2018 saw many exciting developments in UN inter-agency collaboration on the environment in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals. With heartfelt thanks to all members of the Environment Management Group for their expertise, enthusiasm and time to this collective work, the EMG Secretariat is pleased to share highlights of the past year.
"The EMG plays a crucial role in advancing the environmental agenda in the UN system. While inter-agency collaboration, coordination and resource sharing is beneficial, it rarely progresses far due to lack of time and capacity. The EMG supports the retention of momentum in key initiatives that are very important to the UN as a whole. Among these that I have been personally involved with are the harmonized approach to environmental and social safeguards and Environmental Sustainability in the UN. The value of this work to the UN and our Member States is very high, and I have no doubt that without the work of the EMG, these initiatives would have progressed much more slowly or floundered. Through the work of the EMG I have learned much from partners in other Organizations and brought our own valuable experience to the table. The processes and the end products are valuable to all of us who participated as well as many others who were not able to join the process. Ultimately, the UN operates more effectively and is seen to be operating more effectively"....FAO
Supporting the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals
"The EMG Nexus Dialogue on Greening with jobs – A just transition to sustainability, hosted by the ILO in October 2018, provided a unique opportunity to generate a common understanding among UN agencies and other partners, of the concept of just transition and effective ways to support the work of UN member States in this regard"...........ILO
The EMG Nexus Dialogues continued to explore how environmental goals and targets contribute to other goals and targets and vice versa. Three Dialogues were organized including:
1. The dialogue on the biodiversity and security nexus concluded with eight main policy messages on Nature Opportunities for Human Security for the CBD COP 14.
2. The dialogue on Greening with jobs: a just transition to Sustainability, hosted by the ILO, resulted in 10 policy messages for countries to use in policy debates, implementation and for reporting purposes shared with UNFCCC COP 24.
3. The dialogue on law for environmental sustainability contributed to the development of new proposals for the Montevideo Programme on environmental law resulted in a set of key messages and recommendations for enhanced collaboration.
Model Approach for Environmental and Social Standards for UN Programming
"The world is at a critical juncture to secure the future of biological diversity and nature itself. The EMG is a critical platform through which communications, outreach and messaging to UN and other organizations will be achieved. In this role, the EMG has already played a central role by organizing a nexus dialogue earlier this year which brought the UN community together and shone a spotlight on the importance of biodiversity to life".......... CBD
In November 2018, the EMG released a draft Model Approach to Environmental and Social Standards for UN Programming for public comment. The Model Approach, prepared by a group of 12 UN entities lead by UN Environment, is intended to serve as a reference and benchmark for UN entities to use on a voluntary basis when they adopt or revise their own social and environmental standards and safeguards. The aim of the Model Approach is to provide a first step in moving towards a common approach to environmental and social standards applied in UN projects and programmes and strengthening policy alignment in UN interventions, at country level in particular. It builds on lessons learned and the wide range of normative and operational expertise within the UN system.
Enhancing Internal UN sustainability management
With the lead and technical expertise of the UN Environment Programme and World Food Programme (WFP) the ‘Say Yes to Less’ package was prepared which includes a series of factsheets, a guidance manual and staff awareness materials on waste management. UN agencies joined in the UN Environment beats Plastic Pollution campaign resulting in 14 agencies reporting actions to reduce the use of single use plastics. A project was launched with the High-Level Committee on Management Procurement Network (HLCM PN) to facilitate tracking of Sustainable Procurement implementation. The 2018 edition of the Greening the Blue report was launched by the Sustainable UN Team, in collaboration with the EMG Secretariat. This year’s report includes greenhouse gas emissions data from 66 entities across the UN System for 2017, representing 255,740 personnel. It also includes data on waste, water and environmental management from many UN entities. The number of climate neutral entities increased from 39 to 43 representing 39% of the UN 2017 reported emissions.
Environmental Management Peer Review of UNHCR
A peer review, first of its kind, was carried out in May 2018, when four UN entities and two NGOs reviewed the environmental sustainability of UNHCR-run refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. The report, which will be available in early 2019, reviews and provides recommendations on enhancing sustainability in energy management, construction and planning, water and sanitation, and waste and resource management of the camp
Integrating environmental considerations into humanitarian action
''The Issue Management Group on Environment and Humanitarian Action pushes us to work as One UN in bridging the divide between humanitarian response, early recovery and sustainable development. I am particularly impressed by the engagement of the EMG members in the roll-out of the EHA: connect online platform which provides tailored guidance material on integrating environmental concerns in humanitarian action for a wide diversity of actors at global, national and local level''....UN Environment / OCHA Joint Unit
2018 saw the birth of a new interagency work stream which serves as a unifying platform for established UN wide collaboration processes to engage relevant organizations in the humanitarian and environment sectors in sharing expertise on the integration of environmental consideration in humanitarian action. The overall objective of the Issue Management Group on Environment and Humanitarian Action, is to identify concrete means for a facilitated, new way of working in which the environment is systematically considered in humanitarian contexts, highlighting the interlinkages among environmental, humanitarian, human rights, development and security goals. The IMG has provided input to the EHA Connect online platform and the Model Approach to Environmental and Social Standards in UN Programming to ensure it useful in humanitarian contexts as well. An interagency statement highlighting the interlinkages between climate change and humanitarian action is being prepared
Sand and Dust Storm Coalition
The EMG Senior Officials established at their 24th meeting in September a UN Coalition to combat sand and dust storms, led by UN Environment as a response to the General Assembly invitation to its Executive Director, to consider establishing an inter-agency network to be used as an inter-agency framework for medium or long-term cooperation, within their respective mandates and existing resources. The Coalition is expected to provide a common platform for technical expertise and resources for strengthening preparedness measures and strategies for risk reduction, consolidated policy, innovative solutions, advocacy and capacity building efforts, and fund-raising initiatives. So far, 17 agencies have nominated focal points to the new work stream tasked to put the Coalition in place.
Moving forward with the E-waste Coalition
''The EMG Secretariat has been instrumental in bringing together key UN organizations working in the area of electronic waste. Thanks to the EMG’s support, the issue management group on e-waste has been able to launch the Global E-waste Coalition, a new multi-stakeholder partnership that will help raise awareness, foster cooperation and coordination, build new public-private partnerships, and shape a new vision of circularity''....ITU
In March 2018, and through a Letter of Intent was signed at the World Summit on the Information Society Forum by seven UN agencies which formed a framework for coordination and collaboration on tackling e-waste. The Coalition members, coordinated by the EMG Secretariat, have agreed to collaborate on advocacy, knowledge and data management as well as country support in tacking the E-Waste. Preparing a new Vision for Electronics , a Global E-Waste Portal and an National Intervention Model are amongst the deliverables of the Coalition in the next few years.