On 2 December, the North America Office convened a stakeholder consultation, “Global Environment Outlook and Pathways to Sustainability,” at the University of Ottawa. The event featured expert panelists who discussed key findings and policy recommendations from the UN Environment’s Global Environment Outlook North American Regional Assessment. It also served to share the latest progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and information about the third UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) to be held in Nairobi, Kenya in December 2017.
Over 60 participants from civil society and government participated in the event. The consultation featured the election of Christian Ledwell of the International Institute for Sustainable Development as one of the two North American Major Groups and Stakeholders Representative. A U.S. Representative will be elected at a consultation to be held in Washington, D.C. on February 9, 2017.
Ambassador Marie Jacobsson is the UN International Law Commission’s Special Rapporteur for the topic Protection of the Environment in Relation to Armed Conflict. In the fourth Al-Moumin lecture on 3 November, Ambassador Jacobsson reflected on a suite of laws and norms protecting the environment in relation to armed conflict. The recent practice of States and international organizations to prevent environmental harm before armed conflict and to rebuild war-torn environments after an armed conflict stands in stark contrast to States’ unwillingness to commit themselves to further legally binding rules applicable during armed conflict.
At the event in Washington, D.C., the Ambassador was recognized with the prestigious Al-Moumin Award for her outstanding contributions to environmental peacebuilding.
The Al-Moumin Award and Distinguished Lecture of Environmental Peacebuilding recognize leading thinkers who are shaping the field of environmental peacebuilding. It is named in honor of Dr. Mishkat Al-Moumin, Iraq’s first Minister of Environment, a human rights and environment lawyer. More
On the occasion of the inaugural visit of the UNEP Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, to North America, UNEP and the African Union Mission organized a special briefing for embassy personnel, civil society and the public on August 9th.
The event was opened with remarks by H.E. Ambassador Michael Moussa-Adamo of Gabon. Dr. Koudenoukpo’s presented on issues pertinent to Africa that included UNEP’s work on the illegal trade in wildlife, environment and health, the African Renewable Initiative, oceans, and youth engagement. She also highlighted the importance and value of the natural capital of the African continent. The UNEP Director for North America, Patricia Beneke, presided over an open dialogue on key opportunities to elevate sustainable development in Africa.
The briefing was attended by more than 100 guests, half of which were from the diplomatic corps, including Ambassadors representing Cabo Verde, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritania, Somalia, the Bahamas, and Uganda.
UNEP, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, hosted the North American launch of the Global Environment Outlook: Regional Assessment for North America at and the Wilson Center, in Washington, D.C. on July 21st.
The multi-panel discussion included lead authors from the report and policymakers, who outlined key findings, challenges, and proposed policy responses arising from the assessment. In addition to the esteemed authors, the speakers included high level representatives from the U.S. Department of State, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The discussions were moderated by the UN Foundation and the Wilson Center.
The North American Assessment is one of the six recently released reports containing detailed examinations of the environmental issues affecting each of the world's regions: North America, the Pan-European region, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa. Together, these comprehensive assessments will provide the foundation for the sixth iteration of UNEP’s flagship assessment, the Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6), currently under production.
Full summary and recording of the event is available here.
Get Wild for Wildlife on World Environment Day
Since 1974, World Environment Day (WED), celebrated annually on June 5th , is the United Nations’ flagship day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. The theme for WED 2016 was the illegal trade in wildlife, to bring attention to the accelerating rate at which we are losing the world’s most precious species.
To commemorate World Environment Day, the UNEP Regional Office for North America convened a high-level intergovernmental event to bring together those involved in wildlife management to discuss solutions and successes to reduce the impact of the illegal trade in endangered species that are rapidly disappearing from our planet. The event featured the Head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Director of Wildlife Enforcement from Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as the U.S. Assistant Attorney General the Ambassador of Peru to the US. The ceremony was attended by ambassadors and representatives for the diplomatic corps, intergovernmental organizations and government agencies.
At the event UNEP launched Wild For Life digital campaign, which draws on support from celebrities to mobilize millions to take action against poaching and the trafficking of illegal wildlife products. UNEP and Georgetown University Law Center also announced a new Fellowship for environmental lawyers from developing countries to earn a Masters of Law Degree in Environmental Law and strengthen the environmental capacity of lawyers globally.
On Sunday, June 5th, UNEP held a public outreach event at the Central Park Zoo in New York City, which attracts over 10,000 visitors daily, to raise awareness about the illegal trade in wildlife and the newly launched Wild for Life Campaign. Visitors to the zoo were encouraged to take an interactive online quiz and morph into their “kindred species.”
“Feeding the 5000” takes on DC and NY
UNEP and other partners, in cooperation with Feedback the environmental organization dedicated to ending food waste at every level, hosted “Feeding the 5000” events in New York and Washington, DC in May. Both events attracted close to 20,000 people who were served free meals, sourced entirely from fresh top-quality ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted. The celebratory events included displays and live demonstrations from an impressive array of top chefs including Chef José Andrés and Blue Hill’s Dan Barber. It also featured remarks from high level officials including UNEP’s Elliott Harris in New York City, and and Patricia Beneke, Washington, D.C.
The Climate Action 2016 Summit convened more than 600 global leaders from 5-6 May in Washington, DC. The Summit showcased cross-cutting and innovative strategies being undertaken to make the recently adopted Paris Agreement a success. The Summit featured Dr. Oyun Sanjaasuren, the former President of the UN Environment Assembly; Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Michael Bloomberg, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change; and Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, among other dignitaries.
Dr. Sanjaasuren provided closing remarks on a panel regarding climate resilience and engaged in a media briefing in conversation with the UNEP Regional Director for North America, Patricia Beneke. She was also interviewed by the World Bank's Connect4Climate, the Global Environment Facility, and People's Haus on youth which was streamed live on Facebook.
The much anticipated IMAX documentary film, “A Beautiful Planet” premiered in partnership with UNEP in New York City in April, on the same day as the ratification of the Paris Agreement and a week later, on Earth Day at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
Narrated by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence and with footage collected from astronauts on board the International Space Station, the film provides a unique perspective on the impact of human activity on the planet. At the New York premier, Ms. Lawrence joined IMAX CEO, Rich Gelfond, who announced IMAX’s commitment to the new partnership with UNEP. In D.C., UNEP Regional Director, Patricia Beneke, the film’s Director, Toni Myers, and astronauts from the Space Station, addressed a crowd of hundreds and cited the ability of such films to reach millions with the important challenges that need to be addressed with regard to critical global issues, such as climate change.
27 January 2016 - Building support for the global goals and climate action in North America
Despite the “historic” blizzard that hit Washington, policy makers, government, civil society and the private sector attended the “The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Pathways Post-Paris.” The event, which was convened by UNEP RONA and the George Washington University Sustainability Collaborative on 27 January, highlighted the monumental achievements of 2015, namely the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement.
Christy Goldfuss, Head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, opened the session and showcased the US leadership and their successful progress towards meeting the country’s climate goals. The event highlighted the SDGs in action in the region including those focusing on urban sustainability and sustainable consumption and production (Goals 11 and 12) and climate change (Goal 13).
15 January 2016 - Green Finance and the G20—The Quiet Revolution
Jointly hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for Peace and UNEP, the event featured the launch of the UNEP Inquiry's global report, “The Financial System We Need”. Followed by a discussion, where panelists explored how policy is being used to align the financial system with sustainable development and the scope for further leadership from the United States in the year ahead.