United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Q1. How have the COVID-19 pandemic and the current food, energy and financing crises changed the priorities of your organization?
In February/March 2022, guided by its Member States UNEP spearheaded the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) as an opportunity for Member States and Stakeholders to share best practices for sustainability and create momentum for governments to build back better through green and sustainable recovery plans, following the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the resolutions adopted at the Assembly, titled “The environmental dimension of a sustainable, resilient and inclusive post-COVID-19 recovery” (UNEP/EA.5/Res.10) specifically called upon Member States to share knowledge and build capacity, especially in developing countries, in the areas of research and development; technological innovation to help improve information and knowledge sharing; and technical support for a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery. The resolution also requested UNEP and invited other United Nations entities and partners, to support and engage countries in research and development, innovative technology, capacity-building and knowledge-sharing for a sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery, including through the reinvigorated resident coordinator system and the reconfigured United Nations country teams, as well to share best practices and provide peer-to-peer learning and technical assistance to support efforts for resource mobilization, and for strengthening and scaling up country-level efforts on sustainable, resilient and inclusive recovery measures.
In March 2022, the United Nations Secretary-General announced the establishment of a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance facilitated by the UN Secretariat to coordinate the global response to the worldwide impacts of the war in Ukraine on global food, energy and finance systems. UNEP is a member of the Response Group, co-leading the workstream on food, and contributed to the development of the first policy brief, issued in April 2022, which included an assessment of the global impact of the war in Ukraine, supported by a set of key recommendations to support the countries affected by the crisis. At the request of the Government of Ukraine, furthermore, UNEP in collaboration with GRID-Arendal has also undertaken a preliminary and rapid review of existing information on the current conflict in Ukraine to inform and prepare for conflict-related environmental impact assessments. The report presents a snapshot – but by no means a comprehensive picture – of the damage inflicted on Ukraine’s environment and the potential environmental and public health impacts, informing priorities for field-level verification work, summarizing issues and impacts across six broad categories: chemical industries and chemicals associated with armed conflict; fuel and associated infrastructure; waste and waste infrastructure; urban and critical infrastructure; and damage to agriculture and to nature. It also outlines governance and gender considerations and the assessment of cumulative impacts and system dynamics.
As mandated by United Nations General Assembly Resolutions 75/280 and 75/326, UNEP served as the focal point for the Stockholm+50 international meeting on 2-3 June 2022. The meeting, which marked 50 years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, was co-hosted by Sweden and Kenya. Stockholm+50 brought together 5,000 participants from over 140 countries, as well as more than 2,000 civil society representatives along with 135,000 online views. The summit resulted in the Stockholm+50 Recommendations and Actions for Renewal and Trust as well as other outputs reaffirming the need to accelerate system-wide transformations to address a healthy planet for all, including with respect to finance, food and energy systems. Innovative initiatives and ideas were framed around the three organizing principles of engagement: intergenerational responsibility; interconnectivity; and implementation opportunity. One of the Leadership Dialogues held during the meeting, furthermore, focused specifically around “Achieving a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”, resulting in a number of key messages for action.
On the energy front, in the wake of a global energy crisis, UNEP has shifted its attention to helping developing countries to improve energy efficiency and increase their use of renewable energy, as part of their efforts to achieve low-carbon and climate-resilient development pathways. Through multi-stakeholder partnerships, including the Sustainable Energy 4 All (SE4All) initiative, UNEP worked on the energy efficiency goal of doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. Through this, UNEP co-led four of SEforAll’s Energy Efficiency Accelerators through its projects on efficient lighting, appliances and equipment, transport, and district energy. Additionally, UNEP supported the rapid uptake of renewables through several projects including the African Rift Geothermal Development Facility project. This project supported the development of the large untapped geothermal resource potential by providing technical assistance for the exploration of geothermal prospects in East Africa.
Q2. How has your organization supported Member States to accelerate their recovery from COVID-19 and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda? How has your organization cooperated with other UN system organizations in these efforts to achieve coherence and synergies?
With a clear understanding that to achieve a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, no one sector can solve the many problems we face alone, UNEP joined the Quadripartite Alliance on One Health, along with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Alliance aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems by recognizing that 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, acting on climate change, and contributing to sustainable development. In October 2022, the Alliance launched a new One Health Joint Plan of Action that aims to create a framework to integrate systems and capacity so that we can collectively better prevent, predict, detect, and respond to health threats. Ultimately, this initiative seeks to improve the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment, while contributing to sustainable development.
Within the context of its Finance and economic transformations work, in 2022 UNEP’s support to Member States to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 and the Build Back Better COVID-19 response plan focused on public spending and the greening fiscal stimulus and finance packages to accelerate sustainable consumption and production, and work towards achieving the SDG targets. Examples include a study on fiscal policy reforms in the Kyrgyz Republic, assessing incentives for reducing food loss and waste in Indonesia, a Green Economy Policy Review in Mongolia, and webinars on the role of green bonds. With the Office of the UN Chief Economist and economists across UN agencies, UNEP also engaged in efforts to achieve green economy transformation, that includes circular economy approaches, with UN Country Teams. For example, UNEP’s Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) has been supporting Indonesia during its G20 Presidency on green and blue economy transformation analysis to support developing countries with efforts to work towards recovery from COVID-19 and build resilience.
Through the Environment Management Group (EMG), UNEP took part in system-wide efforts to tackle the relationship between COVID-19 and the environment, joining a reflective platform in the form of a broad consultative process on the interlinkages and interdependencies between the COVID-19 pandemic and its environmental impact to foster a coordinated UN response. The process in particular was tasked with helping the UN system define a coherent approach and identify opportunities for collaboration on a green recovery seizing the opportunities created by the pandemic and based on the lessons learned from it regarding the interactions of human with nature. Amongst its outcomes, the Consultative process fostered a better understanding of COVID-19’s impact thus far on the environmental dimensions, raising awareness of the links between nature, health and sustainable living – including zoonotic threats and pandemic prevention. It also identified systemic interlinkages and interdependencies so future policy development, decision-making and leadership is informed, and entry-points for collaboration and partnerships within the UN-system, and between UN agencies and relevant stakeholders, in terms of expanding knowledge-sharing efforts, technical/innovative capacities, and aligning complementary workstreams and resources.
Please highlight up to three high-impact initiatives, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs and involves interagency collaboration. Concrete initiatives might be selected to be spotlighted during relevant intergovernmental meetings.
|Initiative||PAGE Economic Policy Advisory Group|
|Partners||ILO, UNDP, UNEP, UNITAR, UNIDO, UN RCOs, UN ESCAP, UN|
|Relevant SDGs||1, 8, 13, 17|
|Member States benefiting from the initiative||Argentina, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Thailand|
|Description||PAGE, in close coordination with United Nations Economist Network (UNEN) established the PAGE Economic Policy Advisory Group (PEPAG) to provide deeper support on economics to partner countries — aiming to deliver transformative results for the whole economy and the economic recovery from impacts of COVID-19, paying special attention to shifting transformational levers, while keeping an eye on fairness and social justice. The PAGE Economic Policy Advisory Group brings together UN’s internal economic expertise (economists from UNRCOs, PAGE agencies, UN Regional Economic Commissions, and the Office of the UN Chief Economist) and is complemented by external capacities such as national and global think tanks to advise and inform the PAGE delivery mechanism for creating transformational impacts on national economies. The mechanism will create a template for joint planning and delivery by country resident and non-resident UN agencies – a key but less implemented component of the UN Reforms – and will lead to long term “greening” of the whole of the UN System’s support to partner countries on socioeconomic development.|
|Initiative||Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF)|
|Partners||WMO, MDBs (the World Bank and the regional development banks), UNDP, UNEP, WFP|
|Member States benefiting from the initiative||Global|
|Description||SOFF is a global initiative to address a persistent problem in a global and systematic manner – missing surface-based weather and climate observations from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS). The initiative has an exclusive focus on the initial part of the meteorological value chain that creates the foundation for effective policy and investment decisions at local levels. SOFF provides finance and technical assistance to countries to improve their hydromet network, data collection, processing and sharing.|
|Initiative||World Environment Situation Room|
|Member States benefiting from the initiative||Global|
|Description||The World Environment Situation Room (WESR) is a federated data system of the best openly accessible environmental data, information, and knowledge with adequate analytical capacity, to support decision making, policy setting, and action at the global, regional, national, and local levels for the environment and sustainable development. Essential Climate Variables are key indicators that describe Earth's changing climate. Essential climate variables (ECVs) critically contribute to the characterization of Earth' s climate, providing a picture of climate change at a global scale. Collectively, they provide the empirical evidence to support climate science and better predict future change. They can be used to guide mitigation and adaptation measures, to assess climate risks, to attribute climatic events to underlying causes, and to support climate services.|
Q3. Has your organization published or is it planning to publish any analytical work or guidance note or toolkits to guide and support recovery efforts from COVID-19 while advancing full implementation of SDGs at national, regional and global levels?
In 2021 the UN Environment Management Group (EMG), chaired by UNEP established a consultative process co-chaired by UNEP and ILO to help the UN system develop a “green recovery narrative” and define a coherent approach and identify opportunities for collaboration on a green recovery. The Report “Inclusive Green Recovery - An Essential Post-COVID-19 Paradigm Shift to Recover Better” published in September 2021. Green recovery is defined as a systemic process of re-orienting the economic system after the COVID-19 crisis to: (a) align the development model with the Future We Want and improve human wellbeing in a tangible and evaluable way; and (b) increase the harmony of the relationship between human development and nature. Achieving a green recovery must be facilitated by the active involvement and alignment of the activities of the public sector, financial sector, and private enterprises to promote investment in five priority areas (recommended by the experts involved in the consultative process): 1) clean energy; 2) natural capital 3) buildings and energy efficiency; 4) transportation, and 5) R&D, education and connectivity. Nevertheless, according to the Global Recovery Observatory, as of September 2021, green spending only constitutes 21.5% of the recovery spending globally. Green recovery requires a paradigm shift and introducing a new approach to enhancing both human well-being and its relationship with nature, in such a way that makes the economic system and governance institutions more transparent, accountable and resilient, distributes the fruits of development in a more inclusive fashion (addressing the inequalities between and within nations), and disincentivizes activities that cause damage to the environment (e.g., climate change and biodiversity loss), and threaten the health of citizens. This new paradigm facilitates economic growth that is environmentally sustainable, as it does not consider economic growth as the sole or the most important objective of human activities and policy making.
In March 2022, UNEP published the report “COVID19 and Impacts on Environmental Human Rights Defenders and Environmental Protection in Southeast Asia”. This report examines the positive and negative impacts of the decrees, laws and other government policies on environmental rights that were either enacted in response to COVID-19 or passed during the pandemic. This rapid assessment covers the implications of these new rules and laws for Southeast Asian countries’ environmental protection measures and for EHRDs. The eleven Southeast Asian countries included in this assessment are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Viet Nam.
Please select up to three high-impact resources to highlight, especially those that address interlinkages among the SDGs. Selected resources will be highlighted to inform relevant intergovernmental meetings.
|Resource||Emissions Gap Report 2022|
|Target audience||Policymakers, practitioners, and civil society|
|Description||The Closing Window – Climate crisis calls for rapid transformation of societies finds that the world is still falling short of the Paris climate goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place. Only an urgent system-wide transformation can avoid an accelerating climate disaster. The report looks at how to deliver this transformation, through action in the electricity supply, industry, transport and buildings sectors, and the food and financial systems. Despite a call for strengthened Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for 2030, progress since COP26 in Glasgow has been inadequate. NDCs submitted since COP26 take only 0.5 gigatons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions (GtCO2e), less than one per cent, off projected global emissions in 2030. Policies currently in place, without further strengthening, suggest a 2.8°C hike. Additionally, implementation of all NDCs plus net-zero commitments made by an increasing number of countries point to a 1.8°C increase.|
|Resource||Nature-based Solutions: Opportunities and Challenges for Scaling Up|
|Target audience||Policymakers, practitioners, and civil society|
|Description||Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are important for the global sustainable development agenda because they offer the potential to address, in an effective way, diverse challenges such as climate change, food and water insecurity, disaster impacts, and threats to human health and wellbeing, while reducing environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. Some of the challenges addressed by NbS, including biodiversity loss and climate action, cannot be fully tackled without this contribution. This does not mean that other actions, such as rapid decarbonization of our economies, are not also essential. This report outlines recent developments on NbS, with a focus on global, regional and national commitments, and key issues and concerns. Builds on the new multilaterally agreed definition of NbS – agreed by the UN Environment Assembly in March 2022 – to set out key elements in the concept, provides examples of NbS, and discusses related approaches. Provides recommendations for actions by governments, civil society and the private sector to substantially scale up the use of NbS. The report aims to inform NbS-related initiatives and discussions on NbS at global, regional, and national levels, with a focus on how NbS can be scaled up to more effectively address social, economic, and environmental challenges.|
|Resource||Environment and the SDGs|
|Target audience||Policy makers, general public|
|Description||The "Measuring Progress: Environment and the SDGs" publication informs on the 92 environment-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators, analyzes the progress made in achieving the SDGs targets and identifies data gaps. The statistical approach uses simple correlation analyses between indicator pairs related to the state of the environment and drivers of change, and the state of the environment and the state of society, to improve the understanding of the interlinkages between SDGs indicators. It also emphasizes the importance of data disaggregation and fully populated SDGs to understand environmental and socio-economic interactions, and opportunities using innovative data techniques to close data gaps.|
Q4. How has your organization engaged with stakeholder groups to support SDG implementation and COVID-19 recovery at national, regional and global levels? Please provide main highlights, including any lessons learned. For example, what has worked particularly well as a model for effective stakeholder engagement?
UNEP has collaborated with various stakeholder groups to support SDG implementation and COVID-19 recovery at national, regional and global levels. Within the scope of the initiative Global Opportunities for Sustainable Development Goals (GO4SDGs), in particular, UNEP has built partnerships to connect global initiatives with regional needs and solutions. GO4SDGs focuses on implementing action by supporting governments (to strengthen policy coherence), small and medium-sized enterprises (access for financing innovation and circularity), and youth (to empower them to embrace sustainable lifestyles). The initiative has contributed to the sharing of best practices, science-based knowledge, tools and capacity development in the high-impact sectors of food, textiles, plastics and tourism. In the lead-up to Stockholm+50, in particular, through this initiative UNEP has organized a series of regional multi-stakeholder consultations in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and West Asia. The consultations were organized and co-designed in close cooperation with Major Groups and all relevant stakeholders to: give a voice to and facilitate engagement of as many stakeholders as possible; ensure a bottom-up approach in mapping of key actions needed to safeguard our planet in the 21st century in the context of each country’s and region’s needs, including policies and actions required in those economic sectors most critical for sustainable development; review and assess how the state of our environment can be enhanced to help countries and regions attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda, with a particular focus on innovative and enhanced means of implementation as well as building and enhancing human capacities.
Furthermore, during the Stockholm+50 meeting, the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) supported by UNEP – comprised of 1,000 stakeholders from over 100 countries committed to leveraging digital technologies to meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and address the triple planetary crisis – launched an Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age, calling for three systemic shifts to integrate environmental sustainability into digital transformation resulting in a twin transition.
If your organization has established multi-stakeholder partnership(s) in this regard, please describe them (name, partners involved, relevant SDGs, Member States benefiting from the partnership) and provide links to relevant websites for more information.
|Partnership||Regional Sustainable Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES)|
|Partners||UNEP, UNDP, the International Science Council, the German Environment Agency, the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Future Earth and Sustainability in the Digital Age|
|Member States benefiting from the initiative||All|
|Description||The Coalition will lead a global multi-stakeholder process and convene a series of events to firmly anchor environmental sustainability needs within the Digital Cooperation Roadmap and catalyse a digital planet for sustainability part of the broader follow-up to the Secretary-General’s Roadmap on Digital Cooperation.|
|Partnership||Quadripartite Alliance on One Health|
|Partners||Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization (WHO)|
|Member States benefiting from the initiative||Global|
|Description||In October 2022, the Alliance launched new One Health Joint Plan of Action aiming to create a framework to integrate systems and capacity so that we can collectively better prevent, predict, detect, and respond to health threats. Ultimately, this initiative seeks to improve the health of humans, animals, plants, and the environment, while contributing to sustainable development. The One Health Joint Plan of Action, developed through a participatory process, provides a set of activities that aim to strengthen collaboration, communication, capacity building, and coordination equally across all sectors responsible for addressing health concerns at the human-animal-plant-environment interface.|
Q5. In the 2019 SDG Summit declaration (GA Resolution 74/4), Member States outlined ten priority areas for accelerated action in SDG implementation. Please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted in these ten priority areas:
5.1 leaving no one behind
The United Nations Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) puts sustainability at the heart of economic policymaking. The partnership brings together five United Nations agencies; UNEP, UNDP, ILO, UNIDO, and UNITAR, whose expertise and support assist and lead partner countries towards their transition to an Inclusive Green Economy (IGE) by providing policy advice, assessments, capacity building and analytical tools. PAGE has 22 partner countries which it has supported in creating national policies. PAGE contributed to the discussion of the G20 Development Working Group (DWG) on Measuring the Progress of Low Carbon and Green Economy. The DWG analyses are planned to lead to a G20 Roadmap for Stronger Recovery and Resilience in Developing Countries, LDCs, and SIDS.
5.2 mobilizing adequate and well-directed financing
UNEP Finance Initiative continued its work to create a financial sector that serves people and the planet, while delivering positive impacts. In 2022, through the Net Zero Asset Owners Alliance, the absolute value invested in climate solutions, committed under the Financing Transition Target increased with the membership growth, to a total of USD 253 billion. The UNEP Finance Initiative Principles for Responsible Banking are a unique framework for ensuring that signatory banks’ strategies and practices align with the vision society has set out for its future in the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement. Signatory banks commit to embedding these Principles across all business areas, at the strategic, portfolio and transactional levels. Over 250 banks, from all regions and representing over 40% of banking assets worldwide, have joined this movement for change and embarked on their 4-year journeys of impact analysis, target setting and reporting. In 2021, founding banks published their initial 1.5-year progress reports across their activities. A report, published by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) with an independent view from the Civil Society Advisory Body, summarizes the progress made by banks who have signed the Principles for Responsible Banking. The report finds early indications of impact on the real economy, with US$2.3 trillion of sustainable finance being mobilized in 18 months. Key findings from the report show early signs of progress including that 94% of banks identify sustainability as a strategic priority for their organisation, 93% are analysing the environmental and social impacts of their activities, and 30% are setting targets, with a strong collective focus on climate and financial inclusion.
5.3 enhancing national implementation
The United Nations Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) continues to deliver on country-level economic transformation outcomes:
• In Morocco, it started the national dialogue on green economy transition interventions around high impact sectors focusing on agriculture and industry.
• In Kazakhstan, the Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Kazakhstan: Assessments and Modelling of Reform report provides the analysis to the government to support decision-making on redirecting fossil fuel subsidies towards the pursuit of SDGs such as stimulating national low-carbon economic development and poverty-reduction measures.
• In India, PAGE led the multistakeholder consultations to develop a framework for the establishment of a Centre of Excellence on Circular Economy, aiming at aligning India’s economic policies and investments more closely with SDG12 on Responsible Consumption and Production, and contribute to the country’s 2070 net zero target.
• In Argentina, through ILO Argentina and with social partners, it developed a Labour Adaptation Plan for green recovery in the Building and Housing sector as part of the National Roadmap towards the Promotion of Green Jobs under the PAGE program. The plan was validated in July in a workshop with government officials and representatives of the employer and worker sectors.
• In South Africa, young entrepreneurs received the Driving Force for Change (DFC) Awards for their green and sustainable work in August.
• In Mauritius , the first country transition ceremony of its kind was held. It marked the graduation of the country to alumni status, after 5 years of PAGE support. The PAGE Mauritius Sustainability Plan was presented, highlighting achievements and the future Inclusive Green Economy opportunities for more impactful and sustained transformation.
• PAGE Thailand officially launched on November 10 the implementation phase of the PAGE Work plan relating to green economic transformation in Thailand.
5.4 strengthening institutions for more integrated solutions
The United Nations Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) contributed to the discussion of the G20 Development Working Group (DWG) on Measuring the Progress of Low Carbon and Green Economy. The DWG analyses are planned to lead to a G20 Roadmap for Stronger Recovery and Resilience in Developing Countries, LDCs, and SIDS.
5.5 bolstering local action
The Coalition on Sustainable and Inclusive Urban Food was established at the Cities and Regions summit to advance natural and urban food solutions, and a new report on urban agriculture's potential to feed expanding urban populations and improve the environment was released. The Summit also saw the introduction of a new Coalition launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UNEP, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), C40, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) and other partners which will leverage knowledge, resources and multi-level partnerships in support to urban food systems that are sustainable and take nature into account.
5.6 reducing disaster risk and building resilience
UNEP concluded implementation of Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR) projects in 5 vulnerable countries which aimed to develop and demonstrate models for scaling up implementation of Eco-DRR and nature-based solutions for building resilience to disasters and climate change.
Funded by the European Commission, this 5 year project developed and tested 3 types of models for scaled up implementation:
1) influencing and mainstreaming Eco-DRR and Nature Based-Solution (NBS) principles and approaches through large national programmes, for instance the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Scheme in India, working in the State of Kerala to train state engineers, local governments and communities in implementing NBS and Eco-DRR projects through the emplyment schemes;
2) implementing community-based Eco-DRR projects in India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Haiti which demonstrated how local communities and local governments can implement Eco-DRR solutions which can in turn be used to influence national level policy and programmes;
3) mainstreaming Eco-DRR through global and regional level programmes / initiatives and institutions.
As a result, this project reached more than 300,000 direct and indirect beneficiaries, trained over 200 community based organizations and protected and restored close to 33,000 hectares of ecosystems. It also trained 185 universities and institutions on NbS, developed a MOOC that has over 60,000 registrations from 192 countries and close to 11,000 graduates already, 14 global and regional initiatives and 12 policy papers and guidelines developed in collaboration with multiple global partners including the Ramsar Convention and Convention on Biological Diversity.
In line with the UN Secretary- general’s commitment to deliver Early Warning Systems for All in 5 years (2028), UNEP is promoting and advancing Climate Information Early Warning Systems in multiple countries through Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) projects. UNEP has concluded Project Cooperation Agreements with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to serve as a technical partner for UNEP’s two approved Green Climate Fund (GCF) Climate Information and Early Warning Systems proposals. These two GCF projects builds on IFRC’s expertise in Forecast-based Financing.
To further enhance system-wide capacity for integrated risk analysis, UNEP also developed the Strata data platform to identify, map and monitor environmental and climate stresses potentially driving threats to peace and security. Strata offers the best available analytics and visualizations on where and how environment and climate stresses are converging with other factors of risk over space and time, to help field-based partners – national and regional bodies, political and peacekeeping missions, UN Resident Coordinators, UN country teams, EU Delegations and other stakeholders – to prioritize practical risk mitigation and resilience-building measures. A prototype of Strata focused on Somalia was launched in February 2022 to support the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia and the UN Country Team, as well as environmental and peacebuilding civil society organizations in the country.
5.7 solving challenges through international cooperation and enhancing the global partnership
The fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) served as an opportunity for the international community across all sectors, levels of government and walks of life, to come together to discuss and address global environmental issues. Driven by sound science, the UN Environment Assembly continued to inspire, identify and capture bold transformative actions for the environment, while focusing on solutions that speak to all. In February 2022, the United Nations Environmental Assembly endorsed the ‘End Plastic Pollution: Towards a legally binding instrument’ resolution to end plastic pollution, and forge an international legally binding agreement, by the end of 2024. It established an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee that will develop the specific content of the new plastic pollution treaty by the end of 2024.
5.8 harnessing science, technology and innovation with a greater focus on digital transformation for sustainable development
To further advance the implementation of the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, UNEP was one of the co-founders of the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) in March 2021. CODES was launched as a multi-stakeholder initiative to harness data and digital tools for accelerating environmental sustainability. It is coordinated by seven co-champions: UNEP, UNDP, Future Earth, Sustainability in the Digital Age, the International Science Council, the German Environment Agency, the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the UN Tech Envoy. During the Stockholm +50 meeting in June 2022, CODES launched an Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age. The CODES Action Plan, based on a year long co-design process with 1,000 stakeholders from over 100 countries, calls for three systemic shifts to integrate environmental sustainability into digital transformation resulting in a twin transition. These include: 1) enabling alignment between digital transformation and environmental sustainability through standards, training, and global coalitions of sustainability and digital-tech experts; 2) mitigating the negative environmental and social impacts of digital technologies including energy and e-waste amongst others; and 3) accelerating innovations for sustainability solutions with a focus on circular economy, sustainable production and consumption and new forms of governance. CODES has also mapped over 275 key stakeholders working on digital sustainability and published a number of use cases on digital sustainability. The CODES Action Plan proposes 9 Impact Initiatives to leverage digital transformation as a positive and exponential force for progressing sustainable development, while mitigating risks and unintended consequences. Materials from the CODES Action Plan served as the foundation for a new e-learning course by UNEP and the UN System Staff College on Digital4Sustainability launched during COP 27.
5.9 investing in data and statistics for the SDGs
The World Environment Situation Room (WESR) organizes data, information and knowledge around key environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution and waste; SDGs; and Multilateral Environment Agreements. It includes statistical and geospatial data, as well as a rich knowledge and publication repository. The WESR prototype was launched at UNEA 5.2 in February 2022. To date, WESR has federated more than 30 UNEP data platforms and topics including InforMEA, SCP-HAT, UN Biodiversity Lab, STRATA, IQAir, GEMStat, environmental SDG data downloader, environmental assessments, and foresight briefs. It also includes a knowledge repository with over 11000 publications. One of the use cases is WESR for Common Country Analysis (WESR CCA). WESR CCA presents data in dashboards for a total of 39 countries in 5 UNEP Regions using the DPSIR framework (Drivers, Pressures, States, Impacts and Responses). WESR CCA can be used by UN Country Teams to source country specific data and analysis supporting common country analysis (CCA) and sustainable development cooperation framework (UNSDCF) processes. Online Reporting Mechanism and Database on SDG 12.1.1 Member States, partners and programmes of the One Planet network are increasingly reporting on actions that directly contribute to reshaping consumption and production patterns through the 10YFP/One Planet network Reporting Platform. Since 2017, the annual reporting of the One Planet network has collected more than 4,000 policies and implementation activities showing the evolution of efforts on sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) across regions, sectors, stakeholder groups and value chain stages. Since 2019 over 400 policies in 59 countries and the European Union have been reported by Member States under Sustainable Development Goal indicator 12.1.1, through this online reporting mechanism. Policies and data reported under SDG 12.1.1 are accessible directly through the SDG Database and updated annually, it is similarly included on the One Planet network website under Country Profiles and on the SDG 12 Hub.
5.10 strengthening the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF)
UNEP participates actively in the HLPF with the aim to ensure the full integration of the environmental dimension of sustainable development across different sessions on topics such as: green recovery from the pandemic, addressing the planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, and sustainable consumption and production patterns, towards accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. UNEP is also involved in thematic sessions, special events and side events on issues relevant to its mandate and work during the sessions of the forum, with a focus on the environmental targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Pursuant to UNEA Resolution 3/3, the President of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), submits a written contribution on behalf of UNEA and conveys the key messages from UNEA to the ministerial segment of the forum in order to convey the main messages of the Environment Assembly presenting its contributions as an input to the forum’s debates. This has served as an opportunity to further strengthen links between the UNEA and the HLPF, reiterate the important role of the Environment Assembly as the highest decision-making body on environmental matters in the United Nations system and to convey UNEA’s key messages and recommendations to the forum. The participation of the ECOSOC President in the UNEA meetings has also strengthened the cooperation between these two fora.
UNEP will take active part in the High-Level Political Forum in 2023 under the theme "Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels”. The 2023 HLPF, under the auspices of ECOSOC, will also review SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy, SDG 9 on industry, innovation and infrastructure, SDG11 on sustainable cities and communities, and SDG17 on partnerships for the Goals.
UNEP also will contribute to the 2023 SDG Summit (HLPF under the auspices of the General Assembly), which will carry out a comprehensive review of the state of the SDGs, and provide high-level political guidance on transformative and accelerated actions leading up to the target year of 2030 for achieving the SDGs.
Official UN SDG 12 Hub by 10YFP Launched at the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) in 2020, the official UN SDG 12 Hub serves as a one-stop-shop for governments, businesses, civil society and the public for tracking progress on the achievement of Goal 12 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. The SDG 12 Hub is a collaboration across all the Custodian Agencies of SDG 12, as well as new UN implementation and capacity development partners added to the platform in 2022. The SDG 12 Hub offers direct access to: 1) Data reported on SDG 12 across its targets and indicators at global, regional and national level, in an interactive and easily digestible format (data visualizations) 2) Guidance material for reporting 3) Official reporting platforms (where accessible for the individual indicators) 4) Access to reports and other publications to which the data directly contributes 5) Access to a new Capacity Building Mechanism for SDG 12 Implementation (to be launched in December 2022) The SDG 12 Hub is a continuously evolving platform, aiming to meet the needs of stakeholders, in particular Member States, supporting directly their progress monitoring on SDG 12 and its practical implementation. Further to the new ‘Capacity Building Mechanism for SDG 12 Implementation’ being launched this year, next year will see the integration of dynamic and downloadable Narrative Reports to serve Member States, UN Country Teams and others, in their SDG 12 progress analysis across targets. With these new Narrative Report the platform can be used in support of processes such as Voluntary National Reviews, Common Country Analysis, Nationally Determined Contributions, and more.
Q6. Following the adoption of the 2022 Ministerial Declaration, please highlight any major integrated and innovative policies or initiatives that your organization may have adopted related to the below, if applicable:
6.1 Member States encouraged "the United Nations system and all relevant actors to take advantage of emerging technologies and their applications, as appropriate, in order to maximize impact and effectiveness in data analysis and collection and stress the need to bridge the digital gap among and within countries" (Paragraph 86)
Digital4Sustainability E-learning Course: the UN System Staff Colleague (UNSSC) and (UNEP) jointly launched a new e-learning course entitled Digital4Sustainability during COP 27. The course explores the transformational role that digital technologies and innovations can play in advancing environmental and social sustainability while also considering potential risks. The contents of the course are inspired by the Coalition for Digital Environmental Sustainability (CODES) and the Action Plan for a Sustainable Planet in the Digital Age launched at Stockholm +50 as part of the UN Secretary General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The course was developed in collaboration with GIZ and the European Commission together with the CODES co-champions including the German Environment Agency, the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the International Science Council, Future Earth, Sustainability in the Digital Age and the UN Development Programme. Upon successful completion of this e-learning path, participants will understand: Key concepts, including digitalization, digital transformation, and digital sustainability; The role of digital transformation in countering the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution; How to leverage the potential of digital transformation in advancing sustainability using a systems approach; The negative impacts of digital transformation and how to mitigate them to ensure it is inherently sustainable. There are four modules in this course which will be released successively during 2022-2023.
6.2 Member States specifically called upon the UN system "to work with the newly established United Nations Food Systems Coordination Hub, hosted by FAO, to support Governments to develop and strengthen SDG-based national pathways for sustainable food systems transformation" (Paragraph 128)
UNEP plays a critical role in the follow up to the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit. As Co-Chair of the UN Sustainable Food Systems Task Force (UNTF), UNEP liaises with the rest of the UN system to support the implementation of national food systems pathways and, together with WHO, participates to the Food Systems Coordination Hub’s Oversight Steering Group on behalf of the Task Force. Moreover, UNEP will (from Q1 2023) second a senior staff person to support the Hub in setting up an accountability framework, standards, metrics and guidelines to help country teams and member states deliver on the promise of national development pathways for food systems transformation. Finally, starting from Q4 2022, UNEP will leverage cross-Divisions technical expertise as well as regional collaboration mechanisms - in line with UN Reform and UNEP’s new delivery model – to strong environmental dimensions of food systems transformation at regional and national levels.
Q7. The 2023 SDG Summit is expected to provide political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development and follow-up and review progress in the implementation of sustainable development commitments and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, including through national and regional consultations, which will mark the beginning of a new phase of accelerated progress towards the SDGs. In the lead up to the 2023 SDG Summit, please provide your organization’s recommendations on how to overcome challenges to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs, taking into account the thematic reviews and voluntary national reviews conducted to date.
In order to ensure that environment related SDGs lagging behind are addressed and that the environmental perspectives of all SDGs are taken into consideration, UNEP recommends:
- Address Earth’s environmental emergencies and human well-being together. Establish mechanisms and approaches for cross-sectoral coordination of assessments, policies, legislation, enforcement and financing, including through integrated approaches such as a One Health policy for human and animal health and the environment.
- Transform economic and financial systems so they lead and power the shift toward sustainability. Reform national economic, financial, planning and tax systems to include natural capital (using inclusive wealth as a measure of sustainable economic performance) and environmental costs (by internalizing externalities) in decision-making. Integrate the goals of carbon neutrality, land degradation neutrality and conservation of biodiversity into all economic and fiscal policies and decisions.
- Invest in economic activities, research and development – nationally and through international development assistance and transfer of technology – that enhance the stock of natural assets and advance the shift towards sustainability and a low-carbon economy.
- Provide funding for developing countries to meet their obligations under the multilateral environmental agreements and SDGs.
- Transform food, water, and energy systems to meet growing human needs in an equitable, resilient and environmentally friendly manner. Integrate sustainable production and management of food and water within terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Make agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, and resource extraction biodiversity positive. Promote sustainable agricultural intensification, agroecological practices and conservation of genetic resources. Stop overfishing. Promote healthy diets and reductions in food and water waste. Restrict groundwater extraction and advance appropriate water pricing and the use of agricultural, forestry, and fisheries certification standards.
- Accelerate transformation of high-impact sectors, such as food, energy, water, buildings and construction, manufacturing, and mobility, through adopting and implementing policies to promote circularity, resource efficiency, regenerative production approaches and nature-based solutions in value chains and adopting frameworks that enhance and reinforce transparency and accountability by businesses.
- Strengthen national implementation of existing environmental commitments through enhancing environmental national legislation, budget, planning processes and institutional frameworks; promoting evidence-based policymaking, including enhanced collaboration between academic disciplines and thematic scientific panels, drawing on insights and expertise from indigenous and traditional knowledge; and scaling-up capacity support and development, access to and financing for environmentally sound technologies.