Featured here are selected updates showing examples of how the United Nations Environment Programme works to facilitate the rapid sharing of best practices, new ideas, technology and environmental innovations that will drive sustainable development and promote COVID-19 economic recovery plans that take nature and the climate emergency into account.
The latest COVID-19 related stories, reports, factsheets and publications from UNEP can be found here.
The resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly and a Green Recovery
The resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) takes place online and in Nairobi on 28 February – 2 March 2022
Immediately after UNEA-5.2, the Assembly will hold a Special Session of the Assembly on 3 - 4 March 2022, which is devoted to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of UN Environment Programme in 1972 (UNEP@50). The special session will be held under the theme "Strengthening UNEP for the implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
UNEA-5.2 will be supporting a Green Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic throughout all of its themes.
What was slated to be the first-ever Middle East and North Africa Climate Week in Dubai, has been postponed due to the recent surge in COVID-19 Omicron variant cases.
MENACW 2022 is an opportunity for a range of participants, from governments, to the private sector, to indigenous communities and many more to engage in solution-oriented dialogue, find common ground and collaborate on climate action.
The in-person meeting, which was originally scheduled to begin on 28 February 2022, is being rescheduled with new dates to be announced soon.
Initial dip in Greenhouse Gas Emissions due to COVID-19 expected to rebound
While most Greenhouse Gas (GHG) are naturally occurring, human activities have also been leading to a problematic increase in the amount of GHG emitted and their concentration in the atmosphere. This increased concentration, in turn, can lead to adverse effects on climate.
Despite an initial dip in global GHG emissions due to COVID-19, the United Nations Environment Programme’s latest Emissions Gap Report (EGR) expects a strong rebound in years to come.
2021 Earth Champion Laureate tackles wildlife conservation and preventing the spread of COVID-19
Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka was the first-ever wildlife veterinarian for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. There, she began to apply what was a new approach to working for wildlife – one that centred on improving lives and livelihoods in the remote villages that surrounded Bwindi.
Appreciating the interplay between humans and wildlife, and the spread of zoonotic diseases between the two populations, was a critical aspect for Kalema-Zikusoka as she took on a greater role in providing guidance to the Ugandan government’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
Kalema-Zikusoka worked with national park staff to encourage visitors and rangers to wear masks, not just to prevent transmission amongst themselves of COVID-19, but also to protect the gorillas, who can be infected by human-borne pathogens. That work would evolve into protocols designed to limit the spread of zoonotic diseases – contagions that jump between humans and animals – and training for local health workers designed to combat COVID-19. Now 21 countries in Africa – including the 13 states that are home to dwindling populations of great apes – have signed on to the guidelines.
Kalema-Zikusoka is the Science and Innovation Champion of the Earth Laureate 2021.
Joint tripartite and UNEP statement on definition of “One Health”
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), UNEP and the World Health Organization (WHO) welcome the newly formed operational definition of One Health from their advisory panel, the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP), whose members represent a broad range of disciplines in science and policy-related sectors relevant to One Health from around the world.
The four organizations are working together to mainstream One Health so that they are better prepared to prevent, predict, detect, and respond to global health threats and promote sustainable development.
The One Health definition developed by the OHHLEP states:
One Health is an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals and ecosystems. It recognizes the health of humans, domestic and wild animals, plants, and the wider environment (including ecosystems) are closely linked and inter-dependent. The approach mobilizes multiple sectors, disciplines and communities at varying levels of society to work together to foster well-being and tackle threats to health and ecosystems, while addressing the collective need for clean water, energy and air, safe and nutritious food, taking action on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development.
Last updated at 2.25pm EAT
New report reveals COVID-19’s impact on the United Nations’ environmental footprint
In 2020, the UN system generated about 1.5 million tonnes CO2eq greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with per capita emissions of 5 tonnes CO2eq. The sources of the emissions were 32 per cent air travel, 12 per cent other travel (rail, road, sea, etc.) and 55 per cent facilities. Ninety-nine per cent of these emissions were offset. These figures are a 25 per cent reduction from 2019 – reflecting the sudden and dramatic adaptations in operations that the UN made in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that there are many ways to work and collaborate that can reduce our negative environmental impacts,” said Isabella Marras, Coordinator of UNEP’s ‘Sustainable UN’ programme. “As the world continues to cope with the ongoing pandemic, we should look at how to implement these learnings for the long-term. The UN system has a tremendous opportunity to learn from the experiences it gained by working differently and delivering its mandate with less travel and alternative working modalities.”
Report: COVID-19 recovery stimulus packages are becoming a lost opportunity to finance climate adaptation
The sixth edition of the UNEP Adaptation Gap Report: The Gathering Stormlooks at how the world is doing in adapting to the impacts of climate change. The report notes that less than one third of 66 countries studied explicitly funded COVID-19 measures to address climate risks up to June 2021. And it cautions that the heightened cost of servicing debt, combined with decreased government revenues, may hamper future government spending on adaptation.
Launching the report at COP 26 in Glasgow, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP said, “As the world looks to step up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions – efforts that are still not anywhere strong enough – it must also dramatically up its game to adapt to climate change.”
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a drop in global CO2 emissions of 5.4 per cent in 2020. However, CO2 and non-CO2emissions in 2021 are expected to rise again to a level only slightly lower than the record high in 2019.
Only around 20 per cent of total recovery investments up to May 2021 are likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Of this spending, almost 90 per cent is accounted for by six G20 members and one permanent guest.
COVID-19 spending has been far lower in low-income economies (USD 60 per person) than advanced economies (USD 11,800 per person). Gaps in finance are likely to exacerbate gaps in vulnerable nations on climate resilience and mitigation measures.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to three urgent crises – on jobs, care and the environment – that undermine gender equality and threaten the survival of people and planet.
The need for a plan to recover and transform economies has never been clearer. Drawing on the latest available data and the contributions of more than 100 global experts, The Plan provides a vision and calls for action in three key areas:
An economy that supports women’s livelihoods. The vulnerability of women’s jobs has been brutally revealed during the pandemic. Urgent action is needed to strengthen social protection systems and move women out of the informal economy.
Putting care at the centre of a sustainable and just economy. The world has recognized care work as ‘essential’ in this crisis. Now is the moment to back that recognition with policies to properly support and reward that work.
Gender-just transitions for a green future. New green jobs for women, and investments in sustainable energy and agriculture will be critical to set economies on more equitable and sustainable paths.
When: Thursday September 16, 9.00 – 10.30am EDT
Where: The virtual event will be held on Zoom and will be accompanied by translation (English, Spanish, French) and closed captioning. Please register at https://bit.ly/3tokyW4.
Last updated at 1.45pm EAT
Time to get serious about climate change. On a warming planet, no one is safe.
"Thank you to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the authors and everyone involved in this latest climate alarm. Your work is particularly appreciated given the disruption COVID-19 has caused.
You have been telling us for over three decades of the dangers of allowing the planet to warm. The world listened, but it didn’t hear. The world listened, but it didn’t act strongly enough. As a result, climate change is a problem that is here, now. Nobody is safe. And it is getting worse faster.
We can’t undo the mistakes of the past. But this generation of political and business leaders, this generation of conscious citizens, can make things right. This generation can make the systemic changes that will stop the planet warming, help everyone adapt to the new conditions and create a world of peace, prosperity and equity.
Climate change is here, now. But we are also here, now. And if we don’t act, who will?"
"With a young, vibrant and innovative population, Africa has the potential to be a global economic powerhouse. The continent holds 30 per cent of the world’s mineral reserves. 65 per cent of its arable land. It has massive renewable energy sources. Undercapitalized fisheries resources. From oceans and lakes to rainforests and peatlands, this continent of many nations and peoples holds all the cards.
But the African dream is at risk. The COVID-19 linked recession has cost over 30 million jobs, driven poverty up and increased debt pressure. Meanwhile, environmental impacts – from climate extremes to biodiversity loss to pollution – are holding the continent back.
The best way to tackle these issues simultaneously is to prioritize green investments in COVID-19 recovery. Investments that back the sustainable use of resources. That back clean and efficient energy, and nature-based solutions. That support sustainable agricultural practices. That create green and resilient cities. This is why AU’s Green Recovery Action Plan is so welcome."
Among the knock-on effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN has noted a dramatic increase in world hunger. According to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World published in July 2021, one tenth of the global population – as many as 811 million people – were undernourished in 2020, an increase of 118 million from 2019.
Recognizing the urgency of the hunger crisis, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres will convene the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021.In advance of the event, we spoke to UNEP Programme Manager, James Lomax about the challenges and opportunities to transform food systems and end hunger by 2030.
Prevention versus cure: the climate and health agendas
The COVID-19 pandemic cost a lot of lives and caused hardships globally. But the sad reality is however terrible COVID-19 has been, the triple planetary crisis of climate change, of nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste, will amplify public health challenges, almost beyond comprehension.
"As climate becomes warmer and weather patterns shift, diseases will travel further and faster. As the IPCC noted, factoring in climate change would increase the number of people at risk of malaria in 2050 to 1.95 billion. This is 200 million more than if disease control efforts were not opposed by higher temperatures and shifts in rainfall patterns. A rapidly melting permafrost will unleash diseases buried for hundreds of years. And as the recent heatwaves in Canada, have revealed, climate impacts are leaving no country untouched," said Inger Andersen in her speech delivered at ‘Public Health from Climate-Related Threats’, on the margins of the 2021 United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
She added, "The choices we make in pandemic recovery and in our everyday lives, can save millions of lives and billions of dollars each year, preserve the natural world and take us all, together, into a greener and healthier future. So let us all choose wisely."
Add to this the unanticipated impact of COVID-19 – from the volumes of protective equipment the world now uses and discards every day to the interruption of policies asserting the use of single-use plastic products in the first place. It is a perfect – plastic – storm.
As travel becomes easier, we must use the opportunity to do better and preserve and restore pristine destinations for the health of people and planet for years to come. Rethinking our habits – particularly our use of single-use plastic products is not a matter of change at one hotel or even in one industry. Instead, it requires the support of every stakeholder, from governments, policymakers, business owners and consumers.
Op-ed: Time for action beyond Twitter hashtags as poor rains threaten food production
The entire Horn of Africa, including 13 million people, is affected by droughts. These effects are recurring also across the Sahel and the entire continent. Africa faces the second-highest cost of degradation at USD 65 billion each year. Cumulatively, the global economy is losing up to USD 10.6 trillion annually because of land degradation.
Changing course should go beyond righteous outrage. A new UN Special Report on Droughts calls for shifting from reactive approaches to addressing the root drivers of drought. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres says, “land can be our greatest ally”, though currently, it’s “suffering.” Restorative action yields a fortune. Every one dollar invested in restoration creates up to USD 30 in economic benefits.
With collective action, we can become #GenerationRestoration. After all, both the impact and the pleasure of working together with minds and hands is always greater than going alone. Our own actions may also propel politicians to live up to their global commitments to restore one billion hectares. As President Obama once said, political leaders will only take risks if the people push them.
Today we invite you to join us in the fight against misinformation and post a Pause symbol on your social accounts.
We are asking our network and the whole world to Pause to spread awareness and encourage a new action of pausing before sharing online. Below you will find a pause symbol you can download and share on your social media alongside the hashtag: #PledgetoPause
Right now, misinformation is spreading faster than the virus itself, prolonging the pandemic, disrupting public health efforts and ultimately costing lives.
Verified's Pause campaign asks people to stop and think for a moment before sharing online. Research shows that this simple action can reduce the spread of harmful misinformation.
Today we ask you to share the Pause symbol across your social platforms and #PledgetoPause before you share online.
“Episode 6: Are We Building Back Better?” has been led by UNEP colleagues, and (as the title suggests) builds on the key findings from UNEP and Oxford University’s recently published Building Back Betterreport. It features an open debate between UNEP’s own Steven Stone, the report’s lead author Brian O’Callaghan (Oxford University), Jean-Paul Adam (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa) and Katja Funke (IMF).
To date, according to the Tracker, a higher proportion of the region’s recovery budget has been spent on unsustainable sectors (USD 7.4 billion) than on environmentally-sustainable initiatives (USD 1.5 billion). 74 per cent of environmentally-negative spending has been directed to fossil energy infrastructure, and 13 per cent to unsustainable port and airport infrastructure, which is expected to lead to an increase in carbon emissions.
Piedad Martin, Acting Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean said, “In order to transition to more sustainable and inclusive economies, nations in the region must build from this good start of tracking to further align their development priorities with green recovery.”
New international expert panel to address the emergence and spread of zoonotic diseases
International organizations have come together to launch a new One Health High-Level Expert Panel to improve understanding of how diseases with the potential to trigger pandemics, emerge and spread.
The panel will advise four international organizations, including UNEP, on the development of a long-term global plan of action to avert outbreaks of diseases like H5N1 avian influenza; MERS; Ebola; Zika, and, possibly, COVID-19. Three quarters of all emerging infectious diseases originate in animals.
The panel will consider the impact of human activity on the environment and wildlife habitats. Critical areas will include food production and distribution; urbanization and infrastructure development; international travel and trade; activities that lead to biodiversity loss and climate change; and those that put increased pressure on the natural resource base - all of which can lead to the emergence of zoonotic diseases.
The UNEP Regional Office for West Asia launches a campaign to raise awareness to reduce food waste during Ramadan, foster behaviour change, and boost sustainable action. Research shows that significant food waste is generated during social and religious occasions globally, and West Asia is no exception - with household food waste estimated to range from 75 to 163 kg/cap year in the region (UNEP 2021).
With celebrations most likely to take place at home this year, mindful consumption and waste prevention is now of the utmost importance. Over 10 per cent of people worldwide are hungry – a number that is expected to rise sharply due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sustainable Ramadan campaign calls on those marking this holy month to adopt these sustainable living tips:
Shop carefully and sustainably
Swap animal protein for plant-based options when possible
Cook creatively and discover leftover recipes
Plan meals ahead of time and control portions
Reduce single-use packaging (order takeaways without cutlery) and use reusable shopping bags.
Last updated at 1.01pm EAT
Report: The world's forests are at risk
Some 1.6 billion people worldwide depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines & income.
The study assesses the multi-dimensional effects of the pandemic and pathways for SDG progress, focusing on the 68 countries with low or medium human development (as per the 2020 Human Development Index).
This study can support governments and partners to practically plot evidence based, high impact policy choices for the long-term. All findings and raw data, which are searchable per country and region, and which can be used to craft advocacy messages, are open and available to anyone via UNDP’s COVID-19 Data Futures Platform.
Last updated at 2.20pm EAT
#Nitrogen4NetZero is a developing international initiative that highlights the need for sustainable nitrogen management as part of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Net Zero will be impossible to achieve without action on nitrogen. At the same time, reducing nitrogen pollution offers multiple win-wins across sustainable development for air, water, biodiversity, stratospheric ozone depletion, soils, food and the economy.
The CPF statement outlines how the COVID-19 pandemic has placed additional pressure on forest resources and may result in a significant increase in deforestation. Healthy forests are essential to building back better and are also key in decreasing the risk of future zoonotic diseases, according to the statement.
Addressing COVID-19 for the Environment: Defining Green Recovery
On 27 April, 2021 starting 8 AM EDT/2 PM CEST, the UN Environment Management Group (EMG), in close collaboration with UNEP and other partners will hold the first of a 3-part series of virtual Nexus Dialogues on Addressing COVID-19 for the Environment.
The introductory dialogue Defining Green Recovery aims at pushing the needle forward to frame the rest of the series through stronger operationalization, to effectively monitor, evaluate and verify the impact of recovery and stimulus measures on environmental outcomes.
Two other dialogues will follow on Financing Green Recovery (4 May 2021) and Regional Nexus Approaches to Building Back Better (15 June 2021).
Energy transition a key driver of the COVID-19 economic recovery in Panama
Our 🆕 study ⬇️ In Panama, integrating the energy ⚡️ transition as part of the post-#COVID19 stimulus & recovery plans will trigger significant benefits, not only for the environment & human health, but also for the economy.#BuildBackGreenerhttps://t.co/oRll2BbfGA
What: The adverse impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on human and planetary health will come from many sources, including a spike in hazardous waste – such as personal protective equipment, electronics and pharmaceuticals, millions of litres of wastewater and massive use of detergents, disinfectants and antimicrobial solutions, etc. The most immediate challenge facing national and local authorities is how to manage and dispose of the waste produced in hospitals and healthcare facilities handling COVID-19 patients. This training session, aimed at environmental experts, covers the issues to be considered in COVID-19 related health care waste management, and practical approaches to effective health care waste management.
Moderator: Muralee Thummarukudyil
Michael Cowing: Factors influencing COVID-19 related healthcare waste management
Ida Eriksson: COVID-19 environmental risks regarding medical waste: Sudan experience
BR Ravishankar: Medical waste management - strengthening regulatory framework
Last updated at 10.32am EAT
Reducing public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals of mammalian species in traditional food markets
To reduce the public health risks associated with the sale of live wild animals for food in traditional food markets, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have issued guidance on actions that national governments should consider adopting urgently with the aim of making traditional markets safer and recognizing their central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations.
In particular, WHO, OIE and UNEP call on national competent authorities to suspend the trade in live caught wild animals of mammalian species for food or breeding purposes and close sections of food markets selling live caught wild animals of mammalian species as an emergency measure when effective regulations are not in place or risk assessments are not adequate.
This document focuses on the risk of disease emergence in traditional food markets where live animals are sold for food. UNEP supports the sustainable use of wild animals that contributes to the conservation of biodiversity and is in line with national and international regulations regarding threatened and endangered species.
Because about two-thirds of known human infectious diseases are shared with animals, and most emerging diseases are associated with wildlife, One Health has focused on the human-animal health nexus – including zoonoses and anti-microbial resistance, when exposure to antibiotics changes bacteria, making it more difficult to treat.
UN Secretary-General launches the "Only Together” campaign
As the world races to end the pandemic, no country can end it alone. Let’s work together so that all countries are sharing the vaccines fairly around the world. Let’s work together #ForNature towards a green recovery to avoid future pandemics.
Last updated at 9.16pm EAT
Are we on track for a green recovery? Not Yet
One year from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, recovery spending has fallen short of nations’ commitments to build back more sustainably: an analysis led by Oxford’s Economic Recovery Project and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) finds.
Professor of Environmental Economics at Oxford, Cameron Hepburn: “This report is a wake-up call. The data from the Global Recovery Observatory show that we are not building back better, at least not yet. We know a green recovery would be a win for the economy as well as the climate - now we need to get on with it.”
UNEP’s Executive Director, Inger Andersen: “Humanity is facing a pandemic, an economic crisis and an ecological breakdown - we cannot afford to lose on any front. Governments have a unique chance to put their countries on sustainable trajectories that prioritize economic opportunity, poverty reduction and planetary health at once - the Observatory gives them the tools to navigate to more sustainable and inclusive recoveries.”
The report draws evidence collected up to February 2021 on the Global Recovery Observatory, also launched at the event, which tracks and assesses every individual COVID-19 related fiscal spending policy announced by the 50 leading economies for potential impacts on the environment and the socio-economy.
Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) launched the 2020 Annual Report in February. The report highlights ongoing work in supporting inclusive, green economy transitions within 20 partner countries, across all eight funding partners and five UN agency partners, including UNEP.
In 2020, this work was highly adaptive, aligning with national priorities to support action plans for green economic recoveries and address the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.
Sustainable infrastructure can drive development and COVID-19 recovery: UNEP report
Zimbabwe has long struggled with crippling power outages, some of which can last up to 18 hours a day. The cuts have been especially hard on the country’s hospitals and clinics, forcing nurses to deliver babies by candlelight and doctors to postpone emergency surgeries.
But that is starting to change. Since 2017, Zimbabwe has installed solar panels atop more than 400 healthcare facilities, steadying power supplies and replacing expensive and polluting diesel-fired generators.
The “Solar for Health” initiative is a prime example of the type of sustainable infrastructure development that will be vital to combating climate change, improving public services and driving the economic recovery from COVID-19.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres receives his second COVID-19 vaccine dose in New York
UN Secretary-General António Guterres received his second COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies in the Bronx, New York, on Friday, 26 February 2021.
He has repeatedly called for the vaccines to be a global public good, accessible to all people, everywhere.
In December, Mr. Guterres declared that he would happily receive the vaccine in public, and said that, for him, vaccination is a moral obligation: “Each one of us provides a service to the whole community”, he said, “because there is no longer a risk of spreading the disease.”
'Are we building back better?' an online UN-Oxford panel discussion with leaders from key countries and international institutions
“Are we building back better?”happening online on Wednesday, 10 March 2021, is a UN-Oxford panel discussion bringing together global leaders and international institutions, to debate progress, explore openings, and attempt to answer some of the major questions following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conference will also serve as a launch pad for for a major new report and data set from the Global Recovery Observatory, detailing recovery efforts in the top 50 economies of the world – and whether these align with environmental goals. The Observatory will go live on March 10th and will feature a data visualization tool developed by UNDP team.
Pandemic recovery presents historic opportunity to ensure human rights for all: UN Chief
Human rights have been battered in the COVID-19 pandemic but recovery represents a chance to improve on the status quo and finally ensure dignity for all, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the General Assembly on Wednesday, 24 February 2021.
“The United Nations family is working together to ensure that human rights are at the heart of COVID-19 socio-economic response plans.” he said.
“We are developing a plan of action to protect environmental human rights defenders, who have sadly often been victims of violence and abuse.” Mr. Guterres added.
Towards a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world
The “contribution of the environmental dimension of sustainable development to building a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world” was discussed by delegates taking part in “leadership dialogues” sessions during the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in February 2021.
This new report is a scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies.
During the launch, Andersen said, "There is indeed no precedent for what we must do, but if 2020 was a disaster, 2021 can and must be the year humanity began making peace with nature and secured a fair, just and sustainable future for everyone."
UN Environment Assembly sets stage for green recovery
In addition to the tragic loss of life, COVID-19 has rolled back decades of progress on development, exposing social and economic inequalities and the inextricable link between human and planetary health.
Pandemic recovery plans offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to chart a new path. On 22 – 23 February 2021, the fifth session of the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA-5) will virtually unite Member States and stakeholders to take action to build a greener, more sustainable and inclusive post-pandemic world.
Latin American, Caribbean ministers commit to build back better and greener
The Ministers of the Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean in early February signed the BridgetownDeclaration. In it they called for the integration of environmental issues to be placed at the heart of the region’s COVID-19 recovery strategies.
“The impending global response to the COVID-19 pandemic teaches us to work together to combat the common challenges to the planet and humanity,” said the Ministers in the Declaration.
The ministers also recognized that, in order to reduce the risk of future pandemics of zoonotic origin, Latin America and the Caribbean need to improve the state of knowledge on the links between environmental and human health.
“The world remains way off target in staying within the 1.5-degree limit of the Paris Agreement,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres told ambassadors in preparation towards COP26. “This is why we need more ambition, more ambition on mitigation, ambition on adaptation and ambition on finance.”
COP26 had to be postponed from 2020 to November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With nine months to go until Glasgow, and the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, Mr. Guterres underlined the UN’s commitment to ensuring preparatory negotiations will take place virtually.
“We simply cannot allow the pandemic to keep us from working together on the crucial pathway to Glasgow. Although there will be challenges, we must adapt. The stakes are too high to do otherwise,” he said.
COVID-19 taught us that we are not immune to the impacts of overusing natural ecosystems, damaging wildlife, and compromising the biosphere.
We don’t need a pandemic to #movethedate of Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humanity has used as much ecological resources as the planet’s natural ecosystems can regenerate in the whole year.
Intentional actions to address the climate, biodiversity loss and pollution crises are our collective responsibility, from governments to the private sector to individual citizens, supporting the long-term success of humanity.
She explains why she is calling for bold action and warns that climate change poses an existential threat far greater than COVID-19. Unstopped, the climate crisis “will change the very foundation of our existence as we know it.”
World leaders will discuss how to direct stimulus funds towards creating low-carbon, nature-positive and pollution-free societies and economies, in which finance fuels the energy transition and green jobs.
This takes place at a time when many countries are seeing a significant proportion of their citizens expressing “vaccine hesitancy”. “This will go a long way in building trust in our communities that the vaccine is safe for all”, said Penny Abeywardena, New York City's Commissioner for International Affairs.
Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Qu Dongyu stressed that COVID-19 had highlighted the inter-connectedness of the agri-food and health systems at every level, and this was very relevant to managing AMR, which he described both as a "slow-moving pandemic" and a "serious threat".
UN Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen said her agency was pleased to join this partnership, noting that the natural environment was something that could not be ignored when dealing with AMR as the environment was key to solving it.
UNEP launches the 5th edition of the Adaptation Gap Report
2020 was not only the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the year of intensifying climate change: high temperatures, floods, droughts, storms, wildfires and even locust plagues. Even more worryingly, the world is heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century.
The Paris Agreementrequires all its signatories to plan and implement adaptation measures through national adaptation plans, studies, monitoring of climate change effects and investment in a green future.
The report emphasizes the role of nature-based solutions – locally-appropriate actions that address societal challenges, such as climate change, and provide human well-being and biodiversity benefits by protecting, sustainably managing and restoring natural or modified ecosystems.
Last updated at 3.22pm EAT
Build Back Greener exhibition at Beijing International Airport
As we recover from the pandemic, we can rebuild strong economies that work in harmony with nature, not against it. That means more cooperation, more social inclusion, and more innovation to enable the sustainable use of Earth’s resources.
UNEP and Beijing Airport have worked together to demonstrate how we could build back greener from perspectives of buildings, plastics, cooling, oceans, sustainable tourism, textiles, cities, energy, food waste and transport as well as ecosystems.
Last updated at 3.31pm EAT
UN chief highlights need for climate action, pandemic response, in commemorating 75th anniversary of the General Assembly
Although the UN chief described the pandemic as “a human tragedy”, he emphasized that it can be an opportunity to achieve a more sustainable and equitable world, as outlined in theSustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and theParis Agreement on Climate Change.
“The central objective of the United Nations this year is to build a global coalition for carbon neutrality by the middle of the century. We need meaningful cuts now, to reduce global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030, compared with 2010 levels,” said António Guterres during a virtual event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly, which was held in London.
Citizens globally affirm belief in international cooperation
The UN75 initiative was launched by Secretary-General António Guterres, in January last year, to understand the global public’s hopes and fears for the future, as well as their expectations and ideas for international cooperation, and for the UN in particular.
More than 1.5 million people from 195 countries took part in the campaign through surveys and dialogues.
In the immediate priorities post-COVID-19, the world is united in wanting much better access to affordable basic services, healthcare, quality education, water and sanitation, and related is the world seeks much greater solidarity with the hardest hit communities and places.
The note guides states in developing environmentally-conscious legal responses to the effects of COVID-19. It specifically targets parliamentarians, who play a key role in the COVID-19 emergency and recovery processes through their legislative and policy oversight functions.
Inger Andersen in DW: We are close to the point of no return
"As COVID-19 vaccination programs roll out, 2021 starts with hope that an end to the pandemic is in sight. We needed bold leadership, tough decisions and dedicated financing to bring us to this point. We must now apply the same vigor to fighting climate change or risk many more years as bad as the last."
In a recent DW opinion piece by Inger AndersenUNEP Executive Director she argues that green and sustainable recovery measures can deliver emissions cuts while supporting other environmental, social and economic goals.
A new policy brief has been released by the International Association of Public Transport. The brief, acknowledging that zero risk doesn’t exist, presents evidence that shows the risk of spreading COVID-19 in public transport is lower than earlier perceived.
In the brief, UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Inger Anderson says, "UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report is clear that we are hurtling towards a climate catastrophe. A green recovery from the pandemic could cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 25 percent. As we rebuild our cities and seek to re-connect with each other, green and low-carbon public transport remains one of the smartest investments we can make."
“COVID-19 underscores the urgency of our work and forced us to be even more diligent in combating threats to the Earth,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director. “The pandemic is a symptom of humanity’s fractured relationship with the natural world – and we don’t have long to repair that bond.”
The Earth is facing an unprecedented set of threats, including climate change, rampant pollution and mass extinction of wildlife. In 2020, UNEP staff worked hard, often behind the scenes, to address those challenges, said Andersen.
The first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness held on 27 December
As exemplified by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic major infectious diseases and epidemics have devastating impacts on human lives, wreaking havoc on long-term social and economic development. Global health crises threaten to overwhelm already overstretched health systems, disrupt global supply chains and cause disproportionate devastation for people in the poorest and most vulnerable countries.
There is an urgent need for resilient and robust health systems that reach everyone.
The UN General Assembly invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other global, regional and subregional organizations as well as the private sector and civil society to observe the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness annually in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national contexts and priorities, through education and awareness-raising activities, in order to highlight the importance of the prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics.
Tune in once a month as key policy questions that will determine the fate of our economies, our societies, and our planet for decades to come are discussed.
In Episode 1, we speak to Elliott Harris (Chief Economist of the United Nations), Jayati Ghosh (Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates) and Mercedes Pombo (Youth Leader of the Youth for Climate Movement) to answer these and other key questions as we look to unpack the green recovery debate.
Webinar: Waste Management During COVID-19: From Crisis to Opportunity
COVID-19 created an unprecedented challenge to waste management across the globe. As the number of patients needing hospital-based healthcare exploded, it caused challenges in waste management infrastructure too. Managing massive healthcare waste became an issue for both developed and developing countries.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)developed a series of guidance notesto assist Member States to deal with waste management issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. UNEP also worked in partnership with the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency (Swedish MSB) to assist in assessing the situation regarding waste management in some countries.
UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2020: hope in a green pandemic recovery
The 2020 UNEP Emissions Gap Report reportfinds that a brief dip in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will make no significant difference to long-term climate change.
However hope lies in a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which could help put the world close to the pathway to 2°C, and growing commitments to net-zero emissions by 2050 – although more work would be required to reach the 1.5°C goal. The report identifies measures to prioritize this green recovery.
"Part of the change must come through pandemic recovery stimulus packages that align our economies with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and international processes that target healthy biodiversity."
Take action: 10 ways you can help end violence against women, even during a pandemic
This year is like no other. Even before COVID-19 hit, violence against women and girls had reached pandemic proportions. Globally, 243 million women and girls were abused by an intimate partner in the past year. Meanwhile, less than 40 per centof women who experience violence report it or seek help. As countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified.
Professor Oksana Tarasova from WMO said that in order to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, in which governments pledged to try to stop temperatures rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the world needed to switch from coal, oil and gas-fired energy towards solar, wind, hydropower and nuclear power, as well as adopting less-polluting modes of transport, including electric vehicles, biofuels, hydrogen and bicycles.
Vaccines work and should be treated as a global public good
Vaccines are safe and help prevent millions of deaths every year.
"The recent breakthroughs on COVID-19 vaccines offer a ray of hope. But that ray of hope needs to reach everyone," said UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday. "That means ensuring that vaccines are treated as a global public good — accessible and affordable to everyone, everywhere. A people’s vaccine. This is not a “do-good” exercise. It is the only way to stop the pandemic dead in its tracks."
Data Protection and Privacy in the COVID-19 Response
A group of 16 UN entities including UNEP support the adoption of this joint statementon Personal Data Protection and Privacy Principles in the use of data and technology in the COVID-19 response. Data collected, used and processed by UN System Organizations in COVID-19 operations should follow principles including:
scope & time limitation
proper deletion of data
The joint statement is supported by The United Nations, IOM, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNOPS, UPU, UN Volunteers, UN Women, WFP and WHO.
Speaking in New York on the eve of the virtual meeting, the UN chief told reporters that the world must ensure recovery from the crisis will be inclusive, sustainable and in line with global climate goals.
Latest Ebola outbreak in DR Congo is declared over, with lessons for COVID-19
An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is over, the government announced on Wednesday, after a five-month response supported by the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), and other partners.
A key part of the response – with potential lessons for the global fight against COVID-19 – was the vaccination of more than 40,000 people at high risk of falling sick from the frequently fatal haemorrhagic disease, the WHO said in a statement.
The response to both diseases involves finding, isolating, testing, and caring for every case and relentless contact tracing.
PAGE announces first recipients of Green Recovery Funds
PAGE announced the first wave of green recovery funds for five partner countries — Senegal, Argentina, South Africa, Brazil (Mato Grosso) and Thailand. With the financial contributions of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany, PAGE’s mission is to assist countries in achieving inclusive, green and sustainable growth.
An inclusive green economy expands options and choices for national economies, using targeted and appropriate fiscal and social protection policies. It is an economy that is: low-carbon, efficient and clean in production and also inclusive in consumption and outcomes.
Four principles for wildlife management to reduce the risks of future pandemics
The Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management (CPW) has released a joint statementcalling for a pragmatic, factual and science-based approach to the wildlife management challenges that have arisen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They put forward four guiding principles to reduce the risks of the rise and spread of new zoonotic diseases.
Recognize the importance of the use of wildlife for many communities, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs), in policy responses.
Maintain and restore healthy and resilient ecosystems to reduce risks of zoonotic spillovers and future pandemics.
Persecution including killing of wild animals suspected of transmitting diseases will not address the causes of the emergence or spread of zoonotic diseases.
Regulate, manage and monitor harvesting, trade and use of wildlife to ensure it is safe, sustainable and legal.
Ahead of global health assembly, WHO stresses need for science, solutions and solidarity
The COVID-19 pandemic can be defeated through science, solutions and solidarity, says the World Health Organization (WHO).
Thereminder comes ahead of next week’s World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the UN agency’s decision-making body, which normally takes place in May but had to be cut short this year due to the pandemic.
There are more than 47 million COVID-19 cases, and over 1.2 million deaths, according to latest figures. The Assembly will chart the course for response and global health priorities.
Report on how Covid-19 is impacting progress on the Sustainable Development Goals
The report Sustainable Development Goals: Building Back Better looks at the ways Covid-19 has impacted progress across the 17 SDGs, offering comprehensive recommendations not only for how to recover from this crisis, but how we build back better and ensure the targets of the 2030 Agenda are met.
Anderson wrote "The pandemic is yet another warning sign of humanity living at odds with the resources of our planet. Either we follow a new path to a sustainable future, or nature will change it for us."
Last updated at 10.00am EAT
Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics
Future pandemics will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, do more damage to the world economy and kill more people than COVID-19 unless there is a transformative change in the global approach to dealing with infectious diseases, warns a major new report on biodiversity and pandemics by 22 leading experts from around the world.
Verified: access to accurate, reliable information on COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, people all over the world are searching for information on how to keep safe, stay hopeful and help one another. ‘Verified’ is an initiative to combat the growing scourge of COVID-19 misinformation by increasing the volume and reach of trusted, accurate information. Verified is a United Nations initiative to encourage us all to check the advice we share.
'Verified' will provide information around three themes:
solidarity – to promote local and global cooperation;
and solutions – to advocate for support to impacted populations.
It will also promote recovery packages that tackle the climate crisis and address the root causes of poverty, inequality and hunger.
Sign up to receive content you can trust: life-saving information, fact-based advice, and stories from the best of humanity.
Last updated at 9.31pm EAT
Lessons from the pandemic: leveraging technology to advance sustainability
What: The Economist’s Sustainability Week Insight Hour series will convene business leaders, policymakers and industry experts on the topic Lessons from the pandemic: Leveraging technology to advance sustainability. This will examine the impact of COVID-19 on the sustainability agenda. Can companies keep sustainability a top corporate priority? What does a climate-friendly recovery look like? Can we build back better?
This event includes a discussion with Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.
UN-DESA's latest policy brief on COVID-19 and povertynotes that the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing global economic crisis are on course to reverse years of gains in the reduction and alleviation of poverty, thus drastically undermining global efforts to meet the SDG deadline of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.
COVID-19 has reinforced the need for global cooperation and collaboration, both for immediate response and for longer-term recovery. Addressing high (and oftentimes rising) levels of inequality— including those inequalities in opportunities, consumption and wealth—should be the highest priority, as it has the advantage of directly lifting people out of poverty and boosting countries’ growth potential, while creating resilience against shocks, as the current crisis has made painfully clear.
Don’t ignore economic lessons of the Great Recession: new UNEP report
This report, Building a Greener Recovery: Lessons from the Great Recession, draws on lessons from the Great Recession in 2008 and calls on governments to develop concrete strategies to combat environmental decline as they rebuild their economies from COVID-19. For low- and middle-income states, many of which are under extreme fiscal pressure because of the pandemic, the report recommended:
replacing fossil fuel subsidies with investments in clean energy and expanding access to renewable energy in rural areas;
reallocating irrigation subsidies to improve water supply, sanitation and wastewater infrastructure; and
implementing a “tropical carbon tax” to fund reforestation and ecological restoration.
The paper is the first in a series of UNEP reports designed to help countries build back more sustainably from the pandemic.
What:: Explore actionable and cost-effective pathways to CO2 emissions reduction. Understand the role of higher education as a leader in decarbonization. Discuss the engagement in Race To Zero in the lead-up to COP-26
With the UN Secretary General's Covid-19 response emphasizing the need to develop national recovery plans which include climate-positive actions such as decarbonizing all expects of our economies, and with young people around the world calling for a repurposing of the education system, this conversation couldn't be more timely.
Both Countdown and Race To Zero are global campaigns to rally leadership and support from governments, businesses, and other institutions for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.
Last updated at 2.04pm EAT
10 countries kickstarting their pandemic recovery plans by repairing nature
They are using restoration as an engine of employment, especially in rural areas where jobs are badly needed. That strategy not only has the potential to kickstart economic growth, it’s also key in the fight againstclimate change and biodiversity loss. Reviving nature is at the core of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global push to repair lands lost to development that is set to begin in 2021.
Historic UN Summit on Biodiversity sets stage for a global movement toward a green recovery from COVID-19
As countries put plans in place to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, convened by the President of the General Assembly on 30 September 2020, calls attention for the need to work towards a new normal, where all people can live in harmony with nature. Heads of State and Government will attend under the theme of “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of the relationship between people and nature. We are reminded that when we destroy and degrade biodiversity, we undermine the web of life and increase the risk of disease spillover from wildlife to people. Responses to the pandemic provide a unique opportunity for transformative change as a global community. An investment in the health of our planet is an investment in our own future.
Inger Andersen: Pandemic is part of the “triple planetary crisis" but inclusive multilateralism and immediate action can solve this
"The pandemic is part of what we at UNEP call the “triple planetary crisis” of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution," said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, today in her speech delivered to the Ministerial Roundtable on the margins of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.
She noted the importance of inclusive multilateralism, and how if we start now, we can secure healthy biodiversity for generations to come.
She notes how reinvigorated multilateralism is a vital tool for ensuring that national efforts join up to fix these global problems. Also in recovering better from the pandemic can invest in actions to mitigate, and eventually halt, the triple crisis.
The event was organized by the Earth Institute of Columbia University in cooperation with the Global Masters for Development Practice andthe UN Sustainable Development Network.
What: A global e-learning series that addresses the key policy issues central to the green recovery debate.
Where: Available here. The six online courses are free, self-paced, and can act as an invaluable building block as countries plan their economic responses to COVID-19—serving to inform and shape the public policy debate around green economic reform.
Why: Over the next 18 months, it is estimated that economic investment into national recovery packages will reach up to US$ 20 trillion. The make-up of these financial decisions will define the shape of our societies, our economies, and our environment for decades to come. This is where the “Learning for a Green Recovery” campaign has been developed.
Covid features in global megatrends report: Shaping the Trends of Our Time
Chief economists from the UN System came together to examine five human-made megatrends which continue to dominate and frustrate global efforts to put the world on a more sustainable and prosperous path. They published their findings in a report entitled Shaping the Trends of Our Time.
The report details how climate change; demographic shifts, especially population ageing; urbanization; digital technologies; and inequalities are affecting economic, social and environmental outcomes.
In this interview with Pushpam Kumar, Chief Environmental Economist for UNEP, he notes, "The causes of this pandemic relate to biodiversity and climate, so the solution must factor these in to build back better."
Last updated at 2.15pm EAT
Rebuilding better: South Africa's green and inclusive industrial policies
Inger Anderson: Nature and environmental stewardship must be at the heart of COVID-19 recovery
In her address to the 151st meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, the Executive Director of UNEP Inger Anderson gave an update on crucial work UNEP has been doing since the beginning of the year.
She also noted how, "this is a “make or break moment for the planet”. As we seek to reboot the global economy, how we prioritize and direct our resources can either secure human, economic and environmental health for generations to come, or take us down the grey path that has brought with it the suffering we are seeing today."
United in Science 2020 report says Climate Change has not stopped for COVID-19
In the United in Science 2020 report, leading science organizations warn that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at record levels and continue to increase. This is despite a temporary decline caused by the COVID19 lockdown in the first half of the year.
The report is coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with contributions from the Global Carbon Project, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the UN Environment Programme and the UK’s Met Office.
Air pollution has been dubbed the ‘invisible killer’, responsible for a staggering 7 million deaths per year, according to the World Health Organization – more than from Malaria, Tuberculosis and AIDS combined. As we find out more about COVID-19, some scientists also suggest that people who live in polluted areas might be more susceptible to develop severe symptoms.
As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to build back sustainably, to reduce air pollution and protect the environment and our health through comprehensive cross-sectoral strategies. Read the full article by Olga Algayerova, UNECE Executive Secretary here.
When: 15 September 2020 (13.00-14.30 Central European Time). Register here.
What: This explores post-COVID lessons that we can use to design and build cities across the globe with low carbon mobility solutions. Our panel will reflect on how COVID-19 has affected mobility; what sustainability challenges and opportunities are there when building back better; contrasting African/European mobility policies; the leisure trends that have emerged from COVID times and the impacts of staying closer, staying longer and buying better.
UNEP report: Human rights, the environment and Covid-19 key messages
The COVID-19 crisis reveals a clear truth about catastrophic risk in an increasingly globalized world: an effective response requires immediate, ambitious and evidence-based preventive action at the international level.
To avert future global threats, including pandemics, we must protect rights to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment upon which we all depend for our health and well being. A human rights-based approach to the COVID-19 crisis is also needed to address its unequal impacts on the poor, vulnerable and marginalized and its underlying drivers, including environmental degradation.
This UNEP report contains key messages on human rights, the environment and COVID-19. It highlights the essential human rights obligations and responsibilities of States and others, including businesses, in addressing and responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Last updated at 3.15pm EAT
New UNEP report: Waste Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic: from response to recovery
This report reviews current practices for managing waste from healthcare facilities, households and quarantine locations accommodating people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Jointly produced by UNEP, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and the International Environmental Technology Centre, the report considers various approaches, identifies best practices and technologies, and provides recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners to improve waste management, over the long term.
New World Economic Forum report: The Future of Nature and Business
The global pandemic has caused unprecedented job losses and continued economic uncertainty. As governments and businesses look to stimulate growth and create jobs, a new report from the World Economic Forum and AlphaBeta suggests that a nature-first approach can do both. The Future of Nature and Business report finds that over $10 trillion in annual business opportunity and 395 million jobs can be generated by 2030 in a new nature economy. The report identifies how 15 transitions in three socio-economic systems can form the blueprint of action for nature-positive pathways to halting nature loss by 2030.
Tips on sustainable consumption during the coronavirus lockdown
UNEP´s regional office in Latin America and the Caribbean created a brief guideline in Spanish with tips on sustainable consumption during the coronavirus lockdown. This region is currently a COVID-19 hotspot so for those who are able to comply with the stay-at-home orders, there are some simple actions related to sustainable lifestyles. The guideline includes recommendations from UNEP and other UN agencies, and includes topics such as nutrition, waste management, sustainable use of energy and water and wellness. The guide was developed by UNEP´s Communication Unit in the region, with the support of the regional Resource Efficiency Unit.
La oficina regional del PNUMA en América Latina y el Caribe elaboró una breve guía en español con consejos sobre el consumo sostenible durante el confinamiento a causa de la COVID-19. Millones de ciudadanos en América Latina y el Caribe que viven en la pobreza no pueden cumplir con las órdenes de quedarse en casa, pero aquellos que pueden hacerlo, pueden optar por algunas acciones simples relacionadas con estilos de vida sostenibles. La directriz recopila recomendaciones sobre el consumo sostenible del PNUMA y diversas agencias de la ONU, e incluye temas como nutrición, gestión de residuos, uso sostenible de la energía y el agua, y el bienestar. La guía fue desarrollada por la Unidad de Comunicación del PNUMA en la región, con el apoyo de la Unidad de Eficiencia de Recursos.
Last updated at 10.59am EAT
Global Commission on Adaptation statement on the COVID-19 recovery
The Global Commission on Adaptation have released a statement on the COVID-19 recovery. 28 Commissioners and senior representatives supported it, demonstrating the spirit and power of this group. The hope that the statement will inspire decision-makers around the world to incorporate climate resilience into economic recovery plans and move us toward a more resilient future.
About the Global Commission on Adaptation: The Commission launched with the mandate to encourage the development of measures to manage the effects of climate change through technology, planning and investment. The Commission was launched with the support of 17 convening countries including China, Canada and the UK and low-lying countries vulnerable to climate change including Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands. It also included 28 Commissioners representing all sectors of the globe and all sectors of development and industry.
Last updated at 12.57pm EAT
Nursing home receives a solar water heater in Panamá
UNEP and the Ministry of Energy of Panamá donated a thermo-solar heater to a nursing home, located in the Pacora sector of Panamá City. Based on solar energy, the system will generate up to 300 liters of hot water a day for the hygiene of the center, which takes care of 60 older residents.
"In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, using resources wisely is more necessary than ever," said Gustavo Máñez, UNEP regional coordinator of Climate Change in Latin America and Caribbean. “Solar thermal energy creates instant savings and environmental improvements. It can help Panama reduce its spending on fossil fuel imports while reducing emissions that cause climate change," added Máñez.
The heater is part of the Panama Solar Thermal Project which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and aims to develop the Panamanian market for solar water heaters and to help the country meet its climatic targets under the Paris Agreement.
Residencia de personas mayores recibe un calentador solar de agua en Panamá
El PNUMA y el Ministerio de Energía de Panamá donaron un calentador solar de agua a la residencia para personas mayores Los Años Dorados, ubicada en el sector de Pacora en la capital del país. Basado en energía solar, el sistema generará hasta 300 litros de agua caliente por día para la higiene del centro, que atiende a 60 residentes.
"En el contexto de la crisis de la COVID-19, usar los recursos de manera inteligente es más necesario que nunca", dijo Gustavo Máñez, coordinador regional del PNUMA de Cambio Climático en América Latina y el Caribe. “La energía solar térmica genera ahorros instantáneos y mejoras ambientales. Puede ayudar a Panamá a disminuir su gasto en importaciones de combustibles fósiles mientras reduce las emisiones que causan el cambio climático ", agregó Máñez.
El calentador es parte del proyecto Temosolar Panamá, financiado por el Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (GEF, por sus siglas en inglés), y tiene como objetivo desarrollar el mercado panameño de calentadores de agua solares y ayudar al país a cumplir sus objetivos climáticos bajo el Acuerdo de París.
Last updated at 11.05am EAT
#Natureinsight podcast is launched today
Join Rob and Brit as they ‘speed date’ with the future! Each week, they will introduce you to people with unique insights into the values of nature and our relationship with it. Subscribe now to learn how to make better choices about protecting all life on earth.
Speed dating is about having a short time to communicate things that could change your life. That’s exactly what they’re doing on this podcast, by introducing you to people with unique insight into our relationship with nature.
Produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) #natureinsight, features incredible individuals whose experience can help us see solutions for the future.
The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP)—Barcelona Convention Secretariat has articulated a strategic response to the COVID-19. This identifies the main issues and priorities of relevance to the mandate of UNEP/MAP. It lays out the MAP perspective on how to respond to the crisis in the Mediterranean region. It constitutes a blueprint upon which an action plan is being devised by the entire UNEP/MAP system.
Last updated at 11.03am EAT
UNEP and ILRI report on preventing zoonotic diseases launched
6 July 2020 - A scientific assessment from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) finds that unless countries take dramatic steps to curb zoonotic contagions, global outbreaks like COVID-19 will become more common.
More info: The pandemic has affected the activities of scientific institutions and government agencies worldwide, leading to a reduced productivity in some programs and gaps in long-term climate data. It is now essential to focus on leveraging scientific support and knowledge-sharing for a sustainable recovery.
Lockdown and related measures implemented by countries to limit the spread of COVID-19 have led to a decrease in economic activities and a drop in road transport, temporarily cleaning skies and decreasing levels of certain air pollutants. However, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere and oceans for centuries. The scientific community reminds us continuously that the world needs to be committed to continued efforts in climate change regardless of any temporary decrease in emissions due to the pandemic. Researchers have also found that air pollution might have intensified the pandemic.
Last updated at 10.56am EAT
World Environment Situation Room COVID-19 section
The World Environment Situation Room (WESR) has added a COVID-19 section to its monitoring platform.
WESR is global and uses Big Data including geo-referenced, remote-sensing and earth observation information integrated with statistics and data on the environmental dimension of sustainable development.
WESR targets country policy makers, top environmental policy makers, the environmental scientific community, business and interested citizens. The platform is essential as a knowledge instrument to support progress on delivering the environmental dimension of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Last updated at 10.54am EAT
UNEP's post-COVID19 policy briefs on Latin America and the Caribbean
La Oficina Regional del PNUMA en América Latina y el Caribe ha elaborado una serie de resúmenes de política titulada Articulando la política social y ambiental para la recuperación pos-COVID-19, la cual ofrece recomendaciones para reconstruir de manera sostenible en la región tras la pandemia, sin dejar a nadie atrás.
Los resúmenes de política se enfocan las siguientes áreas:
The African Elephant Fund call for COVID 19 Project Proposals:
The African Elephant Fund (AEF) Secretariat just launched the tenth round of call for project proposals with a deadline of 06 July 2020, midnight East Africa Time. The purpose of this call is to allow African elephant range States to seek emergency funding to address elephant conservation challenges related to COVID 19 for the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan.
The project proposal templates for use are available here.
Le Secrétariat du Fonds pour l'éléphant d'Afrique (FEA) vient de lancer le neuvième cycle d'appel à propositions de projets avec une date limite du 6 juillet 2020 à minuit, heure de l'Afrique de l'Est. Le but de cet appel est de permettre aux États de l'aire de répartition de l'éléphant d'Afrique d’accéder à un financement d'urgence pour relever les défis de la conservation des éléphants liés au COVID 19 et pour la mise en œuvre du plan d'action pour l'éléphant d'Afrique.
Les canevas de projets à utiliser sont disponibles ici.
The Data Observatory tracks socio-economic and health impacts from COVID-19
As part of an ongoing effort to support Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Partner Countries, The Data Observatory was developed to track socio-economic and health impacts from COVID-19, track policy responses and assess potential focus areas for green recovery in PAGE Countries. This collection of data aims ultimately to inform our partners and beyond as well as support decision-making that can lead to long-term, sustainable recovery in a post-COVID-19 world.
“The policy and investments decisions taken today will mitigate or amplify future risks to humanity and our economies. An inclusive and green economic recovery requires collective, coherent and decisive action through broader networks of partnerships such as the Partners for Inclusive Green Economy.” - Asad Naqvi, Head, UN PAGE Secretariat.
Last updated at 10.51am EAT
Montréal Mayor calls on local government leaders to take action on nature
Valérie Plante, the Mayor of the City of Montréal and the ICLEI Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity, released a letter for cities to reflect on their relationship with nature ahead of the International Day of Biodiversity and World Environment Day (WED). Montréal is the North American WED host city.
The letter is a call to action for mayors and leaders of local and sub-national governments to make commitments to protect nature, especially in post-COVID-19 recovery plans. About 2,000 Mayors and local community leaders received it.
“As mayors and leaders of local and subnational governments, we have a unique opportunity and an important responsibility to protect our biodiversity and ecosystems in ways that will restore humanity’s relationship with nature, especially as we develop our post-COVID-19 recovery plans. Together, let’s take strong action to create healthy, vibrant cities, where people and nature can thrive.” ~ Mayor Valérie Plante of the City of Montréal & ICLEI’s Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity
The letter is available in English, French and Spanish. More info
Last updated at 10.34am EAT
New Green Fins guidelines on how to deal with chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way
The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme's Green Fins initiative – has launched new guidelines to help dive and snorkel operators who are continuing to keep an environmental strategy high on their agenda despite the many changes taking place for travel businesses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Reef-World has launched the Green Fins Guidelines for Environmental Best Practice for Chemical Cleaning Agents to help dive and snorkel operators deal with chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way. The Green Fins guidance – which should be used in addition to, not instead of, health and safety recommendations from DAN and the WHO on preventing viral spread – explains how on how to deal with any hazardous waste that may pose a significant threat to the marine environment.
The guidelines are available free of charge for Green Fins members and non-members alike. They can be downloaded here.
Three more bicycle highways being built in in Beijing
Daily commuting in bicyle lanes in Beijing used to be a fairly risky undertaking with shared-bikes, scooters and pedestrians whizzing by during rush hours. To encourage green travel and to make it safer, Beijing municipal government built the first “bicycle highway” in the city in 2019. This 6.5km “bike only” highway runs to the north of city, with three lanes, including a reversible lane, on the 6-meter-wide road.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the municipal government in Beijing announced another three bicycle highways will be completed in 2020. These will be to the east, west and south of the city, adding over 25km of segregated bicycle-only routes. Related traffic regulations will be made to make sure the new bicycle highways adapt safely into the city’s traffic.
To further encourage de-carbonized transport, Beijing announced that until the end of May, 2020, people can ride shared-bikes for free for the first half hour during the rush hours.
You can read more about bicycle highways in Beijing here:
Last updated at 10.29am EAT
To celebrate International Biological Diversity Day you are invited to the Solving Crisis webinar
To celebrate International Biological Diversity Day you are invited to a webinar titled: Solving Crisis: Ecosystem-based Solutions to Biodiversity Loss and Links to COVID 19 Pandemic. This seeks to highlight how to build back better through natural solutions.
Apart from effects on human health, COVID-19 has hit at a time where nature-based solutions were on the rise. 2020 was meant to be a year to ramp up our decade of action on ecosystem and biodiversity efforts. While we wait to flatten the curve, we still have to steer through biodiversity and the environmental consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity
David Nabarro, WHO Special Envoy on COVID19
Sagar Aryal, CTO Plant-for-the-Planet App
When: 22 May 2020 at 11:30 AM in Eastern Time (USA and Canada) and 15:30 (in UTC) via Zoom - Register here
UNEP FI: Property sector perspectives on ESG, COVID 19, and managing crises
The socioeconomic impacts from COVID-19 restrictions have affected all segments of the real estate sector in some form.
For property investors and lenders, the economic picture is also troubling.
The recent UNEP FI Property Working Group (PWG) forums affirm that the response to COVID-19 and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration are inseparable, and offered views on trends that will shape sustainable practices as institutions move forward into an altered risk and value-creation landscape. For more details, please download the bulletin,
Last updated at 1.47am EAT
1,000 UNEP handwashing stations in Haiti
UNEP has produced and is installing 1,000 handwashing stations in Haiti. This will help communities access and maintain good hand hygiene, key to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The portable handwashing items are made from repurposed cooking oil buckets fitted with plastic taps and plumbing tubes. They will be distributed to communities in Port Salut, Saint Jean du Sud and La Cahouane. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, ranking 163 out of 189 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index.
This UNEP initiative is supported by the Directorate of Civil Protection at the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the NGO Pêche Artisanale et Développement Intégré.
Last updated at 10.26am EAT
The Basel Convention: COVID19 Factsheet on environmentally sound management of medical waste
Download the Basel Convention’s guidance document on how to manage medical waste in the most sustainable mannerhere.
Last updated at 10.59am EAT
Earth School is in session!
In April 2020 over 1.5 billion children were unable to go to school. Over fifty environmental and education experts, with the guidance and support of TED-Ed and UNEP, collaborated to launch #EarthSchool on 22 April.
EarthSchool shows off the wonder and mystery of our planet to children through a 30 day immersive environmental adventure.
What can we learn from termites about air conditioning? How can we partner with wolves to prevent soil erosion? This interactive adventure will leave you marveling at our planet and ready to take on the future.
Solar water heater for Panama City's Covid hospital
UNEP representatives and Panamanian authorities on April 18, 2020, attended the donation ceremony of a thermo-solar heater to a new COVID-19 hospital in Panama City. Photo: Presidency of Panama.
UNEP and the Energy Secretariat of Panama donated a thermo-solar heater to a hospital being built in Panama to treat COVID-19 patients.
Based on solar energy, the system will be able to generate up to 1,200 liters of hot water a day for the hygiene of the health center. The hospital is being built in the Albrook area of Panama City and will have a capacity for 100 patients, and 24 health sector professionals. The facilities include five showers and sinks for the hygiene of health personnel and for the disinfection of ambulances and the morgue.
Being a 100% renewable technology, the heater will help avoid new carbon emissions and maintain air quality in this sector of the city. The heater is part of the Panama Solar Thermal Project by UNEP and the Secretariat of Energy of Panama. The project, funded by the GEF, aims to develop the Panamanian market for solar water heaters and to benefit, among others, the public health sector.
The 100% renewable solar heater system generates up to 1,200 liters of hot water per day. Photo: UNEP.
Last updated at 11.06am EAT
The Last Defense a short video about a medical waste worker in Beijing
The Last Defense a short video about a medical waste worker in Beijing. This short video by Youthtalks Studio in China, shows Wang Ning, a medical waste worker, as he and his team work on the front lines disposing of COVID-19 medical waste. This video shows the challenges he and his colleagues face in carrying out their crucial and risky job. The original video can be seen online here.
In response to COVID-19, hospitals, healthcare facilities and individuals are producing more waste than usual, including masks, gloves, gowns and other protective equipment that could be infected with the virus. There is also a large increase in the amount of single use plastics being produced.
Wherever possible, countries should control COVID-19 waste through maximizing the use of available waste management solutions and, at the same time, look to avoid any potential long-term impacts on the environment. UNEP is working in collaboration with Governments, WHO, UNDP, the GEF and NGOs to mitigate the adverse impacts on global environment from the increase of waste produced in response to the crisis, through controlling releases of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, land and water.
BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response
Geneva, 20 March 2020 - Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions press release on the need to prioritise waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak. With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to spread and its impacts upon human health and the economy intensifying day-by-day, governments are urged to treat waste management, including of medical, household and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and essential public service in order to minimise possible secondary impacts upon health and the environment.