French Ameri-Can Climate Talks in the Lead up to COP21 in Paris 

Building up to the  UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), UNEP partnered with the French embassies in both Canada and the United States to organize and participate in the FACTS (French Ameri-Can Climate Talks) conference series. The events aimed to mobilize French, American, and Canadian public opinion on climate change and reinforce the dialogue between experts from these countries. 

The FACTS series took place in twelve cities in the United States and Canada and involved renowned scientists, civil society representatives, NGOs, political figures, journalists and entrepreneurs. 

UNEP Regional Director, Patricia J. Beneke, and Deputy Regional Director, Fatou Nodye, represented UNEP at the FACTs events and presented at four talks on a range of themes including: “Can Technology Halt Climate Change” in San Francisco, California; “Innovation and Engagement with the Private Sector” in Washington, D.C.; “Impacts of Sea Level Rise on Local Communities” in Miami, Florida; and “Health and Climate Change” in Toronto, Ontario.


17 November 2015 - Celebrating 20 Years of Protecting the Marine Environment 

The 20th anniversary of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) was commemorated on 17 November in Washington, D.C., the original location of the signing of the Declaration in 1995. The GPA is the only global intergovernmental mechanism directly addressing the connectivity between terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. 

Organized by the UNEP Regional Office for North America and hosted at the UN Foundation, the meeting featured expert panelists on marine litter, wastewater, and nutrient runoff. Moderated by Patricia J. Beneke, UNEP’s Regional Director with welcoming remarks from the UNEP’s Division of Environmental Policy Implementation Director, Mette Wilkie, keynote speakers included Ambassador Judith G. Garber from the U.S. Department of State and by Dr. Richard Spinrad, Chief Scientist from the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

 A reception followed with remarks from special guests Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI); U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Jane Nishida; and renowned marine life artist and conservationist, Wyland.

Two important reports were launched at the event: “Biodegradable Plastics & Marine Litter: Misconceptions, Concerns and Impacts on Marine Environments” and “Economic Valuation of Wastewater.” 

29 October 2015 - International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action 2015 

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable, yet childhood lead exposure is estimated to contribute to about 600,000 new cases of children with intellectual disabilities every year. Over half of the nations in the world continue to allow the use of lead in decorative paint, even though good substitutes without lead are available. 

The International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week of Action was held from 25-31 October to raise awareness and highlight efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning. The Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint held a briefing for governments on "The Elimination of Lead in Paint: How Countries Can Take Action." The event was hosted by the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and co-sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme, the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization and the U.S. Government. 

During the meeting, the Toolkit for Establishing Laws for Lead in Residential Paint was presented, along with case studies by Uruguay, the Philippines, Kenya and Canada, which detailed the countries’ experiences in the development of lead paint regulations and legislation. The work in these countries can serve as a model for the efforts of other governments to take action to eliminate lead paint globally by 2020. 


September 24, 2015 - Rally Supports Pope’s Call for Moral Action on Climate Justice

Thousands gathered outside the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to watch Pope Francis, the first pope to ever address a joint meeting of congress. Supporting the Pope’s message for climate justice was the “Moral Action on Climate Justice Rally” that featured an all-star lineup of musicians, religious leaders and climate justice activists on the National Mall. Performers include Moby, Sean Paul, Natasha Bedingfield, among others, and speakers such as Reverend Pedro Jimeno Barreto Archbishop of Huancayo. United Nations Environment Programme Regional Director, Patricia J. Beneke, and Deputy Regional Director, Fatou Ndoye, echoed the Pope’s call for individual and collective action to care for the planet, and highlighted the UN’s Sustainability Summit and UN Climate Conference as pivotal moments for leaders to address the most pressing and challenging issue of our time. 

September 9, 2015 - Transforming Our World through Sustainable Development and Climate Action

The “Transforming Our World: The United Nations, Sustainable Development and Climate Action” symposium raised awareness of the soon-to-be adopted universalSustainable Development Goals and provided insights on how to reach a climate accord by year’s end. Featured speakers included Jared Blumenfeld, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region and representatives of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, NGO and university officials. Panelists showcased the work being done to advance the sustainable development agenda in areas such as: global air quality, oceans, illegal trade in wildlife and climate change.  The event, co-hosted by UNEP, United Nations Association East Bay Chapter and UC Berkeley, brought together more than 150 policy makers, civil society representatives, the academic community and government representatives including the city of Berkeley mayor, Tom Bates. A welcome addition to the symposium was recognizing the North American winner for the 24th International Children’s Painting Competition, Gloria Yang, age 14 from Fremont, CA. To see photos from the event, click here


June 7, 2015 - “Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey” Featured on Ocean Today Kiosks on World Oceans Day 

UNEP RONA partnered with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to celebrate World Oceans Day on 8 June at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.  The event presented the UNEP “Two Minutes of Oceans” video series by the celebrated cartoonist, Jim Toomey, and highlighted a new collaboration with the NOAA Ocean Today kiosks, which has the potential to expand the reach of videos to the 23 million annual visitors to the 35 aquariums, museums and learning centers located across the United States, Mexico and Canada.  



June 5, 2015 – Jack Johnson designated as the UNEP Goodwill Ambassador on World Environment Day 

On the occasion of World Environment Day (WED), Jack Johnson, the multi-platinum recording artist, widely acclaimed for his environmental work, was appointed United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador at a ceremony on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. The designation took place at the Youth Action Island Summit which served as a kick-off for an 8-day sailing expedition to conduct and build upon the global research on plastic pollution in the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre...






May 26, 2015 - UNEP Engages Canadian Stakeholders in UN Environment Assembly and Post 2015 Agenda 

The UNEP Regional Office for North America hosted a stakeholder forum at the University of Ottawa on May 26, 2015. The session highlighted UNEP's contributions to the United Nations Post-2015 Development Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals process, as well as communicated to participants about key decisions from the first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) that included resolutions regarding air quality, chemicals with a focus on lead in paint, and illegal trade in wildlife...




May 11-14, 2015 -  U.S. National Adaptation Forum

The U.S. National Adaptation Forum took place from 11 - 14 May, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. This annual event is co-sponsored by UNEP and brings together the adaptation community to foster knowledge exchange, innovation and mutual support to move beyond adaptation awareness and planning to adaptation action.

UNEP hosted a workshop to introduce participants to the work of the UNEP-coordinated Global Adaptation Network (GAN), and discuss the steps to link the GAN to North American adaptation practice. The workshop attracted close to 50 participants who shared their experiences on adaptation networks in North America and provided input on key opportunities and constraints for the engagement of regional adaptation networks and practitioners on the GAN.  UNEP also ran a symposium which brought together stakeholders to discuss the benefits and limitations of protecting and/or restoring ecosystems to achieve climate adaptation goals. 


April 18, 2015 - UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, Don Cheadle, urges governments ­and global citizens to tackle climate change and eliminate lead in paint at Earth Day rally​

UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, Don Cheadle, UNEP Regional Director for North America, Patricia Beneke and Walker Smith from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Lead Paint Alliance’s goal to eliminate lead in paint around the world by 2020, at the Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day celebration on 18 April on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. They were joined by representatives from the World Health Organization and the paint industry.... 


April 1, 2015 - Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investments Re-energized

On 1 April 2015, the Atlantic Council hosted an event for UNEP to highlight key findings from the  Frankfurt School-UNEP Collaborating Centre ‘Global Trends in Renewable Energy 2015’ report released globally the day earlier. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNEP Executive Director, gave a keynote address, followed by a moderated discussion with the Honorable Richard Morningstar, Founding Director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center.....



March 3, 2015 - World Wildlife Day

To commemorate 2nd annual World Wildlife Day 2015 on 3 March, UNEP in partnership with UNDP, CITES, UNODC and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) organized a high level speaker event at the WCS Central Park Zoo in New York.  The panel discussion on “Links between Illegal Wildlife Trade, Crime, and Sustainable Development” was moderated by Dan Harris, Nightline Anchor at ABC News.....



February 4, 2015 - Leading Scientists and Policymakers Gather to Chart Path for Energy Efficient Future

A symposium on the UN Sustainable Energy for all (SE4ALL) Initiative, held at the 15th Annual National Conference and Global Forum on Science, Policy and the Environment, attracted around 1,200 scientists, policymakers, and business leaders to identify science-based strategies and recommendations to inform sustainable energy policy and decision-making.....



January 21-22, 2015 - 2015 Food Tank Summit

The first event of its kind in North America, the inaugural Annual Food Tank Summit was held in Washington, D.C. in partnership with The George Washington University. The two-day conference featured more than 75 different speakers from the food and agriculture field and was featured online via Livestream, with more than 15,000 viewers globally. Researchers, farmers, chefs, policy makers, government officials, and students presented on topical issues including; food waste, urban agriculture, farm workers, the business of food, agriculture research and policy, and more...