Women and Climate Change

This meeting discussed climate change and its relationship with women. Ms.Nusseibeh explained that women comprise up to 60% of the agricultural work force in some countries and farms can be devastated by drought and desertification. Women are also more vulnerable to violence when they are required to travel farther to gather essential supplies and during periods of forced migration. Mr. Sachs discussed areas where funding needed to be “scaled-up”. Examples included education, which he claimed was essential to women empowerment and sustainable development goals and clean energy, to mitigate the effects of climate change. Ms. Puri stated that empowering

women was essential to finding solutions to both gender equality and climate change. Climate change and extreme weather also has an effect on society, as conflict, often derived from gender inequality, is worsened by these environmental changes. For examples, in small island states, rising sea levels have caused forced migration, exacerbating social tensions in these regions. She also stated that the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka killed approximately 1 in 5 displaced women, nearly twice the amount of displaced men. Ms. Markham emphasized the need for women to be active in policymaking because it is necessary to mitigate climate change. To do this, the insecure land and tenure rights, obstructed access to national resources, the burden of domestic duty, and other social restrictions placed upon women need to be lifted in order to increase decision making within women and girls. Ms. Blomstrom continued upon this point, as she stressed the necessity of adequate legal framework to allow women to become empowered activists and leaders.

 

Title: Women, Peace, Security in the Context of Climate Change

Date/Location: Thursday, 15 January 2015; 13:15-14:45; Conference Room 4
Speakers: Lana Nusseibeh Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations; Susan Markham, Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment; Eleanor Blomstrom, Program Director for Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO); Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women; Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Professor of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University
Written By: Elise Freeman
Edited By: Modou Cham

World Information Transfer’s 23rd International Conference: Our Children’s World

Ecology E 2012Dr. Durbak began the conference by reiterating that healthy people need a healthy environment. Accurate information regarding health and the environment is necessary to allow policymakers to make well-informed decisions. Governments must make use of the precautionary principle, which is based on the idea that we must “do no harm.” Common sense must be used in decision-making when scientific evidence is not available, and children must be educated to understand this idea.

Sustainable development goals, explained Mr. Seth, are not just different bullet points on a list. Instead, they exist as a map of interconnections and progress in one is dependent on progress in the others. In the future, development must not be addressed with more and more new policy frameworks, but rather with real implementation.

Dr. Shuman focused on the effect of the West African Ebola outbreak on children. Children are typically infected at lower rates because they are not caregivers, but once infected their mortality rates are very high. Over 3,700 children have been orphaned because of the current outbreak. These children are stigmatized and shunned because of the fear surrounding Ebola.

Air pollution, Dr. Thurston said, can be more dangerous for children than for adults. Taking action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will help the global environment as well as local health. In developing countries, coal burning and indoor biomass burning are serious health threats.

Dr. Ratzan discussed education’s role in increasing health literacy and advocated the utilization of mobile device technology to ensure good, valid health and environmental information is always only an arm’s length away.

Mr. Doyle highlighted the ability of social media to be harnessed as a vehicle to provide information to the public at the click of a button, helping us build a better future.

Mr. Gupta closed by urging young people to work together to create the world we need. This is a generation that is uniquely fitted to deal with current global crises. As essentially borderless people due to modern technology, the youth must ensure that cross-boundary connections are of humanitarian value. How we choose to associate with our interconnectedness will impact on way issues are dealt with.

Meeting: World Information Transfer 23rd International Conference: Our Children’s World
Location/Date: 1 December 2014, Conference Room 1, UN Headquarters, New York
Speakers: Dr. Christine K. Durbak, Conference Chair and Founder, World Information Transfer, Inc.; H.E. Yuriy Sergeyev, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations; Mr. Nikhil Seth, Director for Sustainable Development, DESA, United Nations; Dr. Scott Ratzan, MD, Adj. Prof., Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health; Dr. Emily K. Shuman, MD, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan; Mr. Alex Konanykhyn, President, KMGi; Mr. Wayne Doyle, Director, Liberatrix Media Consulting, Inc.; Ms. Gianna Simone, Activist and Actress; Apurv Gupta, Youth Representative.
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey

The Development, Transfer, and Dissemination of Clean and Environmentally Sound Technologies

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Today, a meeting was convened to discuss the development, transfer, and dissemination of clean and environmentally sound technologies in order to inform the General Assembly on options for technology facilitation mechanisms. The moderator, H.E. Mr. Patriota, began the panel discussion by giving a statement on the progress made in environmentally sound technology inclusion in the Open Working Group of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The outcome document recognizes the importance of technology in the SDGs, with 19 targets in 11 different goals dedicated to promoting the development and transfer of sustainable technologies.

Following, H.E. Mr. Seger of Switzerland gave a statement on how the president of the General Assembly suggested that a procedural resolution would be welcomed to provide the basis for the continuation ofthese discussions on sustainable technology implementation.

Next, ASG Mr. Gass from DESA spoke about how the UN can support existing technology mechanisms, build on existing legal frameworks, and facilitate additional access to information about technologies. He recommended three options: improve information and mapping of existing technology facilitation activities, increase synergies and coherenceamong existing facilities, and conduct an analysis of technology needs and gaps in order to address them.

Furthermore, Mr. Christensen, the Senior Partnerships Advisor for the Executive Office of the SG, stated how multi stakeholder coalitions, including private sector and non-state actors, are necessary for effective technology dissemination. “When we bring multiple stakeholders together, thesum is bigger than each of its parts; each of these partnerships have technology transfer components,” he said.

Concluding the panel discussion, Professor Naboth van den Broek from Georgetown spoke about the private sector view on technology development and transfer, and the elements which are important from a private sector perspective when thinking about international technology dissemination. The key factors he highlighted include how technology solutions tend to be local, the challenge of the lack of technology infrastructure in the developing world, the need for a stable and predictable legal and regulatory environment, the need for education and capacity building on the ground, and the barriers to markets and trade like existing tariffs on clean technology products in certain developing countries. These factors affect the extent to which a private company can engage in local partnerships for sustainable technology solutions.

 

Meeting Title: Fourth Structured Dialogue of the General Assembly to Consider Possible Arrangements for the Facilitation Mechanism to Promote the Development, Transfer, and Dissemination of Clean and Environmentally Sound Technologies
Speakers: H.E. Mr. Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil; H.E. Mr. Paul Seger, Permanent Representative of Switzerland; Mr. Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary General (ASG), Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA); Mr. Thomas Christensen, Senior Partnerships Advisor, Executive Office of the Secretary General; Professor Naboth van den Broek, Georgetown University
Date: 23 July 2014
Location: Trusteeship Council, United Nations HQ, New York
Written By WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Bringing Young People To The Forefront Of SDG Monitoring

download (1)Plan International convened a panel to seek best practices on consultation method involving young people, so that the future monitoring process of the sustainable development goals can include effective participation of young people.

The Chair opened by asking young advocates if they know of any institutions of consultation in which young people’s view can be collected. One institution discussed is the UN Young Delegate programme, in which member states nominate young people of their country to speak in the Third Committee of the General Assembly. While there is enthusiasm surrounding this proposal, there are concerns as to whether the programme can reach out to the most marginalized children in a country. Further, there are also questions as to whether the Youth Delegates can reach out to their constituencies during their tenure in New York, which is core to their task of representing young people in their country.

Further consultation mechanisms, such as universal periodic review mechanism used by the UN Human Rights Council are advocated as possible means to involve young people in monitoring the progress of the SDGs. The mechanism’s provision for civil society to write shadow reports in response to member states’ submission allow young people to pinpoint lapses in the country’s progress and areas for improvement. The role of national Youth Advisory Board, a mechanism mentioned and strengthened in the Colombo Declaration of Youth, is also highlighted as a possible means of monitoring and consultation.

Attention is also paid as to whether the outcome of the monitoring process can be fed back to the decision-makers, as there are worries as to consultation of youth being reduced to a mere public relations exercise. Concerns about the decision-makers’ capacity to engage with young people were also raised, as some young delegates mentioned their experience of being patronized when making suggestions.

Meeting Title: Youth participation in monitoring to ensure accountability for the post-2015 development framework
Speakers: Representative from Plan International, Representative from Overseas Development Institute, UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth and Youth Delegates
Location: Conference Room 7, North Lawn Building, United Nations Headquarters
Date: 2 July 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Harrison Chung
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Private Sector’s Current State of Play in the SDG Process

masthead_resourcesDr Louise Kantrow opened the discussion by noting the paradigm transition from the MDGs to the SDGs, wherein the role of the private sector has grown. ICC coordinated the Global Business Alliance 2015, which brought together global and regional business organisations aimed at constructively engaging with the post 2015 process and the UN agencies. The key points from the private sector perspective are the following: effective governance, rule of law, and security are critical enablers to achieve the SDGs; poverty eradication involves economic growth and jobs creations; and therefore it is crucial to address the informal employment and low governance challenges arisen in many developing countries.

H.E. Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou recognised that the global environmental and social challenges should be addressed through mobilising private finance for SDGs, innovative and technologically advanced business models. There is a move in the approach of the private sector from maximising profits for shareholders to stakeholders and the planet should be considered a stakeholder. Ms Esin Mete, then addressed the importance of agriculture and rural development as primary drivers to address poverty reduction and food security.

Mr Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro stated that 75 million young people are currently unemployed. It is imperative to not just address the quantity but the quality of jobs available. As economic growth does not automatically create jobs, the private sector is the core driver of jobs. He then addressed the critical need to create a safe environment for workers as every 15 seconds one worker is killed due to working accidents: making it a world epidemic.

Finally Ms Katharine Maloney underlined the fundamental beliefs of KPMG to explain their active participation in the consultations of the post 2015 agenda. First, they recognise the paradigm shift explained previously by Dr Louise Kantrow. Second profitability and developmental agenda are not mutually exclusive. Third, business and social values are inextricably linked. Fourth, the private sector can provide a lot more than money, for instance real ideas, innovation, technical know how and a lot more resources.

Meeting Title: Private Sector Briefing: Current State of Play in the SDG process
Speakers: Dr Louise Kantrow, ‎Permanent Representative to the United Nations at International Chamber of Commerce; H.E. Jean-Francis Regis Zinsou, Permanent Representative of Republic of Benin to the UN; Ms Esin Mete, Director General, IFA (International Fertilizer Industry Association); Mr Vinicius Carvalho Pinheiro, Deputy Director of the ILO Office for the United Nations; Ms Katharine Maloney, Director, Development and Exempt Organizations (DEO) Practice at KPMG LLP.
Date: 3 July 2014
Location: Conference Room 5, NLB, United Nations, New York.
Written by WIT Representative: Aslesha Kaur Dhillon

Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda

unnamedAs part of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), a side event was convened to discuss how small food producers and family farms can support the achievement of sustainable development through sustainable agriculture and food systems. H.E. Mr. Grigsby opened the dialogue by highlighting how crucial a world free from poverty, hunger, and malnutrition is in the ambitious post 2015 development agenda. But this goal cannot be achieved without a shift to more productive and resilient food systems that are economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable. If we can economically empower small farmers through access to knowledge, social production, and viable markets, they can serve as these sustainable food systems.

H.E. Mr. Aguiar Patriota continued the discussion by focusing on the impact of large scale farming in Brazil. While these commercialized farms provide Brazil with the wherewithal to become a powerful actor in the international community, they have a less desirable social and environmental impact. These farms lead to a decrease in jobs, resulting in sizable migration flows internally that compound the pre-existing problems of big cities in Brazil.

Ms. Brennen-Haylock commented on how investing in these small food producers can empower them to become critical agents of change for a future of food and nutrition security for all. Investments directed towards family farmers enhance their capacity to invest in their own productivity, as well as helping them address new market demands and environmental pressures. To close, Ms. Brennen-Haylock stressed the concerns of women in agriculture. If women had the same access to productive resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. This would raise the total agricultural output in development countries by 2.5-4%, and thus reduce the number of hungry people in the world by a staggering 12-17% – a number that would go a long way in decreasing world hunger.

Meeting Title: Small food producers and family farmers as agents for change for sustainable agriculture and food systems in the post-2015 agenda
Speakers: Dr. Jes Weigelt, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; Dr. Molly Anderson, College of the Atlantic’s Sustainable Food Systems Program; H.E. Mr. Sylvester M. Grigsby, Deputy Foreign Minister of Liberia; Ms. Sharon Brennen-Haylock, FAO; H.E. Ambassador Irene Susan Natividad, Ambassador from Philippines; H.E. Mr. Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Ambassador from Brazil; Mr. Jesse Laflamme, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs; Ms. Adrienne Gardez, UN Global Compact
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 6
Date: 1 July 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited By WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon 

Ideas And Trends That Can Shape The Lives Of Present And Future Generations

imagesA moderated dialogue took place at the 2nd meeting of the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to address the emerging challenges that will affect future generations. Making reference to Rio+20 ‘The Future We Want’ report, Mr. Mcbean affirmed the need to promote intergenerational solidarity for the achievement of sustainable development. He highlighted the negative impacts of climate change, particularly loss of biodiversity and frequent disasters, deteriorate the quality of life in a global and intergenerational scale. Taking into account uncertainty always exists, he demanded a sense of reality and adoption of better risk management.

Mr. Nakicenovic saw education as the critical tool for human capacity building. He urged for sustainability revolution to proceed at a greater speed and, by all means through SDGs, universal access of energy, sanitation and education beyond 2030 can be achieved to fully eliminate inequality across all scales in future generations. Mr. Daives introduced the Wales Bill to illustrate good governance and decision-making for the long term. He quoted “the Bill has the power to resolve intergenerational challenges beyond the term of one government and beyond the scope of government alone”. The mechanisms of the Bill includes the setting of national long-term development goals, the requirement of public settings to demonstrate how their policies can meet national long-term goals and establishment of an independent future generation commissioner with legal power to advocate for the long-term.

Mr. Szabo discussed the role of national institutions in safeguarding future generations. He highlighted both industrialized and developing countries suffering from important structure problem and national institutions can initiate public dialogue on the long-term wellbeing of society, help cultivate environmental literacy and help the national implementation of UN Policies in the safeguarding of the needs of future generation. Finally, he pointed out many institutions adopted the Budapest Memorandum to promote the spread of national institutions for future generations and to safeguard their interest in the SDGs target.

Meeting Title: Ideas and trends that can shape the lives of present and future generations
Speakers: Mr. Gordon McBean , President-elect, International Council for Science; Mr. Nebojsa Nakicenovic , Deputy Director of IIASA, Director of Global Energy Assessment, and professor of Vienna University of Technology; Mr. Peter Davies, Sustainable Futures Commissioner for Wales, UK; Mr. Marcel Szabó , Deputy-Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Responsible for the Protection of the Interest of Future Generations, Hungary; Ms. Catherine Pearce , World Future Council
Location: Trusteeship Council, UNHQ, New York
Date: 1 July 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by Wit Representative: Aslesha Dhillon

Briefing on The Secretary-General’s Climate Summit

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Prior to the UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in 2015, Climate Summit 2014 will be held on 23rd of September to galvanize climatic actions. A briefing on this Summit was held to address the planning of the Summit’ programme. The Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team will be available for Member States to make inquires for preparation of the Summit.

A representative from EOSG stated that Head of States and Governments will deliver their national climate policies after the Secretary-General’s opening speech.The National Action and Ambition Announcements should provide new or scaled-up ambitions and actions, for instance, demonstrating the investment in resilience, pricing of pollution, the involvement and mobilisation of private actors on climate action. Also the national announcements must convey the message of placing the world on a less than 2 degree pathway that aligns politics and economics.

Heads of State and leaders from finance, business and civil society will announce multilateral and multi-stakeholders action initiatives with respects to energy efficiency and renewable; climate finance; adaptation, resilience and disaster risk reduction; transport, cities, forest and agriculture as well as climate pollutants. The action initiatives need to express the urgency of capitalizing the Green Climate Fund and mobilizing the $100 billion. Thematic discussion on climate science, co-benefits of climatic action, economic case for action and voices of climate frontlines will showcase innovative policies and practices.

While Climate Summit 2014 will not cater any side events, a Climate Week in New York City will take place from the 22nd to 28th of September to provide an alternative platform for governments, businesses and civil society’s public engagement. Finally, the representative highlighted there will be no negotiated outcome from this Summit. The results of the summit will be captured to catalyze ambitious action on the ground and mobilise political will for a global legal climate agreement by 2015.

Meeting: Briefing on The Secretary-General’s Climate Summit
Speakers: Representative from Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG)
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 27 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability

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Today an event was held which highlighted how environmental sustainability is an integral part in humanitarian aid effectiveness. The panelists in this meeting discussed the findings from a report entitled “Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability.”

The first speaker, Ms. Gebremedhin, the Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland, began by addressing various environmental issues that need to be taken into account during humanitarian action, in order for it to reach its full potential. For example, management of solid wastes and hazardous materials and safeguarding natural resources are essential, and the reduction of deforestation, desertification, and pollution is necessary for sustained livelihoods in the aftermath of a disaster. Furthermore, efficient leadership and accountability are needed in humanitarian situations, and addressing environmental concerns is a shared responsibility between donors and humanitarian organisations.

Following, Mr. Khalikov, Director of OCHA Geneva, stated the effectiveness of humanitarian aid is dependent on environmental conditions. He cited floods and draughts as main environmental threats that can complicate an already existing humanitarian crisis, like a famine or armed conflict.

Ms. Anita van Breda from WWF USA spoke about combining climate change adaptation strategies with disaster risk reduction. She highlighted the Green Recovery Program – a partnership between WWF and the American Red Cross –, which works to sustain livelihoods, provide adequate water, sanitation, and shelter, and deals with disaster management. Her three key recommendations to take the environment into consideration when taking humanitarian action included: updating academic training and professional development, learning to manage change and developing new ways of learning, and ensuring that staff and volunteers have the necessary discipline, skills, and aptitude.

Concluding the meeting Ms. Costa, the Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission spoke about the threat faced by women and girls when they have to leave their refugee camps to collect firewood for cooking and heating. Many have to travel 5 or 6 hours a day to collect enough wood to cook just one meal, and on the journey are raped, beaten, or killed. Ms. Costa emphasised the importance of shifting communities away from dependence on wood fuel and towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options in order to decrease the threat of this gender based violence and to reduce deforestation and resource overconsumption.

Meeting Title: Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability
Speakers: Ms. Anna Gebremedhin, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland; Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Geneva; MS. Anita van Breda, Director of Humanitarian Partnerships, WWF USA; Ms. Sarah Costa, Executive Director of Women’s Refugee Commission
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Energy Efficiency Accelerators at SE4ALL

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Luis Gomez-Echeverri, moderator of the Sustainable Energy Forum, spoke about options for alternative resource development in a number of countries, and spoke about the importance of energy efficiency. Between 1974 and 2010, energy efficiency was the main focus in 11 countries associated with the International Energy Agency. R.K. Pachauri, Director General of TERI, talked about conservation of energy. To maintain energy efficiency, the negative carbon emissions need to decrease by 450 million. In order to accomplish this, legislative procedures need to be put in place and also budgets needs to increase.

Reid Detchon discussed the governmental role in providing funds to start an accelerator program. In order to accelerate the implementation policies on the Energy Efficiency Accelerator approach, the current slow process in formulating effective funding must be accelerated.

Setting the correct policy framework is the main goal. Detchon suggested that all willing governments address policy questions, provide technical services and, most importantly, engage civil society. Clay Nesler, who represents Johnson Controls’, approach to the realization of the accelerator program is to engage cities to commit to participate with the program and get local governments to commit to funding. Nesler announced that if all goes through, the official kickoff will be in Paris. He elaborated on getting assistance by using logistics to scale up the cost of sustainable and renewable energy, and ensuring price and project autonomy.

 

Meeting Title: Sustainable Energy Forum: Energy Efficiency Accelerators
Speakers: Luis Gomez-Echeverri, Senior Research Scholar, IIASA and Senior Advisor, SE4ALL; Reid Detchon, Vice President Energy and Climate, United Nations Foundation; R. K. Pachauri, Director General, TERI; Steven L. Kukoda, Vice President, International Copper Association, Ltd.; Clay Nesler, Vice President Global Energy and Sustainability, Johnson Controls; Alfred Haas, Vice President, Osram; Ivan Jaques, Head, Energy Efficient Cities, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program ESMAP, WB; Paul Voss, Managing Director, Euroheat and Power; Sheila Watson, Director of Environment and Research, FIA Foundation; Josué Tanaka, Managing Director, Operational Strategy, EBRD
Location: United Nations UQ, Trusteeship Council, New York 
Date: 4 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Leslie Anokye
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark