23.06.2014

Seize opportunities of a new Urban World to ensure a life of dignity for all, says ICLEI

 

The long-awaited UN Environment Assembly should seize opportunities of a new Urban World to safeguard the survival of planet Earth and all generations of humankind

 

Welcoming the first United Nations Environment Assembly as a new player in the institutional framework for sustainable development, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability encourages government delegations and Ministers of Environment to reinvigorate bold policies and actions that will ensure responses to ecological, social and economic crisis respect planetary boundaries and engage with local and subnational governments as “governmental stakeholders” serving in urban areas that constitute more than half of world's population.

 

One of the most important outcomes of the Rio+20 Summit held in 2012 was to recognize the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the global authority on environmental issues.

 

This decision provided an opportunity for UNEP to leverage effectiveness of its policies and programmes to a universal level by engaging all of the 193 Member States of the United Nations in its decision making and implementation, through the newly established United Nations Environment Assembly that is set to convene biennially under the authority of Ministers of Environment in Nairobi, Kenya.

 

Following a 2 –years of preparation work, UNEP is convening its first United Nations Environment Assembly on 23-27 June 2014.

 

Since its establishment in 1990, ICLEI has been proud to collaborate with UNEP. On the way towards Rio+20, we supported strengthening of UNEP and we are happy to contribute in the preparation of United Nations Environment Assembly since its kick-off at the first universal UNEP Governing Council in 2013.” underlines Gino Van Begin Secretary General, UNEA as a new important as a new player in the institutional framework for sustainable development.

 

Achieving a universal mandate is definitely a significant step forward for an organization like UNEP which, in the past 40 years was recognized as being the first UN institution with its headquarters seated in the Global South, led by only a representative group of countries with its Ministerial sessions taking place only since 2000, working through a comparably limited staff and budget capacity, and challenging the globally well-established mechanisms on finance, industry, trade, energy, agriculture, peace, security, health and governance with an environmental perspective.

 

Meanwhile, the latest scientific evidence, including the Global Environmental Outlook-5, as well as 5th Assessment Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and The Economics and Ecosystems of Biodiversity, prove that in far too many areas, environmental change is accelerating and pushing the planet towards tipping points.

 

Thus, this new mission and mandate raise additional expectations from UNEP and UNEA, together with its delegations and Ministers of Environment, as the custodians of the global environment, to reinvigorate bold policies and actions that will ensure that responses to ecological, social and economic crisis respect planetary boundaries and ensure survival of current and future generations of the humankind. This is particularly essential when the global community is just about to finalise the design of the post2015 development agenda, mainly through adoption of a universal set of Sustainable Development Goals that is expected to complement Millenium Development Goals, operationalizing the High Level Political Forum, a new global climate regime that will come into effect by 2020 and the second phase of the Hyogo Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

 

One of the unique and emerging concepts in the processes related to the post 2015 development agenda is the concrete examples to engage local and subnational governments as “governmental stakeholders” in the design and the implementation of the global efforts, in response to the fact that the global sustainability in the 21st Century will be defined with the success and failure of sustainability practices in cities and urban areas which will be home to more than half of the world´s population.

 

As the closest administration to citizens, local and subnational governments are a key partner for driving global efforts sustainability and reaching any goals, pursuant to their role mode to citizens through, direct demonstration of good practices in municipal operations, enabling grants and managing public budgets, performing their legislative authorities on taxation and incentives, and exerting their political power through commitments and leadership.

 

UNEA and UNEP should benefit from recent achievements in the global processes and consider additional modalities in its new modes of work to seize the potential and ambition of local and subnational governments in order to address and solve the growing environmental challenges of the new Urban World. If cities and urban areas are not taken into account at all levels of governance and policy making including at the global level, sustainable development for this planet cannot be achieved, nor can there be sustainability for us, the people and the planet Earth.

 

The below list provides highlights of recent progress in active engagement of local and subnational governments in the global efforts, since the first universal UNEP Governing Council convened in 2013:

 

 

For further Information visit:

http://www.unep.org/unea/en/ 

 

 


 
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