UN leaders commit to further action on climate change

Fri, 10/05/19

The heads of the UN entities have agreed on ambitious and concrete steps to address climate change in advance of the September Climate Action Summit.

In a statement released following the spring session of the Chief Executives Board of the UN System on 9 May 2019, heads of UN agencies said they are committed to strengthening their organization’s responsiveness to Member States’ needs to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change, including on the stability of regions, states and communities, build resilience, address loss and damage caused by climate-induced disasters, and enhance responsiveness of social protection systems to climate-related events. 

They also committed themselves to raising the UN’s own ambition to take concrete steps to combat climate change and to integrate more systematically sustainable development considerations concerning how the organizations work, both in terms of operations and programmes. Specifically, they committed to:

1. Build on current efforts and develop a United Nations system-wide environmental and social sustainability strategy 2020-2030, to ensure the United Nations system practices the principles that it promotes and systematically embodies the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing the full picture of environmental and social sustainability in its policies, strategies, programmes, projects, facilities and operations.

2. Reduce their environmental impacts via targeted actions on greenhouse gas emissions, waste management, air and water pollution and biodiversity degradation. In the area of greenhouse gas emissions, in particular, the UN system intends to align with the recommendations of the IPCC report, and will take concrete steps in energy demand reductions in all facilities and operations, transition to renewables, and improvements in travel and transport management and climate neutrality.

3. Adopt environmental management approaches based on the principles of continuous improvements and on the integration of sustainable development considerations on all our internal management functions to ensure that opportunities for improvements are captured wherever possible including via the application of environmental and social safeguards in projects and programmes.  Building on the Greening the Blue initiative, the UN system will upscale and improve the its sustainability reporting framework to communicate transparently about progress, efforts and challenges on the journey.

4. At the Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in September, the CEB will present system-wide efforts towards reaching climate neutrality in internal operations by 2020 and enhancing environmental and social sustainability in all UN activities.

Welcoming the announcement, the Sustainable United Nations Facility Coordinator, Isabella Marras, said:

“Over the past 10 years the Environment Management Group and the Greening the Blue campaign has provided a shared platform for environmental action by all UN agencies. This announcement from the CEB marks a significant step-change in the UN’s response to climate change and other critical environmental challenges.

She continued “The introduction of a UN-wide sustainability strategy, including the ambition to align greenhouse gas reductions objectives with the IPCC recommendations, will ensure the UN continues to play its part in the urgent transition to a to low-carbon world. The importance of this task cannot be overstated.”

The full statement can be downloaded here.

Categories: Leadership