People and Nature – Solutions to Accelerating Progress Towards the 2030 Agenda and Averting Planetary Catastrophe

Co-organised by Costa-Rica, the Delegation of the European Union with YouNGO, UNEP, WWF and UNDP, delegations and civil organizations convened to discuss solutions that can accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs by 2030. The meeting specifically called for collaborative climate action, where the balance between nature and humans can then be restored and sustained.

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Understanding the Nexus and Implications for People on the Move

This meeting aimed to highlight the linkages between migration, climate, and declining ocean health, and to show the international, regional, national, and local impacts of marine overexploitation. At the nexus of climate change and detriment to ocean health discussed in this meeting also lies fights to eradicate poverty, improve food security and quality of life, the increasing severity of natural disasters, and climate change’s impact on migration.

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Mr. Ashraf El Nour opened this meeting by outlining how climate change-related ecological modifications to the ocean have direct consequences on the economy, environment, and quality of life for island and coastal populations, particularly in Small Island Developing States.

Data collected by the International Displacement Center suggests that since 2008, around 22.5 million people are displaced annually as a result of natural disasters of climate change ramifications; most of these individuals come from coastal areas and small island states. Millions of people are still at risk for future displacement, but contemporary initiatives have begun looking towards indigenous populations architectural and agriculture traditions for their flexibility and harmonious congruence with the environment.

The ocean is a transit platform for irregular migration and contributes to migrants missing at sea, border problems, humanitarian problems, and international insecurity. The panelists called for an innovative approach to migration and reconfiguring how we conceptualize refugees so that we might include those who are forced to relocate because of climate-related circumstances.

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Meeting: Ocean Health, Climate Change and Migration: Understanding the Nexus and Implications for People on the Move

Date/Location: Monday, June 5, 2017; 13:15-14:30; Conference Room A, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY

Speakers: Mr. Ashraf El Nour, Director, IOM Office to the United Nations; Mr. Jean Edmond Randrianantenaina, Director General of the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Center, Madagascar; Ms. Francoise Gail, Scientific Advisor, Ocean and Climate Platform; Mr. John Tanzer, Leader WWF Global Ocean Practice; Ms. Mariam Traore Chazalnoel, Thematic Specialist, Migration, Environment and Climate Change, IOM; Hosted by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Madagascar in New York; Lead Organizer: International Organization of Migration (IOM) with Partner: WWF

Written By: WIT Representative Mariel Brunman

Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability

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Today an event was held which highlighted how environmental sustainability is an integral part in humanitarian aid effectiveness. The panelists in this meeting discussed the findings from a report entitled “Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability.”

The first speaker, Ms. Gebremedhin, the Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland, began by addressing various environmental issues that need to be taken into account during humanitarian action, in order for it to reach its full potential. For example, management of solid wastes and hazardous materials and safeguarding natural resources are essential, and the reduction of deforestation, desertification, and pollution is necessary for sustained livelihoods in the aftermath of a disaster. Furthermore, efficient leadership and accountability are needed in humanitarian situations, and addressing environmental concerns is a shared responsibility between donors and humanitarian organisations.

Following, Mr. Khalikov, Director of OCHA Geneva, stated the effectiveness of humanitarian aid is dependent on environmental conditions. He cited floods and draughts as main environmental threats that can complicate an already existing humanitarian crisis, like a famine or armed conflict.

Ms. Anita van Breda from WWF USA spoke about combining climate change adaptation strategies with disaster risk reduction. She highlighted the Green Recovery Program – a partnership between WWF and the American Red Cross –, which works to sustain livelihoods, provide adequate water, sanitation, and shelter, and deals with disaster management. Her three key recommendations to take the environment into consideration when taking humanitarian action included: updating academic training and professional development, learning to manage change and developing new ways of learning, and ensuring that staff and volunteers have the necessary discipline, skills, and aptitude.

Concluding the meeting Ms. Costa, the Executive Director of the Women’s Refugee Commission spoke about the threat faced by women and girls when they have to leave their refugee camps to collect firewood for cooking and heating. Many have to travel 5 or 6 hours a day to collect enough wood to cook just one meal, and on the journey are raped, beaten, or killed. Ms. Costa emphasised the importance of shifting communities away from dependence on wood fuel and towards more environmentally friendly and sustainable options in order to decrease the threat of this gender based violence and to reduce deforestation and resource overconsumption.

Meeting Title: Environment and Humanitarian Action: Increasing Effectiveness, Sustainability, and Accountability
Speakers: Ms. Anna Gebremedhin, Director of Humanitarian Assistance and Foreign Affairs of Finland; Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Geneva; MS. Anita van Breda, Director of Humanitarian Partnerships, WWF USA; Ms. Sarah Costa, Executive Director of Women’s Refugee Commission
Location: Conference Room 5 NLB, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 23 June 2014
Written by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan
Edited by WIT Representative: Sophia Griffiths-Mark 

Together we’ve got the Power

Why SE4ALL Needs Civil Society

The first annual Sustainable Energy for All Forum was held at the headquarters of United Nations, New York. This session, moderated by Mr. Bros, the director of the Global Business & Biodiversity Programme of IUCN, reiterated the needs for civil society in charting the way forward to reach goals and targets on renewables and energy efficiency.

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The first speaker, Ms. Leopold, discussed capacity building, access to information were challenges faced during the mobilization of actions by Civil Society Organization (CSO). Clear commitment and transparent guidelines agreed among governments, United Nations, multilateral development banks to CSO participation, capacity building of CSO through inclusive participation and access to timely and meaningful information were three key pointers she raised to achieve a more meaningful participation by civil society.

Mr. Riley from WWF pointed out that there was a lack of social structure to promote civil society engagement, which impeded goals and energy policies from achieving. Right now, CSO had started to puttogether platforms in engaging all stakeholders by means of toolkits and roadmaps, so that messages can be shared and negotiated.

Ms. Zuniga carried on by saying that civil society was the voice representing local population, and it had the power to bring their own learning and experiences into discussion. Ms. Edjekumhene, executive director of KITE, cited an example of Guana being the first country to develop a CSO engagement action plan to identify energy use objectives.

The last speaker, Ms. Allam, believed sustainability was all about providing an enabling environment, but prior to that, required poverty reduction, energy and resources management. She emphasised that people need to change their norms to eradicate poverty and create a zero-carbon environment. Lastly, she envisioned a sustainable world where different genders, ethnic groups and marginalised communities can have affordable and reliable access for energy.

Meeting Title: Together we’ve got the power: why SE4ALL needs civil society
Speakers: Mr. Gerard Bros, Director, Global Business & Biodiversity Programme, ICUN; Mr. Aaron Leopold, Global Energy Advocate for Practical Action, Mr. Dan Riley, Lead Specialist Renewable Energy Policy of WWF US; Ms. Mariam Mohamed Adballah Abdelhafiz Allam, Arab Youth Climate Movement/IndyACT; Ms. Lizeth Zuniga, Director of Renewables Association; Ms Ishmael Edjekumhene, Executive Director of KITE
Location:
United Nations HQ, Trusteeship Council
Date: 5 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau