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March 26, 2021

Game-changing solutions in light of the UN Food Systems Summit: multi-stakeholder mechanisms

Consensus has been built around the idea that the world must adopt a ‘food systems approach’ to food policies to re-think food systems governance. Food systems issues and solutions, however, are context-specific, and the complexity of these interconnected issues can deter action.

A new research initiative by the Sustainable Food Systems Programme members is exploring how food systems multi-stakeholder mechanisms, at both the national and sub-national level, can contribute to transitioning to sustainable food systems and act as a catalyser for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Learn more at One Planet Network News Center

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category : Topics

March 24, 2021

Turning science into action: new report on the Value-Chain Approach

The One Planet network and International Resource Panel Task Group presented findings from its report on the Value-Chain Approach as a catalyser for science-based policy action on Sustainable Consumption and Production at a UNEA-5 digital side-event.

This report, the product of an 18-month collaboration, explains the ‘Value-Chain Approach’ methodology, highlights strategic intervention points on how to improve natural resource management and shares findings from its application to three critical sectors: food, construction and textiles.

Learn more at: One Planet network website

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category : Topics

March 11, 2021

[SCP] WEF, Partners Launch Initiative to Improve Trade Rules for SCP

IISD, 15 February 2021-A virtual panel session on ‘Greening Trade,’ which convened as part of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Davos Agenda, explored the role of trade in delivering a greener, fairer global economy. The WEF and partners launched ‘Climate Trade Zero’ – an initiative to improve trade rules for climate-friendly production and consumption.

Haslinda Amin, Chief International Correspondent, South-East Asia, Bloomberg News, moderated the session. She said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls on all countries to use trade to create a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive world, and while international trade accounts for about 25% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the links between trade and climate change have been “underexplored.”

Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness of France, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, highlighted the role of trade in bringing many people out of poverty and delivering jobs and indispensable goods around the globe. Stressing the need for more ambitious standards to ensure consistency between trade and sustainable development, he outlined the EU’s efforts to address carbon leakage through the proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism(CBAM). Riester said trade agreements can push trading partners to do better on sustainable development, biodiversity, deforestation, and climate change.

Jeroen Ouwehand, Global Senior Partner, Clifford Chance, described trade as “a driver of environmental and sustainable productivity and efficiency,” and said the move to net zero must be supported by trade policies. He identified four areas where governments can “bring together” the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Paris Agreement on climate change:

• Elimination of tariffs on environmentally beneficial goods and services;
• Removal of non-tariff barriers to trade in environmentally friendly goods;
• Removal of fossil fuel subsidies; and
• Carbon border adjustments.

Noting that trade is fundamental to “thinking of carbon footprint in a holistic way,” Anna Krutikov, Head, Sustainable Development, Glencore International AG, said any transition strategy must take into account the full spectrum of operational portfolio and commodity impacts. She identified regulations anchored in thinking of scrap as a hazard as a barrier to safe recycling at scale, limiting the ability of the formal sector to grow and enabling proliferation of informal practices that can further marginalize the vulnerable. Krutikov cautioned against “widening the gap of inequality” through irresponsible mining practices, and highlighted the example of the Fair Cobalt Alliance, which recognizes that artisanal mining can play a legitimate role in the supply chain, seeks to improve mining conditions, and advances efforts to eradicate child labor.

On the role of trade in better supporting sustainability, Riester said trade agreements are “good tools” to ensure consistency between climate ambition and trade. He said going forward, the Paris Agreement will be an essential component of bilateral trade agreements between the EU and third countries, and called for including sustainable development provisions in multilateral trade agreements.

On fossil fuel subsidies, Ouwehand pointed to a “significant” potential of redirecting such subsidies to other initiatives in light of limited fiscal space countries operate in as they respond to COVID-19.

On carbon border adjustments, Riester highlighted the need to convince trading partners of the CBAM’s pertinence. Ouwehand acknowledged that while adjustments can lead to protectionism, they can also level the playing field and bring together the WTO and the Paris Agreement.

The ‘Climate Trade Zero’ project will analyze the obstacles businesses face in achieving their net zero commitments and climate goals, and seek to identify policy changes governments can make to lower trade costs for climate-friendly products and services. The objective is to share the views of business to help shape international commitments to be made at the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the UNFCCC to “move the needle on climate change.”

Learn more at:http://sdg.iisd.org/news/wef-partners-launch-initiative-to-improve-trade-rules-for-scp/

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category : Topics

March 5, 2021

UN Environment Assembly concludes with an urgent call for action to solve planetary emergencies

Nairobi, 23 February 2021 –Ministers of environment and other leaders from more than 150 nations today concluded a two-day online meeting of the Fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) in which the Assembly warned that the world risks new pandemics if we don’t change how we safeguard nature.

The UN Environment Assembly meets biennially to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law; decisions and resolutions then taken by Member States at the Assembly also define the work of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Due to the pandemic, Member States agreed on a two-step approach to UNEA-5: an online session (22-23 February 2021) and an in-person meeting planned for February 2022.

Attended by thousands of online participants, including more than 1,500 delegates from 153 UN Member States and over 60 Ministers of the Environment, the Assembly – which was broadcast live – also agreed on key aspects of UNEP’s work, kicked off the commemoration of UNEP’s 50th anniversary and held leadership dialogues where Member States addressed how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.

"It is increasingly evident that environmental crises are part of the journey ahead. Wildfires, hurricanes, high temperature records, unprecedented winter chills, plagues of locusts, floods and droughts, have become so common place that they do not always make the headlines," Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in remarks to the Assembly. "These increasing adverse weather and climatic occurrences sound a warning bell that calls on us to attend to the three planetary crises that threaten our collective future: the climate crisis, the biodiversity and nature crisis, and the pollution and waste crisis."

In a political statement entitled “Looking ahead to the resumed UN Environment Assembly in 2022 – Message from online UNEA-5, Nairobi 22 – 23 February 2021” endorsed at the close of the Assembly, Member States reaffirmed UNEP’s mandate as the leading global environmental authority and called for greater and more inclusive multilateralism to tackle the environmental challenges.

The statement said the Assembly of UNEA-5 wished “to strengthen our support for the United Nations and for multilateral cooperation and remain convinced that collective action is essential to successfully address global challenges.” It went on to warn that “more than ever that human health and wellbeing are dependent upon nature and the solutions it provides, and we are aware that we shall face recurring risks of future pandemics if we maintain our current unsustainable patterns in our interactions with nature.”

Sveinung Rotevatn, President of UNEA-5 and Norway's Minister for Climate and Environment, echoed the warning.

"Everyone gathered at the Environment Assembly today are deeply concerned about how the pandemic causes new and serious health, socio-economic and environmental challenges, and exacerbates existing ones, all over the world," he told a press conference on the closing day of UNEA-5.

"We shall work together to identify actions which can help us address climate change, protect biodiversity, and reduce pollution, at the same time,” he added.

The Assembly agreed to a new Medium-Term Strategy, Programme of Work and budget for UNEP. The new Strategy – which will take UNEP from 2022-2025 – sets out a vision for UNEP’s role in delivering the promises of the 2030 Agenda.

“The strategy is about transforming how UNEP operates and engages with Member States, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society and youth groups, so we can go harder, faster, stronger,” said Ms. Inger Andersen, UNEP ‘s Executive Director. “This strategy is about providing science and know-how to governments. The strategy is also about collective, whole-of-society action – moving us outside ministries of environment to drive action.”

At an event commemorating UNEP’s upcoming 50th anniversary in 2022, Ms. Andersen acknowledged the importance of the moment to reflect on the past and envision the future.

“Indeed, the strides taken so far towards safeguarding the environment are testament to UNEP’s work,” President Kenyatta noted. “UNEP has had a lasting impact on how we care for the environment, nature and our livelihoods.”

In the run-up to the Assembly, UNEP launched a major report, together with UN Secretary-General António Guterres – Making Peace with Nature – which provides a comprehensive blueprint for solving the triple planetary emergencies of climate change, biodiversity and pollution. A number of events were also held in support of UNEA-5, including a Global Youth Assembly, a Science Policy Business Forum and the launch of a Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency.

“The last few days have been encouraging. We saw a new global effort on resource-efficient, circular economies. A push on financing emission reductions from forests. Governments, scientists and businesses coming together to look at big data as a tool for change. Youth raising their voices and telling us ‘nothing about us, without us’ and calling for targeted funds to enable their deeper engagement,” Ms. Andersen added.

Learn more at UNEP News Center

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