Initial Briefing on United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA)

Today, Mr. Harris began the meeting by introducing its agenda, which entailed briefing member states on the upcoming Second Session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2), which will be held at the UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from May 23, 2016 to May 27, 2016.  He mentioned that the theme of the forum will be discussing ways to deliver on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the event will center on calling ministers from UN member states to form resolutions that address critical global environmental challenges.  He stated that the event will also involve inter-governmental and non-governmental actors to add to the discussions on addressing critical issues related to air quality, healthy ecosystems, chemicals, wastes, etc.

Mr. Harris also mentioned that numerous side events, as well as, a “Science and Policy Forum,” which aims to bring people from the science and policy communities to strengthen dialogue and collaboration on achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs), would lead up to the UNEA-2.  Lastly, he stated that a debriefing would be held on June 8, 2016 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to share with member states all the resolutions and developments from the UNEA-2 and other side events and meetings.  Mr. Ahmad added that countries that do not have accredited permanent representatives in Nairobi, Kenya could send delegates who can contribute to the discussions of the CPR to UNEP.

Meeting: A Briefing by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to Member States on the Second Session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2)

Date/Time/Location: Tuesday, May 3, 2016; 10:00 – 12:00; Conference Room 1

Speakers: Mr. Elliot Harris, Assistant Secretary-General (ASG) and Head of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) New York Office (NYO); Mr. Jamil Ahmad, Secretary for the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment (GC/GMEF) and the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Written By: WIT Representative Shubhangi Shukla

 

“No Waste Water, Only Wasted Water”

   A new report, “The UNSGAB Journey”, on water and sanitation was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB) at today’s press conference. The advisory board was founded in 2004 by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan “to bring together eminent people to advise on how to solve the planet’s foremost water and sanitation troubles, suggest a handful of attainable recommendations and a concise plan of action, and then provide the high-level leadership needed to galvanize the international community into action on the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for drinking water and sanitation.” The group’s 11-year mandate has come to an end and this is the final work to be put out by the group.

   The report shines light on 7 tipping points to transform the water world:

  1. Build attention to water and sanitation: create the will to act now
  2. Drinking Water: More. Managed. Monitored. Made safe.
  3. Bring sanitation into the mainstream
  4. Push for increased and improved financial flows
  5. Catalyze better water resources management. IWRM and Nexus: within and between countries, across sectors
  6. Demand UN attention to pollution prevention, wastewater treatment and safe reuse
  7. Promote protection and prevent death and damage from water-related disasters

   The report also includes words of wisdom for future advisory groups and discusses unfinished business and tasks for the future.

   The advisory group worked by identifying personalities and institutions that had high leverage and would be able to bring political attention to sanitation and UNSGAB was successful in putting wastewater management on the UN agenda. The speakers left the audience with the mantra “there is no waste water, but only wasted water.”

Meeting: Launch of a New Report by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB)

Speakers: Ms. Uschi Eid, United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB); and UNSGAB Members: Ms. Maggie Catley-Carlson; Ms. Maria Mutagamba; and Mr. Gerard Payen.

Written By: WIT Representative Tania Makker

Edited By: WIT Representative Alex Margolick

Photo credit: https://sourceable.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/water-recycling.jpg

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