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Featured here are selected updates showing examples of how the United Nations Environment Programme works to facilitate the rapid sharing of best practices, new ideas, technology and environmental innovations that will drive sustainable development and promote COVID-19 economic recovery plans that take nature and the climate emergency into account.
The latest COVID-19 related stories, reports, factsheets and publications from UNEP can be found here.
UN chief urges decarbonizing of the global economy in COVID-19 recovery plans
What:: Explore actionable and cost-effective pathways to CO2 emissions reduction. Understand the role of higher education as a leader in decarbonization. Discuss the engagement in Race To Zero in the lead-up to COP-26
With the UN Secretary General's Covid-19 response emphasizing the need to develop national recovery plans which include climate-positive actions such as decarbonizing all expects of our economies, and with young people around the world calling for a repurposing of the education system, this conversation couldn't be more timely.
Both Countdown and Race To Zero are global campaigns to rally leadership and support from governments, businesses, and other institutions for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.
Last updated at 2.04pm EAT
10 countries kickstarting their pandemic recovery plans by repairing nature
They are using restoration as an engine of employment, especially in rural areas where jobs are badly needed. That strategy not only has the potential to kickstart economic growth, it’s also key in the fight againstclimate change and biodiversity loss. Reviving nature is at the core of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a global push to repair lands lost to development that is set to begin in 2021.
Historic UN Summit on Biodiversity sets stage for a global movement toward a green recovery from COVID-19
As countries put plans in place to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, convened by the President of the General Assembly on 30 September 2020, calls attention for the need to work towards a new normal, where all people can live in harmony with nature. Heads of State and Government will attend under the theme of “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of the relationship between people and nature. We are reminded that when we destroy and degrade biodiversity, we undermine the web of life and increase the risk of disease spillover from wildlife to people. Responses to the pandemic provide a unique opportunity for transformative change as a global community. An investment in the health of our planet is an investment in our own future.
Inger Andersen: Pandemic is part of the “triple planetary crisis" but inclusive multilateralism and immediate action can solve this
"The pandemic is part of what we at UNEP call the “triple planetary crisis” of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution," said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, today in her speech delivered to the Ministerial Roundtable on the margins of the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly.
She noted the importance of inclusive multilateralism, and how if we start now, we can secure healthy biodiversity for generations to come.
She notes how reinvigorated multilateralism is a vital tool for ensuring that national efforts join up to fix these global problems. Also in recovering better from the pandemic can invest in actions to mitigate, and eventually halt, the triple crisis.
The event was organized by the Earth Institute of Columbia University in cooperation with the Global Masters for Development Practice andthe UN Sustainable Development Network.
What: A global e-learning series that addresses the key policy issues central to the green recovery debate.
Where: Available here. The six online courses are free, self-paced, and can act as an invaluable building block as countries plan their economic responses to COVID-19—serving to inform and shape the public policy debate around green economic reform.
Why: Over the next 18 months, it is estimated that economic investment into national recovery packages will reach up to US$ 20 trillion. The make-up of these financial decisions will define the shape of our societies, our economies, and our environment for decades to come. This is where the “Learning for a Green Recovery” campaign has been developed.
Covid features in global megatrends report: Shaping the Trends of Our Time
Chief economists from the UN System came together to examine five human-made megatrends which continue to dominate and frustrate global efforts to put the world on a more sustainable and prosperous path. They published their findings in a report entitled Shaping the Trends of Our Time.
The report details how climate change; demographic shifts, especially population ageing; urbanization; digital technologies; and inequalities are affecting economic, social and environmental outcomes.
In this interview with Pushpam Kumar, Chief Environmental Economist for UNEP, he notes, "The causes of this pandemic relate to biodiversity and climate, so the solution must factor these in to build back better."
Last updated at 2.15pm EAT
Rebuilding better: South Africa's green and inclusive industrial policies
Inger Anderson: Nature and environmental stewardship must be at the heart of COVID-19 recovery
In her address to the 151st meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, the Executive Director of UNEP Inger Anderson gave an update on crucial work UNEP has been doing since the beginning of the year.
She also noted how, "this is a “make or break moment for the planet”. As we seek to reboot the global economy, how we prioritize and direct our resources can either secure human, economic and environmental health for generations to come, or take us down the grey path that has brought with it the suffering we are seeing today."
United in Science 2020 report says Climate Change has not stopped for COVID-19
In the United in Science 2020 report, leading science organizations warn that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at record levels and continue to increase. This is despite a temporary decline caused by the COVID19 lockdown in the first half of the year.
The report is coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with contributions from the Global Carbon Project, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the UN Environment Programme and the UK’s Met Office.
Air pollution has been dubbed the ‘invisible killer’, responsible for a staggering 7 million deaths per year, according to the World Health Organization – more than from Malaria, Tuberculosis and AIDS combined. As we find out more about COVID-19, some scientists also suggest that people who live in polluted areas might be more susceptible to develop severe symptoms.
As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to build back sustainably, to reduce air pollution and protect the environment and our health through comprehensive cross-sectoral strategies. Read the full article by Olga Algayerova, UNECE Executive Secretary here.
When: 15 September 2020 (13.00-14.30 Central European Time). Register here.
What: This explores post-COVID lessons that we can use to design and build cities across the globe with low carbon mobility solutions. Our panel will reflect on how COVID-19 has affected mobility; what sustainability challenges and opportunities are there when building back better; contrasting African/European mobility policies; the leisure trends that have emerged from COVID times and the impacts of staying closer, staying longer and buying better.
UNEP report: Human rights, the environment and Covid-19 key messages
The COVID-19 crisis reveals a clear truth about catastrophic risk in an increasingly globalized world: an effective response requires immediate, ambitious and evidence-based preventive action at the international level.
To avert future global threats, including pandemics, we must protect rights to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment upon which we all depend for our health and well being. A human rights-based approach to the COVID-19 crisis is also needed to address its unequal impacts on the poor, vulnerable and marginalized and its underlying drivers, including environmental degradation.
This UNEP report contains key messages on human rights, the environment and COVID-19. It highlights the essential human rights obligations and responsibilities of States and others, including businesses, in addressing and responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Last updated at 3.15pm EAT
New UNEP report: Waste Management during the COVID-19 Pandemic: from response to recovery
This report reviews current practices for managing waste from healthcare facilities, households and quarantine locations accommodating people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Jointly produced by UNEP, the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies and the International Environmental Technology Centre, the report considers various approaches, identifies best practices and technologies, and provides recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners to improve waste management, over the long term.
New World Economic Forum report: The Future of Nature and Business
The global pandemic has caused unprecedented job losses and continued economic uncertainty. As governments and businesses look to stimulate growth and create jobs, a new report from the World Economic Forum and AlphaBeta suggests that a nature-first approach can do both. The Future of Nature and Business report finds that over $10 trillion in annual business opportunity and 395 million jobs can be generated by 2030 in a new nature economy. The report identifies how 15 transitions in three socio-economic systems can form the blueprint of action for nature-positive pathways to halting nature loss by 2030.
Tips on sustainable consumption during the coronavirus lockdown
UNEP´s regional office in Latin America and the Caribbean created a brief guideline in Spanish with tips on sustainable consumption during the coronavirus lockdown. This region is currently a COVID-19 hotspot so for those who are able to comply with the stay-at-home orders, there are some simple actions related to sustainable lifestyles. The guideline includes recommendations from UNEP and other UN agencies, and includes topics such as nutrition, waste management, sustainable use of energy and water and wellness. The guide was developed by UNEP´s Communication Unit in the region, with the support of the regional Resource Efficiency Unit.
La oficina regional del PNUMA en América Latina y el Caribe elaboró una breve guía en español con consejos sobre el consumo sostenible durante el confinamiento a causa de la COVID-19. Millones de ciudadanos en América Latina y el Caribe que viven en la pobreza no pueden cumplir con las órdenes de quedarse en casa, pero aquellos que pueden hacerlo, pueden optar por algunas acciones simples relacionadas con estilos de vida sostenibles. La directriz recopila recomendaciones sobre el consumo sostenible del PNUMA y diversas agencias de la ONU, e incluye temas como nutrición, gestión de residuos, uso sostenible de la energía y el agua, y el bienestar. La guía fue desarrollada por la Unidad de Comunicación del PNUMA en la región, con el apoyo de la Unidad de Eficiencia de Recursos.
Last updated at 10.59am EAT
Global Commission on Adaptation statement on the COVID-19 recovery
The Global Commission on Adaptation have released a statement on the COVID-19 recovery. 28 Commissioners and senior representatives supported it, demonstrating the spirit and power of this group. The hope that the statement will inspire decision-makers around the world to incorporate climate resilience into economic recovery plans and move us toward a more resilient future.
About the Global Commission on Adaptation: The Commission launched with the mandate to encourage the development of measures to manage the effects of climate change through technology, planning and investment. The Commission was launched with the support of 17 convening countries including China, Canada and the UK and low-lying countries vulnerable to climate change including Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands. It also included 28 Commissioners representing all sectors of the globe and all sectors of development and industry.
Last updated at 12.57pm EAT
Nursing home receives a solar water heater in Panamá
UNEP and the Ministry of Energy of Panamá donated a thermo-solar heater to a nursing home, located in the Pacora sector of Panamá City. Based on solar energy, the system will generate up to 300 liters of hot water a day for the hygiene of the center, which takes care of 60 older residents.
"In the context of the COVID-19 crisis, using resources wisely is more necessary than ever," said Gustavo Máñez, UNEP regional coordinator of Climate Change in Latin America and Caribbean. “Solar thermal energy creates instant savings and environmental improvements. It can help Panama reduce its spending on fossil fuel imports while reducing emissions that cause climate change," added Máñez.
The heater is part of the Panama Solar Thermal Project which is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and aims to develop the Panamanian market for solar water heaters and to help the country meet its climatic targets under the Paris Agreement.
Residencia de personas mayores recibe un calentador solar de agua en Panamá
El PNUMA y el Ministerio de Energía de Panamá donaron un calentador solar de agua a la residencia para personas mayores Los Años Dorados, ubicada en el sector de Pacora en la capital del país. Basado en energía solar, el sistema generará hasta 300 litros de agua caliente por día para la higiene del centro, que atiende a 60 residentes.
"En el contexto de la crisis de la COVID-19, usar los recursos de manera inteligente es más necesario que nunca", dijo Gustavo Máñez, coordinador regional del PNUMA de Cambio Climático en América Latina y el Caribe. “La energía solar térmica genera ahorros instantáneos y mejoras ambientales. Puede ayudar a Panamá a disminuir su gasto en importaciones de combustibles fósiles mientras reduce las emisiones que causan el cambio climático ", agregó Máñez.
El calentador es parte del proyecto Temosolar Panamá, financiado por el Fondo para el Medio Ambiente Mundial (GEF, por sus siglas en inglés), y tiene como objetivo desarrollar el mercado panameño de calentadores de agua solares y ayudar al país a cumplir sus objetivos climáticos bajo el Acuerdo de París.
Last updated at 11.05am EAT
#Natureinsight podcast is launched today
Join Rob and Brit as they ‘speed date’ with the future! Each week, they will introduce you to people with unique insights into the values of nature and our relationship with it. Subscribe now to learn how to make better choices about protecting all life on earth.
Speed dating is about having a short time to communicate things that could change your life. That’s exactly what they’re doing on this podcast, by introducing you to people with unique insight into our relationship with nature.
Produced by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) #natureinsight, features incredible individuals whose experience can help us see solutions for the future.
The Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP)—Barcelona Convention Secretariat has articulated a strategic response to the COVID-19. This identifies the main issues and priorities of relevance to the mandate of UNEP/MAP. It lays out the MAP perspective on how to respond to the crisis in the Mediterranean region. It constitutes a blueprint upon which an action plan is being devised by the entire UNEP/MAP system.
Last updated at 11.03am EAT
UNEP and ILRI report on preventing zoonotic diseases launched
6 July 2020 - A scientific assessment from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) finds that unless countries take dramatic steps to curb zoonotic contagions, global outbreaks like COVID-19 will become more common.
More info: The pandemic has affected the activities of scientific institutions and government agencies worldwide, leading to a reduced productivity in some programs and gaps in long-term climate data. It is now essential to focus on leveraging scientific support and knowledge-sharing for a sustainable recovery.
Lockdown and related measures implemented by countries to limit the spread of COVID-19 have led to a decrease in economic activities and a drop in road transport, temporarily cleaning skies and decreasing levels of certain air pollutants. However, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere and oceans for centuries. The scientific community reminds us continuously that the world needs to be committed to continued efforts in climate change regardless of any temporary decrease in emissions due to the pandemic. Researchers have also found that air pollution might have intensified the pandemic.
Last updated at 10.56am EAT
World Environment Situation Room COVID-19 section
The World Environment Situation Room (WESR) has added a COVID-19 section to its monitoring platform.
WESR is global and uses Big Data including geo-referenced, remote-sensing and earth observation information integrated with statistics and data on the environmental dimension of sustainable development.
WESR targets country policy makers, top environmental policy makers, the environmental scientific community, business and interested citizens. The platform is essential as a knowledge instrument to support progress on delivering the environmental dimension of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
Last updated at 10.54am EAT
UNEP's post-COVID19 policy briefs on Latin America and the Caribbean
La Oficina Regional del PNUMA en América Latina y el Caribe ha elaborado una serie de resúmenes de política titulada Articulando la política social y ambiental para la recuperación pos-COVID-19, la cual ofrece recomendaciones para reconstruir de manera sostenible en la región tras la pandemia, sin dejar a nadie atrás.
Los resúmenes de política se enfocan las siguientes áreas:
The African Elephant Fund call for COVID 19 Project Proposals:
The African Elephant Fund (AEF) Secretariat just launched the tenth round of call for project proposals with a deadline of 06 July 2020, midnight East Africa Time. The purpose of this call is to allow African elephant range States to seek emergency funding to address elephant conservation challenges related to COVID 19 for the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan.
The project proposal templates for use are available here.
Le Secrétariat du Fonds pour l'éléphant d'Afrique (FEA) vient de lancer le neuvième cycle d'appel à propositions de projets avec une date limite du 6 juillet 2020 à minuit, heure de l'Afrique de l'Est. Le but de cet appel est de permettre aux États de l'aire de répartition de l'éléphant d'Afrique d’accéder à un financement d'urgence pour relever les défis de la conservation des éléphants liés au COVID 19 et pour la mise en œuvre du plan d'action pour l'éléphant d'Afrique.
Les canevas de projets à utiliser sont disponibles ici.
The Data Observatory tracks socio-economic and health impacts from COVID-19
As part of an ongoing effort to support Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Partner Countries, The Data Observatory was developed to track socio-economic and health impacts from COVID-19, track policy responses and assess potential focus areas for green recovery in PAGE Countries. This collection of data aims ultimately to inform our partners and beyond as well as support decision-making that can lead to long-term, sustainable recovery in a post-COVID-19 world.
“The policy and investments decisions taken today will mitigate or amplify future risks to humanity and our economies. An inclusive and green economic recovery requires collective, coherent and decisive action through broader networks of partnerships such as the Partners for Inclusive Green Economy.” - Asad Naqvi, Head, UN PAGE Secretariat.
Last updated at 10.51am EAT
Montréal Mayor calls on local government leaders to take action on nature
Valérie Plante, the Mayor of the City of Montréal and the ICLEI Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity, released a letter for cities to reflect on their relationship with nature ahead of the International Day of Biodiversity and World Environment Day (WED). Montréal is the North American WED host city.
The letter is a call to action for mayors and leaders of local and sub-national governments to make commitments to protect nature, especially in post-COVID-19 recovery plans. About 2,000 Mayors and local community leaders received it.
“As mayors and leaders of local and subnational governments, we have a unique opportunity and an important responsibility to protect our biodiversity and ecosystems in ways that will restore humanity’s relationship with nature, especially as we develop our post-COVID-19 recovery plans. Together, let’s take strong action to create healthy, vibrant cities, where people and nature can thrive.” ~ Mayor Valérie Plante of the City of Montréal & ICLEI’s Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity
The letter is available in English, French and Spanish. More info
Last updated at 10.34am EAT
New Green Fins guidelines on how to deal with chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way
The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme's Green Fins initiative – has launched new guidelines to help dive and snorkel operators who are continuing to keep an environmental strategy high on their agenda despite the many changes taking place for travel businesses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
Reef-World has launched the Green Fins Guidelines for Environmental Best Practice for Chemical Cleaning Agents to help dive and snorkel operators deal with chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way. The Green Fins guidance – which should be used in addition to, not instead of, health and safety recommendations from DAN and the WHO on preventing viral spread – explains how on how to deal with any hazardous waste that may pose a significant threat to the marine environment.
The guidelines are available free of charge for Green Fins members and non-members alike. They can be downloaded here.
Three more bicycle highways being built in in Beijing
Daily commuting in bicyle lanes in Beijing used to be a fairly risky undertaking with shared-bikes, scooters and pedestrians whizzing by during rush hours. To encourage green travel and to make it safer, Beijing municipal government built the first “bicycle highway” in the city in 2019. This 6.5km “bike only” highway runs to the north of city, with three lanes, including a reversible lane, on the 6-meter-wide road.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the municipal government in Beijing announced another three bicycle highways will be completed in 2020. These will be to the east, west and south of the city, adding over 25km of segregated bicycle-only routes. Related traffic regulations will be made to make sure the new bicycle highways adapt safely into the city’s traffic.
To further encourage de-carbonized transport, Beijing announced that until the end of May, 2020, people can ride shared-bikes for free for the first half hour during the rush hours.
You can read more about bicycle highways in Beijing here:
Last updated at 10.29am EAT
To celebrate International Biological Diversity Day you are invited to the Solving Crisis webinar
To celebrate International Biological Diversity Day you are invited to a webinar titled: Solving Crisis: Ecosystem-based Solutions to Biodiversity Loss and Links to COVID 19 Pandemic. This seeks to highlight how to build back better through natural solutions.
Apart from effects on human health, COVID-19 has hit at a time where nature-based solutions were on the rise. 2020 was meant to be a year to ramp up our decade of action on ecosystem and biodiversity efforts. While we wait to flatten the curve, we still have to steer through biodiversity and the environmental consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity
David Nabarro, WHO Special Envoy on COVID19
Sagar Aryal, CTO Plant-for-the-Planet App
When: 22 May 2020 at 11:30 AM in Eastern Time (USA and Canada) and 15:30 (in UTC) via Zoom - Register here
UNEP FI: Property sector perspectives on ESG, COVID 19, and managing crises
The socioeconomic impacts from COVID-19 restrictions have affected all segments of the real estate sector in some form.
For property investors and lenders, the economic picture is also troubling.
The recent UNEP FI Property Working Group (PWG) forums affirm that the response to COVID-19 and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration are inseparable, and offered views on trends that will shape sustainable practices as institutions move forward into an altered risk and value-creation landscape. For more details, please download the bulletin,
Last updated at 1.47am EAT
1,000 UNEP handwashing stations in Haiti
UNEP has produced and is installing 1,000 handwashing stations in Haiti. This will help communities access and maintain good hand hygiene, key to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The portable handwashing items are made from repurposed cooking oil buckets fitted with plastic taps and plumbing tubes. They will be distributed to communities in Port Salut, Saint Jean du Sud and La Cahouane. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, ranking 163 out of 189 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index.
This UNEP initiative is supported by the Directorate of Civil Protection at the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the NGO Pêche Artisanale et Développement Intégré.
Last updated at 10.26am EAT
The Basel Convention: COVID19 Factsheet on environmentally sound management of medical waste
Download the Basel Convention’s guidance document on how to manage medical waste in the most sustainable mannerhere.
Last updated at 10.59am EAT
Earth School is in session!
In April 2020 over 1.5 billion children were unable to go to school. Over fifty environmental and education experts, with the guidance and support of TED-Ed and UNEP, collaborated to launch #EarthSchool on 22 April.
EarthSchool shows off the wonder and mystery of our planet to children through a 30 day immersive environmental adventure.
What can we learn from termites about air conditioning? How can we partner with wolves to prevent soil erosion? This interactive adventure will leave you marveling at our planet and ready to take on the future.
Solar water heater for Panama City's Covid hospital
UNEP representatives and Panamanian authorities on April 18, 2020, attended the donation ceremony of a thermo-solar heater to a new COVID-19 hospital in Panama City. Photo: Presidency of Panama.
UNEP and the Energy Secretariat of Panama donated a thermo-solar heater to a hospital being built in Panama to treat COVID-19 patients.
Based on solar energy, the system will be able to generate up to 1,200 liters of hot water a day for the hygiene of the health center. The hospital is being built in the Albrook area of Panama City and will have a capacity for 100 patients, and 24 health sector professionals. The facilities include five showers and sinks for the hygiene of health personnel and for the disinfection of ambulances and the morgue.
Being a 100% renewable technology, the heater will help avoid new carbon emissions and maintain air quality in this sector of the city. The heater is part of the Panama Solar Thermal Project by UNEP and the Secretariat of Energy of Panama. The project, funded by the GEF, aims to develop the Panamanian market for solar water heaters and to benefit, among others, the public health sector.
The 100% renewable solar heater system generates up to 1,200 liters of hot water per day. Photo: UNEP.
Last updated at 11.06am EAT
The Last Defense a short video about a medical waste worker in Beijing
The Last Defense a short video about a medical waste worker in Beijing. This short video by Youthtalks Studio in China, shows Wang Ning, a medical waste worker, as he and his team work on the front lines disposing of COVID-19 medical waste. This video shows the challenges he and his colleagues face in carrying out their crucial and risky job. The original video can be seen online here.
In response to COVID-19, hospitals, healthcare facilities and individuals are producing more waste than usual, including masks, gloves, gowns and other protective equipment that could be infected with the virus. There is also a large increase in the amount of single use plastics being produced.
Wherever possible, countries should control COVID-19 waste through maximizing the use of available waste management solutions and, at the same time, look to avoid any potential long-term impacts on the environment. UNEP is working in collaboration with Governments, WHO, UNDP, the GEF and NGOs to mitigate the adverse impacts on global environment from the increase of waste produced in response to the crisis, through controlling releases of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, land and water.
BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response
Geneva, 20 March 2020 - Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions press release on the need to prioritise waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak. With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to spread and its impacts upon human health and the economy intensifying day-by-day, governments are urged to treat waste management, including of medical, household and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and essential public service in order to minimise possible secondary impacts upon health and the environment.