2019 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.


Building on the EMG’s contribution to the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and following the request of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, the EMG Senior Officials established a Consultative Process on Biodiversity in September 2019 to prepare a UN system contribution to the preparation and implementation of the Framework. The Consultative Process will work alongside the OEWG, providing input by the UN system with a view to prepare a final report on the role of the UN system in the implementation of the Framework. The outcome of the EMG’s work will be submitted by UN heads of agencies for consideration of parties to the CBD during COP15.

Sand and Dust storms

The UN Coalition to combat sand and dust storms was established following SOM24 and officially launched during the UNCCD COP14 in New Delhi . The Coalition will provide a platform for a collaborative UN system response to the growing issue of SDS, including through strengthening preparedness measures and strategies for risk reduction, consolidated policy, innovative solutions, advocacy and capacity building efforts, and fund-raising initiatives.

Marine Litter and Microplastics

A Task Team on Marine Littering and Microplastics was initiated to provide a broad UN system-wide input to the work of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics, supporting implementation of UNEA resolution 4/6. The Task Team will prepare a mapping of UN initiatives and expertise with relevance to marine litter including plastic litter and microplastics, identifying possible gaps, areas of synergy and opportunities for further cooperation. The task team will further identify ways to improve cooperation and further explore synergies and opportunities around the work of marine litter including plastic litter and microplastics.

Electronic Waste

The E-waste Coalition grew by three members (WHO, UN Habitat and ITC) and released a report in collaboration with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, paving way for a new global circular vision for electronics. The need for this new vision for the electrics and electronics industry, was further discussed during a high-level dialogue organized by the Coalition during the 4th session of UNEA. The Coalition’s work has been promoted at several other events including the BRS COPs, the World Summit on the Information Society and the Global Dialogue Forum on Decent Work in E-waste Management.

2019 EMG Nexus Dialogues Series

Five EMG Nexus Dialogues were organized bringing UN entities, NGOs, governments, academia and the private sector together to reach a common understanding of the integrated goals and targets of the SDGs. Topics covered included: A just transition to green economy, environmental law, Environment, Peace and Security, Sustainable Infrastructure and Sustainable Food Systems. The Dialogues have been summarized in key messages, including recommendations for enhanced collaboration and coordination among partners in the respective thematic areas.

The Model Approach to Environmental and Social Standards in UN Programming

The Model Approach to Environmental and Social Standards for UN Programming was finalized and published. The Model Approach 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.

Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN System

The first Phase of the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the UN system 2020-2030, covering environmental sustainability in facilities and operations, was prepared by the EMG and SUN and approved by the CEB in May. The strategy will guide the UN system in addressing and managing risks to the natural environments in which we operate, to the health of UN staff, to the livelihoods of the people we serve and ultimately to the UN’s credibility and reputation. It also brings about opportunities to generate benefits such as efficiencies in the use of natural resources and financial efficiencies, accountability and transparency in how the UN manages the delivery of its mandates.

Created By
Irene Kariuki