Arctic Ocean Resilience: Can critical tipping points still be avoided?

This meeting was a side event for the Ocean Conference concerning the resilience of the Arctic. It was held by the Government of Sweden, Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centrum.

Oceans Conference

H.E. Ms Isabella Lövin opened the meeting with statistics and images’ displaying global warming’s effects on the Arctic Ocean. She emphasized that the Arctic has been changing due to global warming for much longer than the time these changes have received scientific and media attention.

Regarding the Arctic Resilience Report, Dr Marcus Carson believed that the Arctic communities could be highly resilient if they could be organized and integrated with knowledge. Dr Tom Armstrong emphasized that what happened in the Arctic didn’t stay in the Arctic; the Arctic-Pacific Ocean interaction increased the temperature and the acidity of the water which was the direct the evidence of human impact on climate and oceans. Ms Matilda Ernkrans asserted that we all had to be passionate and patient on the issue because it was never easy to get a broad agreement.

Meeting: Arctic Ocean Resilience: Can critical tipping points still be avoided?

Date/Location: Friday, June 9, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room 4, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: H.E. Ms Isabella Lövin, Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate, and Deputy Prime Minister; Dr Marcus Carson, Stockholm Environment Institute, Project Director, Arctic Resilience Assessment; Dr Tom Armstrong, Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program; Mr Joel Clement, Director, Office of Policy Analysis, U.S Department of the Interior; Dr Pinsak Suraswadi, Director, Marine and Coastal Resources Research Institute, Bangkok, Thailand; Ms Liisa Rohweder, Secretary General, WWF Finland, Chair – WWF Arctic Program; Ms Matilda Ernkrans, Member of the Swedish Parliament, Chair of the Committee for Environment and Agriculture; Dr Tom Arnbom, Senior Advisor, Marine and Arctic, WWF Sweden; Ambassador Jouni Laaksonen, Deputy Permanent Representative of Finland to the UN

Written by: WIT Representative Brady Leung

Edited by: WIT Representative Mariel Brunman

Dimensions of Marine Debris


Dede’s trash barrel. Java 2012. Mandatory photo credit: Noyle/A-Frame

At this afternoon’s meeting panellists provided several comprehensive overviews regarding marine debris, plastics and microplastics, allowing for an overall description of the problem and the knowledge gaps present, sources of land and sea based debris, as well as insights on potentially scalable solutions that have previously been implemented.

It is clear that scientific research and data collection is an important element in tackling the problem of marine debris, with many knowledge and data gaps remaining: understanding the distribution, sources and types of plastics that make their way to oceans can help develop recovery mechanisms and the prevention of further plastic accumulation; learning the impacts of previously under-researched microplastics can help evaluate the effects on food chains and marine biodiversity; and innovative development of plastic alternatives can shift business production to ‘cleaner’ goods. Awareness and education also has the power of changing consumptive habits and waste disposal patterns to more eco-conscious practices. Along with shoreline clean-ups, the need for more efficient port waste disposal sites and incentive schemes for all target groups, including commercial and recreational fishing, has been shown to be a successful method for reducing material dumping at sea. Lessons-learnt should continue to be shared in order to learn the best-practices and help develop more efficient mechanisms to deal with plastic waste.

Meeting: Discussion panel: The environmental, social and economic dimensions of marine debris, plastics and microplastics and progress made in preventing, reducing and controlling pollution from marine debris, plastics and microplastics

Date/Time/Location: 13th of June, 2016; 15:00 – 18:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Mr. Peter Kershaw, Chairman of GESAMP and Chairman of the GESAMP Working Group on Microplastics; Ms. Lorna Inniss, Coordinator, Former Joint Coordinator of the Group of Experts of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects; Ms. Jenna Jambeck, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia; Ms. Kelsey Richardson, Former Marine Debris Consultant, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); Peter Van den Dries, Policy Advisor, Flemish Waste Agency; Stefan Micallef, Director Marine Environment Division, International Maritime Organization

Written By: Lena Courcol, WIT Representative

Edited By: Modou Cham, WIT Administrator 

Rising Inequality and the Threat of Climate Change

images-3“Overcoming inequality and slowing global warming are imperative for achieving a world free from poverty and suffering”, said Mr. Offenheiser at his opening speech this morning. The 85 richest people own the same amount of wealth as half of the world’s poorest population. Furthermore, climate change could increase the number of people who are at risk of hunger by up to twenty percent by 2050. Therefore, economic inequality and climate change are clearly addressed in the proposed goals for the post-2015 development agenda to develop a new global framework, which aims at ending poverty and protecting the planet.

Professor Sachs highlighted the urgency of tackling both the climate change and inequality problems, as they are both vital to the survival and health of our society. “If climate change is not in the headline, this is worthless. It is the toughest and most important environmental issue that requires two generations to get this problem controlled”, he said firmly. Ambassador Patriota gave a comprehensive statement about inequality across the whole agenda by emphasizing how “universality” is needed to ensure no one is left behind. He also talked about inequality in the environmental, and economic and social aspects in terms of legal empowerment.

Ms. Mohammad agreed with Ambassador Patriota on the broader context of inequality and universality. It is critical to the poverty agenda, which is the overarching ambition in eradicating poverty. Both climate change and poverty go together Ms. Mohammad said. She emphasized the urgency to address these twin challenges in an integrated approach. All panellists agreed that addressing inequality is very important to the health of our society and needs to be understood in a multi-dimensional way. On climate change, there is no overriding consensus as it is a substantial issue threatening both people and the environment.


Meeting Title: Panel discussion on “Post-2015: How can the new framework best address rising inequality and the threat of climate change?”
Speakers: Mr.Paul Ladd, Head of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, UNDP; Mr. Ray Offenheiser, President and CEO, Oxfam America; Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network; H.E. Ambassador Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN; H.E. Ambassador Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota, Deputy Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN; Mr. François Gave, Counsellor for Development and Sustainable Development, Permanent Mission of France to the UN; Ms. Amina Mohammed, Special Adviser of the Secretary General on Post-2015 Development Planning
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 7
Date: 17 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

Acceleration Sustainable Energy Deployment through Support for Energy Innovation

On the first day of the Sustainable Energy for All Forum, the second session focused on catalysing investment through innovative business models.


Mr. Zindler, a representative of the Bloomberg team, started by introducing his field, which focuses on new energy technologies and investment in clean energy. Mr Zindler highlighted the current challenges for policymakers, especially in developing countries. Firstly, it is difficult to find the appropriate level of support for renewables, given the uncertainty over costs. Allocating support costs equitably, integrating renewables into the grid and preparing for cost parity are equally difficult. Therefore, he would like to come up with ideas about promoting innovation for policies and financials, efficiently in the near future.

Mr. Sarkar followed by highlighting the current challenges in terms of energy efficiency implementation in the developing world since different countries use different financial instruments. Therefore, he introduced three implementation models to tackle the challenges and financing gap categorized under the Energy Efficiency Fund (EE Fund), namely the public model, private model and public private partnerships (PPPs). He emphasized that PPPs has a possibility of bringing in new sources of financing for funding public infrastructure and service needs. Some countries like Romania, Bulgaria, Korea and India are already implementing the EE Fund. This fund would be able to support energy efficiency, renewable energy and promote economic development and energy security.

Mr. Roders, who moderated the meeting, concluded the session with an example – introducing the innovative programming for climate change, which is a performance-based financing for projects and sectors. One of the advantages of this programming is that it catalyses the engagement of the private sector, including PPS, risk-mitigation and structured financing tools, global certification, standards programs and SME Small Grant Program.


Meeting Title: Accelerating Sustainable Energy Deployment through Support for Innovation
Speakers: David Rodgers, Senior Climate Change Specialist, Climate and Chemicals, GEF; Ethan Zindler, Head of Policy Analysis, Bloomberg New Energy Finance ; Ashok Sarkar, Senior Energy Specialist, World Bank
Location: UN Headquarters, Trusteeship Council
Date: 4 June 2014
Written By WIT representative: Samantha Kong
Edited by WIT representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark