Annual Report 2016

UN Environment Annual Report 2016 ENGAGING PEOPLE
TO PROTECT THE PLANET

Foreword by António Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General

 

Once again, the past year was the hottest ever. Sixteen of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred during this young century. This trend not only threatens the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity but poses a serious risk for peace, security and sustainable development.

 

Many conflicts are triggered, exacerbated or prolonged by competition over scarce natural resources; climate change will only make the situation worse. That is why protecting our environment is critical to the founding goals of the United Nations to prevent war and sustain peace.

 

Nations and the international community spend far more time and resources responding to crises than avoiding them. We need a new common-sense approach that emphasizes prevention. Environmental care must be at its heart.

 

By helping countries to mitigate and adapt to climate change, we can lower the risk of floods, droughts, famine and instability. By ending the illegal trade in wildlife, we can cut off a critical source of funding for organized crime and non-state armed groups. And by promoting a shift to a green economy, we can create jobs, spur inclusive economic growth and make societies more resilient. These are all critical to sustainable development and a peaceful future.

 

As the leading environmental authority, UN Environment is promoting the changes the world needs. This Annual Report profiles how the organization is working with a multitude of partners, including governments, United Nations entities, civil society, the private sector and communities on the ground. I commend it to all who are committed to working for a healthy planet and a safer, more peaceful world.

 

Scroll

UN Environment Annual Report 2016

Photo: Dhilung Kirat.

Foreword by Erik Solheim

UN Environment Executive Director

2016 Highlights by Erik Solheim, UN Environment Executive Director

If the United Nations exists on behalf of “we the peoples”, then UN Environment’s mission must be to improve those people’s lives by radically changing the way we treat this planet.

Globally, we have enough money to support this fight. In most cases, we are not short of technical solutions, many of which could create jobs and economic growth. The only raw material we lack is political will and, sometimes, public engagement.

That’s why people must always, always, be front and centre in our work to protect the planet.

We must empower people like the politicians who can create policies to cut pollution and protect our oceans and landscapes. People like the company bosses who can help us change the way the world produces and consumes. And people like the students, youth leaders and individual citizens, who can inspire important lifestyle changes in their communities.

In fact, if there is one lesson to draw from the many unexpected political developments of 2016, it’s that we need to listen to and connect directly with all of these people. We need to speak to their gut and to their heart. That means whether we’re talking to a young farmer in Kenya’s Rift Valley, a factory worker in Shanghai, a mayor in the United States, or an industrialist in Germany, we must deliver words and actions with real meaning. We must show why the environment matters to them– from the air they breathe, to the water they drink, to the way they earn a living and feed their families.

As you will see in this report, UN Environment and its partners are taking huge strides to protect our world. We are working with leaders in Malaysia to promote smart waste management and helping the people of Haiti recover from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Matthew. We are bringing political leaders together to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which could save the world from half a degree in warming. We are helping to drive the fight against the illegal trade in wildlife, which now benefits from a ban on ivory trade in China. And thanks to the “Speedo diplomacy” of our Oceans Patron, Lewis Pugh, Antarctica's Ross Sea is now a protected area.

This shows that we are already connecting with people and helping them make the transition to a greener, more sustainable world. But I know that we can – and we must – do even more.

Sometimes people ask me: can I change the world? I always tell them: Who else? Who else but you will change the world? All of humanity’s most important struggles – the anti-slavery movement, the feminist movement, the civil rights movements – they all started with a small but dedicated group of people who clung to their goals and principles in the face of fierce resistance and formidable challenges.

Change starts with you. Change starts with us. We must refuse to be daunted by the scale of the problems we face. We must take bold steps to build a better, healthier, more sustainable future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

2016 Highlights

UN Environment 2016 Highlights Annual Report 2016

Scroll
Photo: Ricky Martin for CIFOR.

 

Kigali Amendment delivers a win for the climate

In October, nearly 200 countries struck a landmark deal to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), in a move that could prevent up to 0.5°C of global warming by the end of this century. The amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which is hosted by UN Environment, is the single biggest step the world has taken to limit global warming.

 

Paris Agreement comes into force

On 4 November – less than a year after it was adopted – the Paris Agreement on Climate Change came into effect after it was ratified by 55 Parties that account for 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. This fast-track ratification is a powerful confirmation of countries’ understanding of urgency of the climate change challenge. UN Environment is working with countries around the world to help them achieve the Agreement’s ambitious goal of keeping global warming well below 2°C.

Erik Solheim Statement on Paris Agreement entry into force

Erik Solheim Statement on Paris Agreement entry into force

 

Nigeria launches Ogoniland clean-up

In June, the Government of Nigeria set in motion a $1 billion clean-up and restoration of the Ogoniland region in the Niger Delta, with UN Environment guidance. The region has been subject to a succession of oil spills over the last 50 years, with devastating effects on both the environment and public health. The restoration efforts, which are based on UN Environment recommendations, could prove to be the world’s biggest-ever environmental clean-up.

G20 embraces Green Finance


World leaders meeting at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China in September issued a communiqué recognizing the importance of scaling up green finance. They also welcomed options put forward by the G20 Green Finance Study Group, whose secretariat is hosted by UN Environment. “Green finance is vital to a green future, and we at UN Environment are proud to build on our work in this area in supporting the G20,” said UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim.

 

UN Environment earns top marks

In an extensive external review, UN Environment earned “highly satisfactory” ratings in strategic management, operational management, performance management, and relationship management. The review, which was conducted by the Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network, concluded that UN Environment “shows continued strength in terms of being a global authority on environmental issues and providing a robust evidence base for advocacy and policy dialogue.”

Compare our results from 2011 and 2016.

UN kicks off massive illegal wildlife campaign

In May, UN Environment led the launch of a global campaign, Wild for Life, to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. The campaign, which has been rolled out in eight languages, has already reached over one billion people and inspired 12,000 pledges of action. The response has been swift: China has announced a total ban on commercial ivory and several of the campaign’s key species have already been awarded greater protections. Wild for Life now stands to be UN Environment’s most successful digital campaign to date.

Wild for Life - PSA

See UN Environment's 2016 Programme Performance Overview...

Programme Performance Overview

UN Environment this year commemorates 45 years of its existence with a track record in leading efforts to protect our environment. Established in December 1972 as a follow up to the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, UN Environment further strengthened its strategic leadership in 2016, exercising its role as a global authority on the environment. It implemented its Medium Term Strategy and Programme of Work, strengthening its partnership with governments, local authorities, the UN system, the scientific community, business, investors, and civil society. No stakeholder was left behind in the joint effort to address the challenges of sustainability and resilience.

 

 

A trusted partner

In 2016, the “Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network” conducted a thorough review of the organization’s strategy, delivery model, systems and operations. UN Environment was confirmed as a trusted partner, an actor that “meets the requirements of an effective multilateral organization” and that “shows continued strength in terms of being a global authority on environmental issues and providing a robust evidence base for advocacy and policy dialogue… with… a sound operational model, appropriate policies, processes and procedures in place that are expected of a well-functioning multilateral organization.” The review stated that strategically, we have built, over time, a “...results framework that provides clear vision and strategic direction”; organizational systems and processes in place that are “fit for purpose” and are able to form “effective partnerships which are central to the service delivery model”.

The task of underpinning the organization’s strategic and programmatic work with adequate, and efficient systems remains a constant one: we now must begin using the key parameters and criteria offered by the review to improve further, to better align our programmes with the 2030 agenda and with the work of other UN agencies; to build a robust business intelligence framework that allows effective use of performance data, and greater ability to conduct analysis and reviews; and to strengthen our partnerships and alliances to successfully tackle the growing complexity of the environment and development landscape globally.

These parameters do constitute the essential kit of “fundamentals” that will constantly help us perform as a confident organization, a “trusted partner” to governments, businesses and people.

Compare our results from 2011 and 2016.

 

Strategic Leadership

Significant changes in the global policy landscape have occurred in 2016.

In October, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer struck a landmark deal to reduce the emissions of powerful greenhouse gases, hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), in a move that could prevent up to 0.5°C temperature rise by the end of the century while protecting the ozone layer. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, whose Secretariat is hosted by UN Environment, will be an important contribution to the world towards keeping global warming well below 2°C of pre-industrial levels. Also important is the Minamata Convention on Mercury that will likely enter into force in 2017, with only 15 additional member states’ ratifications needed.

On 4 November – less than a year after it was adopted – the Paris Agreement on Climate Change came into force following the ratification by 55 countries whose economies account for 55 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. The unprecedented speed with which the Paris Agreement was ratified is a powerful confirmation of countries’ commitment to urgently tackle climate change – and a similarly powerful reminder of the huge tasks set out for us in assisting its partners in the implementation of such an ambitious agreement. 2016 was the hottest year on record since record keeping started in 1880.

With the world urban population expected to nearly double by 2050, urbanization is one of the 21st century’s most transformative trends, posing massive sustainability challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure, transport, basic services, food security, health, education, decent jobs, safety, and natural resources, among others. Member states adopted the Quito Declaration on Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements for All to take action on this front.

Five years of negotiations and tireless “Speedo diplomacy” from endurance swimmer and UN Environment Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, Antarctica's Ross Sea was finally declared a Marine Protected Area in October. The Ross Sea, known as the “Polar Garden of Eden”, is widely considered to be the last great wilderness area on Earth. The 1.57 million square-kilometre region is now the world's largest protected area.

These developments, along with the actions of the UN Environment Assembly and regional ministerial forums, are building a momentum and the foundations that enable the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There has never been a better time than now to embed environmental sustainability into the way in which economies run. Global trends show a growing recognition, t that environmental sustainability is about the economy: opportunities to invest, to create jobs, to improve peoples’ health and well-being, while at the same time maintaining the vitality and full functionality of the Planet’s assets and ecosystems, the very natural foundations that support our lives.

 

Programmatic relevance and scale of intervention

This is a moment to reflect on our programmatic relevance, on our ability to meet countries’ demands for services, information, solutions; to help them build stronger institutions, better legal instruments, improved investment opportunities; and to continue being a global, knowledgeable and authoritative custodian of the global scientific work and of the “safe negotiating space”, to play a much needed global role in an increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Our programme’s relevance and performance in 2016 has been critical in supporting our key constituents: countries, businesses and citizens. As of December 2016, we have 60 per cent of our targeted indicators for 2016 fully achieved, while the remaining are partially achieved. This result is based on efforts from previous years including 2016 expenditure across our different funding sources of US$511 million, US$172 million more than the year’s projected budget of US$339 million owing to an income that exceeded the projected budget. However, despite this higher income, there has been a decline in the Environment Fund, which is stressing the foundation from which we leverage a strategic portfolio that aligns with the approved programme of work.

A number of key results were achieved in 2016. We supported more countries to integrate ecosystem-based and other adaptation approaches into national plans, bringing the cumulative total to 21 countries. We brought together first-mover financiers and renewable energy project developers to mitigate risks and share some of the early-stage investment costs. In 2016, the Seed Capital Assistance Facility signed new agreements with key players in the private sector, and now has a total capitalization of US$660 million. More countries in 2016 finalized national REDD+ strategies that recognize multiple benefits and the role of private sector, an important step in enabling countries to receive results-based payments, and bringing the total 22 countries.

Over the course of 2016, we also supported 22 countries to reduce the risks of natural disasters, industrial accidents and conflicts. We responded to seven acute environmental emergencies in six countries in 2016, meeting all national requests for assistance.

To help create an enabling environment for countries to manage ecosystems in a sustainable way, we help countries take account of ecosystem services, assess water quality and incorporate considerations of the health and productivity of ecosystems into their policy frameworks. By the end of 2016, 11 countries had operational ecosystem accounts in place. Thirteen countries had taken steps to update their water quality frameworks. With our support, ten new countries and one region adopted or even started implementing green economy policies and sustainable consumption and production actions plans in 2016, bringing the total to 49 countries, cities and regions since 2011.

We launched six regional Global Environment Outlooks and the first Global Gender and Environment Outlook at the 2016 UN Environment Assembly. Together these provide not only an assessment of the state of the environment but also a perspective on the importance of the social aspects of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda. The regional assessments are the building blocks for the global assessment, which is on its way to be delivered at the 4th UN Environment Assembly in 2019.

 

 

We made significant contributions in 2016 to the UN system’s new guidance on country Development Assistance Frameworks. The new guidance, which is informed by the 2030 Agenda, has four principles for integrated programming: leave no one behind; human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment; sustainability and resilience; and accountability. The new guidance is being piloted in different countries in the context of UN Delivering as One approach.

However, the mission is far from being accomplished. While progress towards achieving lasting results across our seven areas of focus—climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, chemicals and waste, resource efficiency, and environment under review—has been generally good, a number of challenges remain if we are to contribute significantly to meet countries’ abilities to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These challenges include reductions in the Environment Fund that are stressing the very foundation of our business model. This model relies on us using our resources of the Environment Fund to leverage a portfolio that is strategic and aligned to the programme of work approved by Member States. With lower Environment Fund resources, the implementation of the programme of work rests on the priorities of the contributors. We also must bring more programmatic coherence across our range of initiatives to leverage further impact so that we do not have too dispersed a portfolio.

We have to use how we use partnerships to stretch any limited capacities we have internally. This will include engaging better with the private sector, and other game changers, ensuring there is a business case of interest to those players, while also engaging citizens to create a momentum for change. Addressing these challenges is critical to our work on, for instance, chemicals and waste, where our performance against our targets will need to be strengthened.

We will need to significantly increase our ability to engage the private sector; we shall have to improve the way we inform, engage and involve citizens in our work; and we must now scale up our work in tackling key global issues: sustainable finance, environmental security, climate change, biodiversity, health and pollution.

The scaling up of green finance is critical in this regard. World leaders meeting at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China in September 2016 recognized the importance of scaling up green finance practices. They welcomed options put forward by the G20 Green Finance Study Group, whose secretariat is hosted by UN Environment, which shows what practical steps can be taken to improve policies and market capacity, and support the development of green bond markets.

We need to be able to scale up support to countries to enable them to review their regulatory and policy frameworks and bring about a policy transformation that creates the rules and conditions for such investment. The United Nations, with 19 banks and investors worldwide (totaling US$6.6 trillion in assets), launched a global framework aimed at channeling the money they manage towards clean, low carbon and inclusive projects. The framework – The Principles for Positive Impact Finance – is a first of its kind, setting criteria for investments to be considered sustainable. It spans different business lines, including retail and wholesale lending, corporate and investment lending and asset management. The principles provide guidance for financiers and investors to analyse, monitor and disclose the social, environmental and economic impacts of the financial products and services they deliver. We need more such game changers to create the kind of transformative change necessary to achieve the sustainable development goals.

In a related context, in Indonesia, the Tropical Landscape Finance Facility was established, with UN Environment, the World Agroforestry Centre, BNP Paribas and ADM Capital. The Facility will provide loans and grants to commercial projects, with significant positive social and environmental impact. The target is to capitalize the facility at a level of US$1 billion, mostly in private sector financing.

Such kinds of innovation will enable the transformative change member states are looking for and will provide the foundations to evolve our own delivery mechanisms through highly focused, well directed strategic partnerships. The 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production with its programmes on building s and construction, food systems, tourism, consumer information, public procurement and sustainable lifestyles, and the Finance Initiative, both hosted by UN Environment, the Climate Technology Centre and Network, that we jointly host with the UN Industrial and Development Organization, the 18 regional seas conventions and programmes that we support, and the UN REDD+ partnership are just some of the vehicles that can be used for such transformative change.

As the custodian agency for 26 of the Sustainable Development Goals indicators (and already reporting to the UN Secretary-General on six of these indicators in 2016), we are well placed to ensure that countries are well-equipped and able to track their progress. With some 48 UN agencies engaging with us on a UN system-wide framework on environmental strategies and aligning their strategies to the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it will also enable us to work with the rest of the UN system to leverage even further change.

We are also an accredited agency to the Green Climate Fund, besides its consolidated role as a key partner of the European Union’s Programme for the Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, and an Implementing Agency for both the Multilateral Fund of the Montreal Protocol and the Global Environment Facility: there is a potential for far greater integration of these global funding instruments with our strategic priorities; for a more organized, strategic “blending” of these funding sources in achieving lasting results and contributions to the implementation of the sustainable development goals; and for launching integrated activities and initiatives at a far greater scale.

On the biodiversity front, we have been extremely engaged as the host of key biodiversity related conventions but also through the activities implemented under the ecosystems management programme in the organization. As the negative effects of human pressure on wildlife and biodiversity rapidly increase in magnitude, global responses remain unfortunately fragmented, uncoordinated and mainly rely on “specialist” inputs and initiatives promoted by individual countries, conservation organizations, institutions, international conventions, and multilateral environmental agreements. Poaching and trafficking of wildlife are rapidly increasing, and in addition wildlife populations worldwide are significantly threatened by increasing loss of habitat as a result of rapid human population growth and agricultural expansions. Even if the fight against the current high levels of poaching were successful, habitat and range loss will continue to threaten the future of wild species across the world and exacerbate the level of human-wildlife conflicts. The currently fragmented nature of responses to biodiversity and wildlife losses reveals the difficulty decision-makers face in articulating a mechanism – or series of coordinated mechanisms – to successfully reverse the ongoing decline. This, however, is a significant opportunity to scale up our work on biodiversity and wildlife and address this global challenge in a more coordinated, politically impacting fashion.

We also need to create the "enabling conditions" to scale up the results we are currently achieving on other fronts. The global financial system, for instance, can be a powerful enabler for a greener and sustainable future. Green finance is critical in this regard. Realizing the sustainable development goals will require a major rechanneling of financial flows – both public and private as well as changes to the global financial system. Similarly, we need to demonstrate how cities can be low-carbon, resource-efficient and resilient, while also offering opportunities for new jobs and investments and other social and economic benefits.

We also need to create a significant movement globally in which society sees the reduction of pollution as critical to health and in our oceans, critical to livelihoods and fisheries. In turn, this movement needs to create a political momentum for change. We need to shift public opinion on the criticality of ecosystem health to economic growth and well-being. Together with a greater government, citizen and business movement, we can help countries tackle root causes of critical problems.

Our work on: Climate Change

Our work on Climate Change Minimizing the scale & impact
of climate change

Scroll
Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT).

In our work on climate change, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • Climate resilience, where we support countries in using ecosystem-based and other approaches to adapt and build resilience to climate change;
  • Low-emission growth, where we support countries to adopt energy efficiency measures, access clean energy finance, and reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by transitioning to renewable sources of energy.
  • REDD+, where we enable countries to capitalize on investment opportunities that reduce greenhouse emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with adequate social and environmental safeguards.

Through our climate resilience work in 2016, we enabled Albania, Angola and Antigua & Barbuda to access finance for implementing ecosystem-based adaptation, bringing the total number of countries who have done so with our assistance to 45. We also supported Lesotho and Uganda to integrate ecosystem-based and other adaptation approaches into their national plans, bringing the total to 21 countries.

In our work to promote low-emission growth, we supported six East African countries to explore their potential for geothermal energy; enabled the installation of 3 million square meters of solar water heating panels in five countries; and helped eight countries access technologies related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, among many other results.

The UN-REDD Programme, jointly implemented by UN Environment, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN and the UN Development Programme, is supporting 64 countries to become “REDD+ ready”, or prepared to welcome relevant investment opportunities. In 2016, Chile, Congo, Ecuador, Peru and Sri Lanka finalized or adopted national REDD+ strategies.

Morocco embraces efficiency

Morocco embraces efficiency Photo: Noureddine Tilsaghani for UN Environment.

In 2015, Mohamed Amine Benchafai, who works as a driver and gardener outside the city of Fes, Morocco, was spending nearly 10 per cent of his monthly income to cover his electricity bill.

“I used to always scream at my children to turn off the lights,” says Benchafai, 47, who has four children at home and earns around US$300 per month. “My electricity bill was very high.”

So when he heard an ad on the radio about how compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) could save him money, he decided to pay a visit to the local branch of Morocco’s national electricity office to learn more.

Read Full Story

“The agent was very kind, and he told me that I could take 10 lamps and only pay 10 dirhams (US$0.10) per month,” he says. “I am not rich and I do not have the money to buy them cash, so I found this solution very interesting.”

Benchafai took the lamps home and installed them, and his electricity bill went down immediately. One year later, he still hasn’t had to replace any of the lamps. He will finish paying them off in September 2017.

It’s a story that has been replicated across the country thanks to a project run jointly by Morocco’s National Office for Electricity and Drinking Water (ONEE) and UN Environment, with support from the Global Environment Facility. Since the project was launched in 2007, 9 million CFLs have been installed in homes and businesses across Morocco.

Morocco embraces efficiency Photo: Flickr/Marcus Williams.

So the project’s first task was to make CFLs more affordable and accessible. Working together, UN Environment and the National Electricity Office set up a gradual payment scheme for the lamps, which is what Benchafai took advantage of. They also started using mobile caravans to deliver CFLs to remote areas, and they made sure that the lamps were available in the country’s major supermarkets.

Today, the project is working with the En.Lighten Initiative, which is run by UN Environment and funded by the Global Environment Facility, to help the country develop policies and regulations that will drive Moroccans to convert to CFLs even faster. New taxes, financial incentives and performance standards are in the works, which could encourage people to make the switch to efficient lighting. The project is also training policymakers, customs officials and staff at product testing labs to make sure that CFL product standards remain high.

 

See how we performed on Climate Change in 2016...

In our work on climate change, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • Climate resilience, where we support countries in using ecosystem-based and other approaches to adapt and build resilience to climate change;
  • Low-emission growth, where we support countries to adopt energy efficiency measures, access clean energy finance, and reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by transitioning to renewable sources of energy.
  • REDD+, where we enable countries to capitalize on investment opportunities that reduce greenhouse emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with adequate social and environmental safeguards.

In 2016, we met our targets for climate change with the exception of 2 targets, which have progressed solidly but not to the extent we had targeted.

 

 

Climate Resilience: Equipping more countries to adapt to climate change

We need to ensure that more countries are equipped to adapt to climate change. The 2016 Adaptation Finance Gap Report 1 emphasizes that we do not just need more financing; we need more funds that are well invested. Our strategy is to ensure countries create the right enabling environment to do so. Ultimately, this means countries must have the technical and institutional capacity to adapt to climate change with healthy, well-functioning ecosystems as part of their adaptation strategies. By December 2015, we had supported 42 countries to create an enabling environment for and implement ecosystem-based and other adaptation approaches. 2 Our target for 2016 was to enable two more countries to achieve the same result. During 2016, the organization enabled three more countries (Albania, Angola and Antigua & Barbuda) to access adaptation finance for implementing ecosystem-based adaptation. This brings the cumulative number to 45 countries implementing ecosystem-based adaptation measures, which means we are on track to meeting the targets set out in the programme of work.

To help ensure that ecosystem-based approaches demonstrated in one site are sustained and replicated elsewhere, we also support countries to integrate this thinking into national-level planning. As of December 2015, 19 countries had progressed with integrating ecosystem-based and other adaptation approaches into national plans. In 2016, we enabled two more countries (Lesotho and Uganda) to integrate ecosystem-based and other adaptation approaches into national plans, bringing the cumulative total to 21 countries. This means that our 2016 target has been met.

 

Countries are increasingly recognizing ecosystem-based adaptation as an effective approach, with some governments scaling up their ongoing ecosystem-based adaptation work and incorporating ecosystems in their Nationally Determined Contributions3 as part of their vision for adaptation. In 2016, three countries (The Gambia, Nepal and Rwanda) successfully scaled up their ecosystem-based adaptation work with additional resources, including from the Green Climate Fund (The Gambia and Peru4 ).

In 2014-2015, we supported 10 countries 5 with their accreditation process to the Adaptation Fund, of which four countries (Costa Rica, Mexico, Namibia and Peru) became accredited and can now access finance directly. In 2016, Cook Island’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Management became accredited and Bhutan’s Trust Fund for Conservation of Nature was able to submit its application for accreditation to the Adaptation Fund. We provided readiness support in accessing financing from the Green Climate Fund to 16 countries, 6 with Kenya’s National Environmental Management Agency being accredited in 2016. Other national institutions from Ghana, El Salvador, Nepal and Kenya are in the process of becoming accredited.

In addition, we helped countries increase the availability of microfinance for ecosystem-based adaptation. During 2014-2015, five microfinance institutions in Colombia and Peru delivered 1,300 microfinance pilots that were focused on ecosystem-based adaptation. These ranged from finance for drip-irrigation to sustainable forest management. These pilots will inform larger-scale work of the partner institutions, which have committed to provide farmers with loans worth US$19 million over the next five years to reduce their vulnerability to climate change. In 2016, 000 of these loans were given out, which translates into US$9 million of private funds benefitting 7,000 farmers.

While we are meeting our targets on climate change adaptation, if countries are to successfully implement the Paris Agreement and National Adaptation Plans, we need to scale up and catalyse adaptation at a much broader scale. Countries will need to have access to adaptation finance, and partnerships will need to be strengthened and broadened.

The 2016 Adaptation Finance Gap Report states that private finance in the form of debt, equity and insurance products could help scale up financing. To catalyse widespread action on adaptation, governments will need to help identify major players from the private sector who are interested in investment opportunities brought about by ecosystem-based adaptation. The UN’s Climate Resilience Initiative (known as A2R - Absorb, Anticipate and Reshape) presents an important opportunity to engage the private sector. The initiative, which was launched in 2016, is a voluntary international partnership that brings together national governments, UN agencies, the private sector and civil society. UN Environment is a member of the A2R Leadership Group.

 

Low-Emission Growth: Promoting renewables and improving energy efficiency

Complementing our work on adaptation to climate change is our work to support low-emission growth. This work focuses on increasing the use of renewables and improving energy efficiency by providing guidance on policy, technology and access to finance.

Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 7

We bring together first-mover financiers and renewable energy project developers to mitigate risks and share some of the early-stage investment costs. In 2016, our Seed Capital Assistance Facility (SCAF), signed new cooperating partner agreements with Asia Capital Partners (ACP), GreenWish Capital, The Blue Circle and Zoscales, bringing the number of cooperating partner funds to seven. 8 The Facility now has a total capitalization of US$657 million, and US$20 million of seed capital invested in eight renewable energy projects in Cambodia, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Viet Nam. In addition, we mobilized US$40 million worth of investments through the Mediterranean Investment Facility, supported by the Italian Ministry of Environment. We aim to increase the amount of climate finance invested in clean energy. In summary, in 2016, we mobilized US$60 million, exceeding the target by US$10 million.

We also support the rapid uptake of renewables. In collaboration with the UN Development Programme, we helped five countries (Albania, Chile, India, Lebanon and Mexico) transform the market for solar water heating. We enabled the installation of 3 million square meters of solar water heating panels in the five countries, while removing barriers to the widespread uptake of solar water heaters. A key challenge is to catalyse this kind of market transformation at a much broader scale. Member States’ leadership on this issue could help create new jobs and drive investment in an area proven to be financially and technically feasible.

With funding from the Global Environment Facility and support from UN Environment, six East African countries (Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) are exploring their potential for geothermal energy. An additional seven countries (Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia) are getting support in the form of investments and assistance with removing barriers to geothermal energy. In 2016, two surface exploration projects in Ngozi (Tanzania) and Kibiro (Uganda) were successfully completed.

Our Emission Gap Report for 2016 9 highlights the significant potential of energy efficiency in achieving the long-term objective of the Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to well below 2°C. Our portfolio on low-emission growth includes work on energy efficiency, including lighting, appliances, transport, and district energy. Through this work, which includes multi-stakeholder partnerships, we are working toward Sustainable Development Goal 7.3, to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. We contribute to the energy efficiency goal of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative through its global energy efficiency accelerator platform. On this initiative, we co-lead work on energy-efficient appliances and equipment, transport and district energy.

Our target for 2016 was to support five new countries to meet energy-efficiency standards in specific sectors. We are close to meeting this target by supporting pilot cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia to develop district energy policy-investment roadmaps. 10 This work has unlocked significant investment from development banks operating in the region. In 2016, with our support, Russia implemented 10 ppm diesel fuel standards and Philippines implemented Euro 4/IV vehicle emission standards. Progress is underway in many countries: Peru has developed National Efficient Lighting Strategy (NELS) and is in the process of adopting it. Similar strategies are under development in Marrakech, Chile, Bolivia and Pakistan. In India, 5 pilot cities 11 have district energy policy-investment roadmaps under development. Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) for the building sector are under development in four countries. 12

MORE COUNTRIES ADOPT ACTIONS TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY NATIONALLY

Sector 2016 Results

Lighting

38 countries now have national efficient lighting strategies, although no new ones completed such strategies in 2016. 

District energy

2 13 countries have developed district energy policy investment roadmaps and feasibility studies leading to loan investments.    

Appliances and Equipment

12 new countries 14 have joined the United for Efficiency (U4E) initiative, which aims to transform markets for the deployment of energy efficient appliances, bringing the total to 25.

Transport

In 2016, the Philippines and Russia adopted fuel efficiency policies, bringing the total number of countries with cleaner vehicle and fuel efficiency policies to 12. 

 

 

Our target for 2016 was to support the implementation of seven initiatives on the transfer of advanced technologies in renewable energy or energy efficiency. In 2016, we assisted 22 countries in the process of transferring advanced technologies; eight 15 of those countries were assisted with technologies related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, exceeding the target for 2016.

Our target for 2016 was to have ten policies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other climate pollutants. In 2016, we supported an agreement on cleaner fuels in 23 regions of Peru and Paraguay and waste management actions in São Paolo in Brazil, Quezon city in Philippines, and Rayong and Bangkok in Thailand. This comes to a total of five policies or actions implemented; related work is progressing well in over 20 countries.

By engaging with major partnership initiatives, we can broaden our reach and expand our impact. The key challenge for these initiatives is to increase the space and capability of partners and countries to translate technical assistance into bankable projects.

MAJOR PARTNERSHIPS ARE LEVERAGING ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The 1 Gigaton Coalition

Launched at the climate conference in Lima in 2014, this initiative enables countries to measure and report emission savings resulting from renewable energy and energy efficiency. To date, the Coalition comprises 25 countries and 40 organizations. The Coalition's 2016 report found that existing renewable energy projects in developing countries will contribute 0.4Gt of CO2 emissions savings per year by 2020.

Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition  

Launched at the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014, this initiative encourages institutional investors to decarbonize their portfolios. The target is to decarbonize US$100 billion worth of investment portfolios by 2020. The coalition has grown from two members in 2014 to 27 16 in 2016, with commitments to decarbonize over US$600 billion in assets under management 17. To date, all Coalition members have taken substantive action to decarbonize their investment portfolios and 17 members have now adopted formal decarbonization-related objectives and targets.

The Climate and Clean Air Coalition

This multi-stakeholder partnership has grown to 112 partners, including 51 governments, who have made pledges worth US$58 million. Eleven high-impact initiatives are being implemented to catalyse and scale-up action to reduce black carbon and methane and to avoid hydrofluorocarbon in agriculture, brick production, cooking, heating, diesel vehicles, oil and gas production, and municipal solid waste. The coalition’s activities are relevant to 12 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Coalition partners led a group calling for an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which was achieved in 2016. Eight partner countries 18 pledged to target short-lived climate pollutants in their nationally determined contributions.   

The Climate Technology Centre and Network

The Centre, which we manage in partnership with the UN Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO), is the operational arm of the Climate Change convention’s technology mechanism. It provides technical assistance to countries on their climate technology challenges. As of December 2016, 22 countries were taking advantage of the technology assistance.

National Determined Contributions (NDC) Partnership

The NDC Partnership is a global initiative that was launched in November 2016 at the climate conference in Marrakech. It aims to help countries achieve their national climate commitments and ensure that financial and technical assistance is delivered as efficiently as possible. We are a partner of this initiative, which is hosted by the World Resource Institute. Our role is to support in-country implementation as well as technical assistance. We supported 35 countries 19 to develop their INDCs before the Paris Climate Conference and we are currently supporting countries to develop implementation readiness plans for National Determined Contributions, including national climate finance roadmaps.

 

Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and helping countries seize investment opportunities

The Paris Climate Agreement recognizes the central role of forests in achieving the goal of keeping temperatures well below 2°C through mitigation options that aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. To date, 118 countries have included forestry and land use measures as part of their pledges in their Nationally Determined Contributions 20. This represents 162 million hectares of restored, reforested and afforested land, which is in line with the Bonn Challenge and the New York Declaration on Forests.

The UN-REDD Programme, jointly implemented by UN Environment, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN and the UN Development Programme, is supporting 64 countries to become “REDD+ ready”, or prepared to welcome relevant investment opportunities. Twenty-five of these countries had national programmes. In 2016, five countries (Chile, Congo, Ecuador, Peru and Sri Lanka) finalized and/or adopted national REDD+ strategies that recognize multiple benefits and/or the role of private sector. This is in line with the UN Environment target of three additional countries having attained this goal by December 2016. This progress marks an important step in complying with the Climate Change Convention’s Warsaw Framework requirements for allowing countries to receive results-based payments. Since the start of the REDD+ programme, a total of 22 countries 21 have been developing, adopting or implementing national REDD+ strategies.

 

To complement the support to countries to develop and implement national REDD+ strategies, new innovative partnerships for transformative land management have been established. In Indonesia, 22 the Tropical Landscape Finance Facility was established, with UN Environment as Secretariat of the Facility. The World Agroforestry Centre, BNP Paribas and ADM Capital are key partners in the Facility, which will include both a loan and grant window. The Facility will provide long-dated and concessional debt, securing refinancing from a capital finance programme via long-dated Tropical Landscapes Bonds. The Facility seeks to provide the world’s first-ever large-scale finance programme for landscape protection and rural livelihoods; its motto “leveraging private finance for public good”. The Facility aims to lend in excess of US$1 billion to commercial projects, with significant positive social and environmental impact in Indonesia.

In addition, the Norwegian Government – in partnership with tropical forest countries, the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), UN Environment, the Global Environment Facility 23, and supported by major food companies and international environmental NGOs – is setting up The Tropical Forest and Agriculture Fund. The fund will seek to trigger private investment in deforestation-free agriculture in countries that are working to reduce their deforestation and forest and peat degradation. The fund aims to protect over 5 million hectares of forests and peatlands through projects secured by 2020.

 

Financial Status

 


1 http://web.unep.org/adaptationgapreport/sites/unep.org.adaptationgapreport/files/documents/agr2016.pdf

2 Twenty did so in 2014-2015; the others were before that biennium.

3 Nationally Determined Contributions are national plans which outline what post-2020 climate actions counties intend to undertake under the Paris Climate Agreement.

4 http://www4.unfccc.int/ndcregistry/PublishedDocuments/Peru%20First/iNDC%20Per%C3%BA%20english.pdf

5 Bhutan, Comoros, Madagascar, Maldives, Palau, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Tuvalu.

6 Albania*, Benin*, Comoros*, Colombia, El Salvador, Fiji, Ghana, Kenya, Montenegro, Nepal, Philippines, Serbia*, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe*. (Countries marked with (*) are funded by Green Climate Fund readiness funds and the rest from funds provided by Germany’s Environment Ministry.

7 Available at http://apps.unep.org/publications/pmtdocuments/-Global_trends_in_renewable_energy_investment_2015-201515028nefvisual8-mediumres.pdf.pdf Published by Frankfurt School, a UN Environment Collaborating Centre. Data for 2016 yet to be published.

8 Asia Climate Partners GreenWish Capital, The Blue Circle, CIIE Initiatives, DI Frontier Fund, JCM Capital, Zoscales.

9 Available at https://uneplive.unep.org/media/docs/theme/13/Emissions_Gap_Report_2016.pdf

10 The pilot cities are Belgrade in Serbia and Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

11 Coimbatore, Pune, Rajkot, Bhopal and Thane

12 Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam

13 Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.

14 Cambodia, Chile, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, South Africa, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey.

15 Albania, Algeria, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cote d'Ivoire, Iran, Senegal and Uganda.

16 A Capital, ABP, Allianz, Amundi Asset Management, AP4, Australian Ethical, BNP Paribas Investment Partners, Caisse des Dépôts (CDC), Church of Sweden, Environment Agency Pension Fund (UK), Fonds de réserves pour les retraites, Hermes Investment Management (UK), Humanis, Inflection Point Capital Management, KLP, Le Régime de Retraite additionnelle de la Fonction publique (ERAFP), Local Government Super (Australia), Mandatum Life, Mirova Natixis, MN, Ohman, Robecco SAM, Sonen Capital, Storebrand, Toronto Atmospheric Fund, University of Sydney and Wheb Asset Management.

17 See http://www.unepfi.org/fileadmin/climatechange/PDC2015pressrelease.pdf.

18 Central African Republic, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria and Togo.

19 Antigua and Barbuda, Afghanistan, Benin, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominica, Eritrea, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Maldives, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, São Tomé & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

20 Nationally Determined Contributions are national plans that outline what post-2020 climate actions counties intend to undertake under the Paris Climate Agreement.

21 Argentina, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Viet Nam and Zambia.

22 Indonesia has a funding gap in excess of US$ 20 billion for projects that address climate change mitigation and adaptation through, inter alia, inclusive access to energy, improved smallholder productivity, rural livelihoods and poverty alleviation.

23 The Global Environment Facility has provided a US$2 million reimbursable grant.

Our work on: Disasters and Conflicts

Our work on Disasters and Conflicts Minimizing environmental
threats

Scroll
Photo: UN Photo.

In our work on disasters and conflicts, we focus on achieving results in two areas:

  • Risk reduction, where we improve countries’ abilities to use environmental management to prevent and reduce the risks of natural hazards, industrial disasters and conflict.
  • Response and recovery, where we support countries in the aftermath of a disaster or conflict to identify and address environmental risks that could have serious social and economic impacts

Over the course of 2016, we supported 22 countries – including Afghanistan, Georgia, Peru and South Sudan – to reduce the risks of natural disasters, industrial accidents and conflicts. At the global level, one of our key measures of success is the extent to which we can integrate environmental solutions for risk reduction across the UN system. As in previous years, we exceeded our target for 2016.

100% response to requests for assistance

We responded to crises and supported recovery in 19 countries in 2016. Some of this work involved deploying teams to the scenes of acute environmental emergencies, such as the fires around Iraq’s Mosul Dam and a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Ecuador. We also conducted post-crisis assessments of environmental damage and recovery needs and provided guidance to those involved in recovery. These missions provide important opportunities for us to address both immediate and long-term environmental challenges.

We also support four countries – Afghanistan, Haiti, South Sudan and Sudan – that require sustained environmental assistance in the wake of conflict or other crises. In these countries, our aim is to help the governments develop the capacity to address environmental challenges on their own.

Weathering the Storm

Weathering the Storm Photo: UN Environment / Marc Lee Steed.

4 October 2016 was a harrowing day for the people of Haiti’s Grand Sud region.

Around six o’clock that morning, Hurricane Matthew made landfall near Les Anglais, a small fishing commune along Haiti’s southwest coast. The storm, which brought torrential rains and sustained winds of 230 kph, killed more than 500 people and caused nearly $2 billion in damage in Haiti alone. More than 90 per cent of homes along the country’s southern coast were destroyed.

But for Delphones Yves Bonel, the president of a local fishermen’s association, the day wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Read Full Story

"As the hurricane approached, some of us anchored our fishing boats in the mangrove, where they were safe from the wind and waves," he said. "Other fishermen just left their boats on the beach, and they were destroyed by the storm."

It was a step that Bonel and 30 other fishermen had learned in a UN Environment training on ecological-based disaster risk reduction, or Eco-DRR, in 2014. Among other things, the training taught them how healthy marine and coastal ecosystems can buffer the effects of extreme weather.

Helping locals reduce their vulnerability to hurricanes and other disasters is a key focus of UN Environment’s work in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and one that is frequently struck by storms, earthquakes and floods. Building Haitians’ resilience to these crises is critical to sustaining the country’s economic and social development, as well as protecting its beautiful beaches and other ecosystems.

UNEP - Haiti, Coastal Partners

UNEP - Haiti, Coastal Partners

That’s why UN Environment has integrated disaster risk reduction across all of its programming in the country. The organization’s country team, which has been active in Haiti since 2008, has reforested 141 hectares of vulnerable land along the coast, planting some 54,000 trees and 36,000 mangroves and sea grapes. They have also gone door to door among Haiti’s coastal communities, reaching more than 200 households with information about the importance of healthy ecosystems for reducing disaster risk. And they have trained dozens of fishermen, Bonel among them, on how to prepare for future storms.

It’s an approach that UN Environment is implementing in three other countries that are especially vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters – Afghanistan, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In each of these places, disasters threaten to undermine hard-earned development gains, with climate change expected to exacerbate the effects of such catastrophes in the years ahead. But by protecting key ecosystems and working with local communities, we are building an ecological bulwark against future crises, and supporting lives and livelihoods at the same time.

The positive effects of Eco-DRR are very real indeed for Bonel, the Haitian fisherman. Unlike many of his neighbours, he still has his boats, which means that he is able to feed his family.

Bonel says that other fishermen have told him that they were impressed that the mangroves were able to protect his equipment, despite the ferocious winds. He thinks that when the next storm comes, those fishermen will anchor their boats there too.

 

See how we performed on Disasters and Conflicts in 2016...

In our work on disasters and conflicts, we focus on achieving results in two areas:

  • Risk reduction, where we improve the capacity of countries to use environmental management to prevent and reduce the risks of natural hazards, industrial disasters and conflict.
  • Response and recovery, where we support countries in the aftermath of a disaster or conflict to identify and address environmental risks that could have serious social and economic impacts.

We exceeded two of our targets: responding to requests for support to environmental emergencies and influencing the UN system to integrate environmental issues in risk reduction policies, training and programmes. However, we were slightly less effective than anticipated in terms of influencing follow-on reconstruction plans and supporting post-crisis environmental governance capacity.

 

 

Risk reduction

Over the course of 2016, we supported 22 countries to reduce the risks of natural disasters, industrial accidents and conflicts. 1

 

MORE COUNTRIES REDUCE THEIR RISKS TO DISASTERS WITH UN ENVIRONMENT SUPPORT IN 2016

Country

Result

Belarus

Environmental risks in the exclusion zone along the Ukrainian and Belarusian borders were identified; flood risks in the Yaselda river basin were assessed.

Ethiopia

Emergency preparedness was improved through regional training of trainers in the Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies at Local Level (APELL) methodology.

Kazakhstan

Capacity was built on environmental emergency risk in disaster risk management, in collaboration with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The Philippines

Support was provided for the government’s first national workshop on linking wetlands and eco-Disaster Risk Reduction.

At the global level, one of the programme’s indicators of success is the extent to which it can integrate ecosystem-based solutions for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and peacebuilding into the wider UN’s guidelines, policies and programmes. As in previous years, we exceeded our target in 2016.

INCREASING POLICY CHANGES IN 2016 THAT PROMOTE CRISIS REDUCTION

Who we influenced

What we influenced

What we did

Why it’s important

Countries and international organisations in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI)

The EITI’s open data standards

UN Environment, which is collaborating with EITI and the World Bank to improve environmental transparency, provided detailed inputs on the content of the new open data policy, drawing in particular on experience from fragile states.

The EITI is one of the primary mechanisms for promoting public awareness about how countries manage their oil, gas and mineral resources. Originally focusing on revenue payments the EITI’s expansion into social and environmental issues offers a powerful avenue to improve environmental management in the extractive sector, particularly in fragile states.

Member states, 13 members within the UN system

The A2R initiative on climate resilience

UN Environment has been closely involved in the development of the Adapt, Absorb and Reshape initiative on climate resilience and provides A2R with shared Secretariat (with the Food and Agriculture Organization)

This initiative was launched at the Paris Conference of the Parties in 2015 but began operating with its Leadership group in 2016. The new initiative will strengthen the ability of countries to anticipate hazards, absorb shocks, and reshape development to reduce climate risks.

The Association of South East Asian Nations and UN partners

The UN-ASEAN Joint Strategic Plan of Action for Disaster Management 2016-2020 (JSPADM)

UN Environment involvement ensured that the following specific topics have been included in the JSPADM: incorporation of environmental drivers of risk, integration of climate risks into disaster risk management strategies, green recovery training and guidelines, training on the Flash Environmental Assessment Tool, and sharing of best practices on ecosystem approaches to disaster risk reduction.

This strategy governs disaster risk management in the ASEAN region up to 2020 and it now has multiple links to environmental issues. In particular it helsp to mainstream ecosystem approaches to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into ASEAN disaster risk management strategies.

Basel Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention focal points and emergency managers

Best practice training for preventing, preparing and responding to chemical emergencies

In October 2016, the JEU and Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam (BRS) Conventions Secretariat renewed their existing interface agreement, signed in 2011, between JEU and the Basel Convention. The agreement also covers preparedness and forms the base of joint training activities.

The training aims to raise awareness of the emergency assistance available to countries in case of an incident caused by the transboundary movements of hazardous and other wastes and to share information on existing mechanisms and procedures put in place by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and other regional and national organizations.

 

Response and Recovery

We responded to crises and supported recovery in 19 countries 2 in 2016. Our work involves responding to acute environmental emergencies as part of humanitarian response teams. It also includes conducting post-crisis assessments to assess more comprehensively the environmental damage and recovery needs, and providing guidance to those involved in recovery.

We responded to seven acute environmental emergencies in six countries in 2016, meeting all national requests for assistance. 3 This brings the number of post-crisis or rapid environmental assessments to 39 since 2011. These missions provide important opportunities to address both immediate and long-term environmental challenges. In 80 per cent of the post-crisis or environmental emergency assessments between January 2011 and December 2015 where UN Environment identified serious risks, national governments or the UN took remedial action to mitigate those risks (against a target 85 per cent).

MORE COUNTRIES RESPOND TO EMERGENCIES IN 2016 WITH UN ENVIRONMENT SUPPORT

Country

UNEP support

Result

Iraq (Mosul Dam)

The Joint Environment Unit (JEU) deployed a mission to support preparedness for a potential failure of the Mosul Dam.

As a follow-up, a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) mission was mobilized. The JEU was able to activate the following support activities: deployment of the World Health Organization Emergency Medical Teams' Manager, the development of dam-failure scenarios and flood maps through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, and the provision of satellite imagery through UNOSAT.

Ecuador (April earthquake)

In response to the April 2016 earthquake, an environmental expert was mobilized through the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism. The Flash Environmental Assessment Tool was used to evaluate risks posed by key industrial sites in the affected area, and technical advice was provided on disaster waste.

Major issues identified include impacts on protected areas and biodiversity, water management, pollution, environmental emergency risk and the need for eco-DRR solutions in hazard-exposed coastal areas. Outputs and analysis was incorporated into early recovery programmes.

Haiti (October hurricane)

An environmental emergency expert was mobilized through the JEU, with support of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism, as part of the UNDAC team deployed to support the response to Hurricane Matthew.

The environment was integrated in humanitarian plans (Flash Appeal, Humanitarian Response Plan) and PDNA. Recovery in the South is being coordinated around agriculture and incorporating environmental considerations.

While UN Environment provides environmental assessments immediately after a crisis on request from the country or UN system, the organization also supports those countries that require more sustained environmental assistance for recovery, which has meant longer-term support in several post-crisis countries.

We currently provide such support in four countries: Afghanistan, Haiti, South Sudan and Sudan. Our performance in these countries is measured against the extent to which it has increased environmental governance capacity in the form of a Country Capacity Framework, which measures the emerging capacity to address environmental challenges.4 This is the second key indicator of the success of the subprogramme.

 

Highlights of UN Environment’s country presence, 2016

Afghanistan

UN Environment assisted the Afghanistan Resilience Consortium (ARC) and Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority on the initial steps of a new national resilience pathways Disaster Risk Reduction framework. This resulted in climate change science capacity as well as resilience- and adaptation-focused response strategies being made accessible to local district and village planners. It also helped link the university and science institutions to international expertise and networks.

Haiti

UN Environment worked with the Government of Haiti to build capacity for the management of marine protected areas along the country’s southern coast and to promote a green economy by (1) revitalizing the cacao sector under a new, sustainable model working with youth and women and targeting high value cacao markets abroad; (2) providing an analysis of the charcoal value chain that is changing the way that the government and donors address deforestation; (3) establishing Green Economy partnerships with three social enterprises; and (4) providing electricity seven days a week to 1,000 households and public spaces in three coastal communities. Following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, we supported the Post Disaster Needs Assessment and ensured that environmental issues were incorporated into recovery plans.

South Sudan

Amid a turbulent political context, UN Environment nonetheless provided technical support to enable South Sudan to meet key international obligations through the completion of its National Adaptation Programme of Action and Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. UN Environment also facilitated successful resource mobilization from the Global Environment Facility to prepare the first South Sudan State of the Environment & Outlook Report accompanied by a programme of capacity-building support.

Sudan

Sudan's first Multi-stakeholder Catchment Management Forum was established in the Wadi El Ku area of North Darfur with the support of UN Environment. The forum will advise on equitable and sustainable use of resources. It is part of a growing number of local initiatives, developed by UN Environment, that bring competing tribal groups together around shared natural resources and community-based management of water infrastructure and forest reserves in Darfur and Kordofan.

Our 2016 target was for all countries receiving long-term support to have progressed one step across four dimensions in the country capacity framework by the end of 2016. The fact that all the countries either maintained or progressed their position along the Country Capacity Framework during 2016 is a significant achievement given the continuation of violence in South Sudan and Afghanistan and the impact of the devastating Hurricane Matthew in Haiti in October 2016. These events relate to a central challenge of the subprogramme’s recovery work, which is how to gauge progress in fluid and often highly challenging situations. The four countries have collectively advanced 11 of a required 16 steps along the country capacity framework since 2013, which translates to a 96 per cent achievement of the target.

 

COUNTRIES RECEIVING UN ENVIRONMENT’S LONG-TERM SUPPORT PROGRESS IN BUILDING CAPACITY

No Progress Slight Progress Strong Progress Setback
 

Afghanistan

2014 2015 2016
Access to Information, data availability
Policy and planning
Legal environment
Institutions
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Public participation
 

Haiti

2014 2015 2016
Access to Information, data availability
Policy and planning
Legal environment
Institutions
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Public participation

 

 

South Sudan

2014 2015 2016
Access to Information, data availability
Policy and planning
Legal environment
Institutions
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Public participation
 

Sudan

2014 2015 2016
Access to Information, data availability
Policy and planning
Legal environment
Institutions
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Public participation

 

 

Financial Status

 


1 Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Georgia, Haiti, India, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Peru, the Philippines, Serbia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uganda and Ukraine.

2 Afghanistan, Bolivia, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.

3 Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti, Iraq (x2: Mosul dam and Mosul fires), Palestine and Paraguay.

4 The country capacity framework aims to provide an objective assessment of the extent to which UN Environment has built overall country-level capacity for environmental governance in six dimensions: 1. Access to information and availability of data for informed decision-making; 2. Enhanced planning and policy development skills; 3. Improved regulatory frameworks; 4. Stronger environmental institutions; 5. Implementation and enforcement capacity; and 6. Public participation in decision-making. Each dimension has six components or steps. Country project teams, in collaboration with national partners, assess the level of environmental governance across each of these components at the end of each year and decide the extent to which they have been achieved (incomplete, partially met, mostly met, or complete). A cumulative equivalent score of four components progressing from incomplete to complete is needed to meet the expected accomplishment. The original indicator anticipated baseline information being available from 2010 and across a wider group of countries. However, it was felt that the indicator would appropriately apply to only those countries in which UN Environment is providing long-term support (currently four). In addition, full baseline information for these four countries was collected in 2013, thereby reducing the time for the achievement of the indicator and skewing the percentage necessary for full achievement of the indicator.

Our work on: Ecosystem Management

Our work on Ecosystem Management Supporting human well-being
through healthy ecosystems

Scroll
Photo: Flickr/Suwandono Wawan.

In our work on ecosystem management, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • The enabling environment, where we help countries incorporate the value and long-term functioning of ecosystems in planning and accounting frameworks;
  • The productivity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, where we help countries use an ecosystem approach to managing terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; and
  • The productivity of marine ecosystems, where we help countries use an ecosystem approach in marine ecosystem management.

We help countries take account of ecosystem services, assess water quality and incorporate ecosystems into their policy frameworks. By the end of 2016, 11 countries – including Brazil, Kenya and the Philippines – had operational ecosystem accounts in place. Thirteen countries had taken steps to update their water quality frameworks, and 44 countries had incorporated the health and productivity of ecosystems in at least two of their policy frameworks.

With our support, 33 countries enabled different sectors of their economies to use an ecosystem approach, and five water basins took steps to secure their terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. We also supported ecosystem restoration and the establishment of protected areas in Bolivia, China and Zambia, among other countries.

Action on marine litter and wastewater continued to increase in 2016, with another eight countries, sub-national governments and private sector entities agreeing on marine litter or wastewater action plans in 2016. Meanwhile, 11 out of 18 of our Regional Seas Conventions or Action Plans or their member states used an ecosystem approach to improve the management of the marine environment.

Reviving Iraq’s “Garden of Eden”

Reviving Iraq’s ‘Garden of Eden’

The Mesopotamian Marshes, a wetland in the deserts of southern Iraq, are home to hundreds of thousands of bird species as well as archeological monuments that date back 5,000 years. But the Marshes – which scholars say could be the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden – have suffered greatly over the last half century.

Drained repeatedly since the 1950s, the Marshes have been further damaged by drought, desertification and violent conflict. By 2003, the marshes had shrunk to just 10 per cent of their original size.

But with help from UN Environment, the region is getting back on track. Since 2004, we have been working with civil society and the Government of Iraq to restore the Marshlands to their former glory. The partners have trained Iraqi decision-makers, monitored marsh conditions, and worked in collaboration with local communities to develop a plan to manage the Marshes sustainably

Read Full Story

And then, in July 2016, came a major breakthrough: The Marshes were granted World Heritage status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

This had been a key pursuit, and one in which UN Environment had played an important role. The designation will bring new funding and international attention to the area, and further encourage the Marsh Arabs to preserve their environmental and cultural heritage. Locals greeted the announcement with enthusiasm.

Reviving Iraq’s ‘Garden of Eden’

“Having our marshes on the World Heritage list is a big dream come true for us”, said Razaq Jabbar Sabon, a fisherman and native of the Marshes. “Our life will be better, income will be better and tourism will prosper.”

Sabon was born in the central Marshes in 1965, but he left with his family in the early 1990s, after the regime of Saddam Hussein had begun draining the wetlands. They moved to the outskirts of Baghdad, where Sabon found work as a farmhand. But in 2005, when the marshes started to come back to life, he and his family returned to the area. Now, in addition to fishing, Sabon also makes money driving a boat for tourists.

But much is left to be done.

“There are a number of things we need to do,” said Jassim Al-Asadi, director of Nature Iraq, a non-governmental organization and UN Environment partner. “We need to carry out further studies on the marshland ecosystems, assess how human activity is affecting the local environment, and get local businesses involved in schemes to maintain and protect the environment.”

Our support to the Iraqi Marshes is just one example of our work to promote integrated ecosystem management – an approach that aims to help ecosystems meet both ecological and human needs. Critically, this kind of work can help to prevent new flows of environmental migrants, like Sabon. Environmental factors have long been a driving factor in global migration, as people flee harsh and deteriorating conditions in search of better lives and livelihoods. According to the International Organization for Migration, the world could see up to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050.

 

See how we performed on Ecosystem Management in 2016...

In our work on ecosystem management, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • The enabling environment, where we help countries incorporate the value and long-term functioning of ecosystems in planning and accounting frameworks;
  • The productivity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, where we help countries use an ecosystem approach to managing terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; and
  • The productivity of marine ecosystems, where we help countries use an ecosystem approach in marine ecosystem management.

We partially met our 2016 ecosystem targets.

 

 

Building knowledge and enabling conditions

To help create an enabling environment for countries to manage ecosystems in a sustainable way, we help countries take account of ecosystem services, assess water quality and incorporate considerations of the health and productivity of ecosystems into their policy frameworks. By the end of 2016, 11 countries 1 had operational ecosystem accounts in place. Thirteen countries 2 had taken steps to update their water quality frameworks and more than 90 countries had reported about the status of water quality. Forty-four countries had also incorporated the health and productivity of ecosystems as an element in at least two of their policy frameworks.

 

We offer a number of products and services in our work to achieve this result. The following were used in 2016:

  • Our products and services that contribute to the establishment of accounts on ecosystem services include valuations, standard setting, capacity building, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study for Agriculture and Food, and the Inclusive Wealth Index.
  • As per resolution 27/3 of the UN Environment Governing Council, we worked with countries to compile best practices and frameworks for water quality. We also supported countries to monitor and report on water quality, in line with the Sustainable Development Goal on Water.
  • We worked with more than 100 countries to put in place policies and strategies on biodiversity, desertification, biosafety, agriculture, forestry and access and benefit sharing. We further supported country work through global forums, capacity building, review and data.

 

Productivity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems

By the end of 2016, we had enabled different sectors in a total of 33 countries 3 to use an ecosystem approach. We had also enabled five water basins 4 to take steps to secure the health and productivity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. We have also supported the establishment of protected areas and the advancement of ecosystem restoration. 5

We offer a number of products and services in our work to achieve this result. The following were used in 2016:

  • We provided technical support through UN Water and the Global Environmental Monitoring Initiative (Water) to test the monitoring and reporting on the indicators under the Sustainable Development Goal on Water. We have further compiled best practices on water quality and, in collaboration with countries, raised the level of awareness and capacity to monitor, address and report on water quality.
  • Through collaboration with the Global Research Partnership and the members of the Landscape for People Food and Nature initiative, PROTEUS and the Finance Initiative, we made best practice and data available to the finance, extractive, agriculture, forestry, water and energy sectors.

MORE COUNTRIES USE AN ECOSYSTEM APPROACH TO IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY

Country Result

Nepal

Pollination management plans have been adopted and pollinator conservation has been included in the revised Agrobiodiversity Policy.

Cambodia

Cambodia incorporated UN Environment knowledge products and scenario analysis of the landscape approach in their national climate change plan. They also completed and endorsed a National Invasive Species Strategy and Action Plan.

 

Productivity of marine ecosystems

Country action on marine litter and wastewater continued to increase in 2016, with another 8 countries, sub-national level governments and private sector entities 6 agreeing on marine litter or wastewater action plans.

UN Environment’s Regional Seas Programmes and the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) are the main vehicles that we use to support countries in integrating the ecosystem approach in their efforts to sustain coastal and marine ecosystems. In 2016, 61 per cent 7 of regional seas (11 out of 18 regional seas programmes or action plans) or their member states used an ecosystem approach to improve the management of the marine environment.

 

INCREASED ACTION TO MAINTAIN THE HEALTH AND PRODUCTIVITY OF OCEANS

Country or groups of countries Result

Cabo Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal

Adopted or updated wastewater action plans.

Tesco

Banned microbeads from all products.

Barbados

Piloted a financial mechanism for reef management.

Mexico

Pledged to increase marine protection to 23% (more than double the target percentage).

We offer a number of products and services in our work to achieve this result. The following were used in 2016:

  • We provided support to countries to establish action plans to address marine litter and wastewater at regional, national and sub-national level.
  • We provided secretarial support to the Tehran Convention (Caspian Sea) to establish the trust fund and for the ratification of the Aktau Protocol on regional preparedness, response and cooperation in combating oil pollution incidents.
  • Under the auspices of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from land-based activities, we organized a Massive Open Online Course on nutrients and wastewater and secured US$500,000 to raise awareness and increase investments in addressing land-based pollution.
  • We also worked with several countries to harness opportunities from sustainable wastewater management through pilot projects, fact sheets videos, and workshops.
  • The Green Fins programme has continued to improve business practices in the scuba diving sector. It now operates in seven countries with over 500 diving and snorkelling operators.

In preparation of the 2018-2021 Mid-Term Strategy, we have increased our focus on how finance is allocated in the public and private sector with several knowledge products and partnerships. This work seeks to substantially shift private financial flow to improved ecosystems management. In 2016, UN Environment, in collaboration with several finance institutions (S&P Global ratings and HSBC) put forward ground-breaking insight into the role of natural resource-related risk in Sovereign Credit Analysis. Furthermore, we continue to play a key facilitating role in establishing the Tropical Forest and Agriculture Fund, which seeks to reduce financial barriers to sustainable land management.

 

Financial Status

 


1 Australia, Brazil, Botswana, Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, Mauritius, Philippines and Rwanda.

2 Finland, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Uganda, United States of America.

3 Angola, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Côte d'Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine.

4 Lukaya, Mekong, Mixteca, Molopo-Nossob, and Tigris-Euphrates.

5 Argentina, Bolivia, China, Cook Island, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Marshall islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Mozambique, Nauru, Palau, Paraguay, Peru, Tanzania, Zambia.

6 Marine litter (Hawaii, USA;Lanzarote, Spain; Tesco) and wastewater (Cabo Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Mauritania, Senegal).

7 Abidjan Convention, Barcelona Convention, Cartagena Convention, Helsinki Convention, Jeddah Convention, Nairobi Convention, North-West Pacific Action Plan, OSPAR Convention, South Asian Seas Action Plan, Lima Convention, Tehran Convention.

Our work on: Environmental Governance

Our work on Environmental Governance Strengthening governance
in an interconnected world

Scroll
Photo: Flickr/Franco Pecchio.

Environmental governance comprises the rules, practices, policies and institutions that shape how humans interact with the environment. We work to strengthen institutions and improve environmental governance in three ways:

  • Improving coherence and leveraging synergies, where we aim to help the UN system and multilateral environmental agreements work together more coherently;
  • Strengthening laws and institutions, where we support national efforts to develop and enforce laws and strengthen institutions to achieve environmental objectives; and
  • Mainstreaming the environment into development, where we help countries integrate environmental sustainability into their development planning.

One of our objectives is to green the operations of the entire UN system. In 2016, with our support, the World Bank, the Department for Field Support, and three other UN bodies adopted environmental management systems or strategies. In 2016, we worked even more closely with our colleagues in the secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements, with three new cooperative agreements established.

Strong environmental rule of law is the bedrock of environmental governance and a cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda. In 2016, as a result of our engagement, Sierra Leone ratified five multilateral environmental agreements, Tanzania developed a rapid response manual for prosecuting wildlife crime, and Antigua and Barbuda introduced a ban on plastic bags, among many other results.

We worked with more than 80 countries to help them assess the state of their natural environments. At the regional level, ministers meeting at the 8th “Environment for Europe” conference endorsed a Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy in the Pan-European region, also with our support.

Antigua & Barbuda says good riddance to plastic bags

Antigua & Barbuda says good riddance to plastic bags Photo: Flickr/zapmole756.

Antigua and Barbuda has long been synonymous with paradise. The twin-island nation’s pristine beaches and luxury resorts attract nearly a million visitors every year, fuelling a tourism industry that accounts for more than half of the country’s economic output.

But the “Land of 365 Beaches” has increasingly faced a pernicious threat, both to its utopic reputation and the health of its citizens: The plastic bag.

As of 2015, the country’s five major supermarket chains were going through nearly 50 million plastic bags every year, many of which ended up on the beaches and in the surrounding ocean.

Read Full Story

“The plastic bags had become a real menace,” said Richard Buoni, manager of Epicurean, the country’s largest supermarket chain. “Due to the high winds, they were continually clogging our drains, washing up on our beaches, and getting stuck in our trees and thorny cassie bushes. They blighted the place, and I could see as a business owner that it was affecting tourist perception of our island paradise.”

The situation became so critical that in early 2016 the Minister of Health and Environment Molwyn Joseph announced a blanket ban on plastic bags. UN Environment responded quickly, offering technical support and connecting the legislator from Antigua and Barbuda with experts from other countries.

There was widespread support for the ban from day one, thanks in large part to a government-led communications campaign. The government also provided everyone with a free non-disposable bag before the ban came into force on 1 July 2016.

“We still can’t quite believe how enthusiastically people responded to the ban,” said Andrea Jacobs, Attorney for the Department of Environment in Antigua. “It took less than one month to eliminate the bags completely and without a murmur of complaint - or even enforcement. We all immediately saw the value of ridding our island of the scourge of plastic bags.”

Antigua & Barbuda says good riddance to plastic bags Photo: Edmund Garman.

Business owners like Buoni have already seen real financial gains.

“Our business alone was responsible for generating about 11 million plastic bags a year, much of which ended up in our one overburdened landfill and littering our island. The bags were costing us around US$165,000 a year. We’ve been able to reinvest that money in recyclable cloth bags and in certain product lines which have created more value-for-money for our customers,” he said.

Buoni and others, encouraged by the sight of their pristine island in the wake of the ban, are now calling for more action to reduce pollution on the island, including banning styrofoam and non-biodegradable plastic bottles. The government, empowered by this momentum, is now reviewing and updating the country’s entire environmental management act in collaboration with UN Environment. A new generation of environmental laws is in the works.

More than 100 national and subnational governments around the world – from Bangladesh to Brazil, from Hawaii to Hong Kong – have taken similar measures, either banning plastic bags outright or requiring customers to pay for them. Collectively, these new laws could have an enormous impact on the global problem of marine pollution, as plastic bags are pervasive across the world’s oceans.

UN Environment is working with countries around the world to help them implement and strengthen the environmental laws that they need most – whether that means banning plastic bags, joining an international environmental convention, or adopting new regulations to protect their wildlife. In 2016 alone, 20 countries made progress in this regard with our assistance.

 

See how we performed on Environmental Governance in 2016...

Environmental governance comprises the rules, practices, policies and institutions that shape how humans interact with the environment. We work to strengthen institutions and improve environmental governance in three ways:

  • Improving coherence and leveraging synergies, where we aim to help the UN system and multilateral environmental agreements work together more coherently;
  • Strengthening laws and institutions, where we support national efforts to develop and enforce laws and strengthen institutions to achieve environmental objectives; and
  • Mainstreaming the environment into development, where we help countries integrate environmental sustainability into their development planning.

We met the majority 1 of our targets on environmental governance for 2016. Progress was also made in areas that do not result directly in meeting our indicator targets but are in response to resolutions of the UN Environment Assembly.

 

 

Improving coherence and leveraging synergies

In a complex international context where a multitude of actors work on issues that affect the environment, we promote coherence and synergy for a more consistent and efficient approach.

In 2016, we saw an increase in the number of joint initiatives to handle environmental issues in a coordinated manner across the UN system and by multilateral environmental agreements. Developments at both the global and regional levels are promoting a more coordinated response from the UN system to the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals. Interagency mechanisms include the Environment Management Group and the United Nations Development Group 2. Three new initiatives were launched in 2016, thus meeting our target for the year. Further progress has occurred in the context of ongoing joint initiatives. 3

THE MULTILATERAL SYSTEM MOVES TO GREATER COHERENCE

UN system-wide framework on environmental strategies

In this framework adopted by the Environment Management Group, 48 agencies align their strategies on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 

Environmental sustainability peer reviews

A new set of UN entities’ peer reviews on environmental management was launched. We collaborated with the World Bank and the International Civil Aviation Authority to conduct an environmental review of the International Monetary Fund headquarters.

Working group on resource-efficient growth.

A Thematic Working Group on resource-efficient growth was established under the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordination Mechanism. Similar initiatives are taking place in other regions.

In 2016, we saw an increase in the number of collaborative arrangements between UN Environment and the secretariats of multilateral environmental agreements, thus resulting in increased coherence and synergy between the organizations. 4 Three new arrangements were established, thus exceeding the target of two for the year.

COLLABORATION WITH MULTILATERAL ENVIRONMENTAL AGREEMENT BODIES INCREASE

Wetlands

We agreed to collaborate strategically with the Ramsar Convention to support the future of wetlands.

National biodiversity synergies

We worked to enhance synergies among biodiversity-related agreements and the Sustainable Development Goals in Bahrain, Iran, Lao PDR, Palestine, Sri Lanka and Thailand. This occurred in the context of our support to countries on revising their national strategies and action plans on biodiversity.

Climate and law

We agreed to collaborate with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Commonwealth Secretariat on a climate change law toolkit to support national implementation.

In 2016, we also saw that the environment was increasingly embedded in actions to implement the 2030 Agenda. Tangible results were achieved with our support in three cases at the country level, and one in the United Nations context. 5

ENVIRONMENT AND THE 2030 AGENDA

United Nations

Guide to UN Country Teams

A Common approach to the Sustainable Development Goals was reflected in the UN Development Group’s guidance document on Mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Reference Guide to UN Country Teams.

Countries

Azerbaijan

A National Coordination Council on Sustainable Development was established as a commitment to working towards the effective implementation of the Goals.

 

Mongolia

Data assessment findings were integrated into Mongolia’s National Statistics Office Plan to strengthen data capacity for the Goals.

 

Myanmar

Green economy, green growth and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda were linked through the incorporation of an integrated approach into Myanmar's plan on green economy and growth.

With the objective of greening the operations of the entire UN system, we exceeded our target for 2016, with five additional entities adopting environmental management systems or emission reductions strategies, resulting in a total of 31.

GREENING UN OPERATIONS

Entity Measure

Brindisi Global Service Centre

ISO 14001 certification

International Labour Organization

New Environmental Management System

United Nations Department of Field Support

Environment strategy

World Bank

New strategic plan on corporate responsibility

UNOPS

ISO 14001 for entire agency

In 2016, we saw three other UN bodies take up policy issues or approaches emerging from our policy advice, exceeding our expected target of two.6 More systematic data collation and analysis will be undertaken at the end of the biennium for more thorough data on this indicator.

UPTAKE BY THE UN SYSTEM

Human Rights Council Resolution 31/L.10 on Human Rights and Environment

The Resolution encourages states to “adopt an effective normative framework for the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment” and welcomes our support to the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment.

UN General Assembly Resolution 71/19 on Cooperation between the United Nations and INTERPOL

The Resolution calls for strengthened cooperation in combating transnational crime, including crimes that affect the environment, such as illicit trafficking in wildlife.

With several new indicators in the 2016-17 Programme of Work that measure the uptake of environmental approaches, there is a need for more systematic data collection, including in collaboration with other UN agencies. Collaborative endeavours across UN agencies as well as a stronger engagement at the regional level will contribute to these efforts, but we also need greater investment in monitoring. More systematic efforts are also required to ensure that our policy issues and approaches are taken up by other bodies. The role of the United Nations Environment Assembly is key in this regard.

More broadly, a key challenge is to ensure policy coherence across sectors as well as across governance levels. To that end, we need to invest more in supporting countries to link the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and multilateral environmental agreements, and we need to help countries translate global goals into their national contexts.

 

Strengthening Laws and Institutions

Strong environmental rule of law is the bedrock of environmental governance and a cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We build national capacities to develop and enforce laws and strengthen institutions to achieve environmental objectives.

In 2016, countries took steps to strengthen their legal or institutional measures to improve implementation of international environmental goals. This resulted in nine legal and institutional measures and three countries taking measures for enhanced compliance, 7 exceeding the programme of work target and bringing the total of such measures to 25. Three more partnerships and initiatives with major groups and stakeholders were established in 2016 to advance environmental law development and implementation, also exceeding the target.

 

PROGRESS AT THE NATIONAL, REGIONAL AND GLOBAL LEVELS

Geographic scope

Measure

Global

Member States led process to support the implementation of the Montevideo Programme launched.

Caspian Sea

The Aktau Protocol on addressing oil pollution incidents under the Tehran Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea entered into force.

Angola

Ratified the Nagoya Protocol on benefit sharing.

Antigua and Barbuda

Introduced regulations for plastic waste.

Lao PDR

Enhanced its Material Transfer Agreement, incorporating Nagoya Protocol principles.

Malawi

Sentencing guidelines.

Myanmar

Enhanced its Memorandum of Agreement by the Biotechnology Research Department.

Sierra Leone

Ratified five multilateral environmental agreements.

Togo

Ratified the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing.

Viet Nam

Developed an agreement to operationalize its regime on Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources.

Tanzania

Developed a rapid response manual for prosecuting wildlife crimes.

Viet Nam

Developed an enforcement manual to guide enforcement officers to impose legal liabilities to violators including criminal sanctions under Viet Nam’s new Penal Code.

NEW PARTNERSHIPS

Georgetown Law Center

Established a Global Environmental and Sustainability Law Fellows Programme.

Legal Response Initiaitve

Strategic collaboration on the progressive development of climate change legislation.

Interpol

Strategic collaboration to address environmental crime.

One of our key challenges is how to meet countries’ individual needs, considering the limited resources available, while at the same ensuring that our support helps to tackle global problems. Our range of partnerships needs to be expanded to further upscale successful initiatives. The leadership of individual member states is key to promoting South-South cooperation and promoting regional or sub-regional efforts to tackle environmental issues. We also need to more fully harness our internal expertise and that of our partners to deliver our programmes in a more integrated way.

 

Mainstreaming the Environment into Development

We assist countries to mainstream environmental sustainability objectives into national and regional development policies and plans, which is essential to achieving sustainable development.

In 2016, 16 countries or groups of countries 8 finalized their UN Development Assistance Frameworks and now fully integrate environmental priorities in these plans, exceeding 9 the target. Through our Regional Offices, we also provided some level of support to over 80 countries on the subject of environmental data, training of country teams, support in strategic planning and programme implementation.

The Poverty Environment Initiative, a programme we manage jointly with the UN Development Programme, continued to work in 24 countries to promote a closer association between poverty reduction and environmental objectives. A new indicator was agreed as part of the 2016-17 Programme of Work, measuring countries’ overall progress in integrating these two objectives. 10 On this basis, five countries 11 advanced at least one level in the measurement framework, slightly below the target of six. This is a provisional result, due to the complexity of the indicator, which requires extensive data analysis and comparisons.

We promoted political dialogue and cooperation through ministerial forums and related mechanisms, resulting in strong incorporation of environmental objectives and in exceeding the indicator.

PROGRESS IN REGIONAL FORUMS 12

African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) - sixth special session

Cairo Declaration. Call for the sustainable and optimal management of Africa’s natural capital as a gateway to contributing to the implementation of the 2030

Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean  

Cartagena Declaration. Commitment to accelerate collective action on climate change and air quality to safe management of chemicals

8th “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference

Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E) endorsing the Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy in the Pan-European region. Commitment to accelerate action to combat air pollution.

South Asia Cooperative Environment Programme

Establishment of South Asia Forum of Sustainable Consumption and production to mainstream Sustainable Consumption and Production into development planning at sub-regional and national levels.

Challenges in this area relate to the challenges highlighted under the section on coherence and synergies. Our work to support the integration of environment into national and regional policy, planning and political processes needs to go alongside other international efforts to promote coherence. There is an opportunity to better integrate the work of the Poverty Environment Initiative with other support we provide, including on legal and policy measures.

 

Financial Status

 


1 For the following indicator, “Increased number of countries that advance by at least one level in the UN Environment results measurement framework for assessing public sector engagement in strengthening and applying financial planning instruments for pro poor growth and environmental sustainability, as a result of UN Environment support” (EA(c)(ii)), the result is preliminary, as further analysis is needed of country data in order to define the exact progress against the target.

2 The Environment Management Group is the UN-wide system coordination body on the environment, for which UN Environment provides the secretariat and chairmanship.

3 These results are in support of UNEA Resolution 2/5, Delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

4 These results are in support of UNEA Resolutions 2/17 (Enhancing the work of UN Environment in facilitating cooperation, collaboration and synergies among biodiversity-related conventions) and 2/18 (Relationship between UN Environment and the multilateral environmental agreements for which it provides the secretariat).

5 These results are in support of UNEA Resolution 2/5 Delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

6 These results are in support of UNEA Resolutions 2/14 Illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products and 2/19 Midterm review of the Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law (Montevideo Programme IV).

7 These results are in support of UNEA Resolutions 2/5, 2/11 (Marine plastic litter and microplastics), 2/14 (Illegal trade in wildlife), 2/17, 2/19 and 2/25 (Application of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development in the Latin America and Caribbean Region).

8 Caribbean countries, Bangladesh, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Mongolia, Montenegro, Panama, Peru, Syrian Arab Republic, and Tanzania.

9 While we systematically support countries to integrate environmental objectives in their national plans, the time of finalization and signature of the plans varies. This results at times in under-performing or over-performing with respect to the indicator, which was the case during this reporting period. Besides the actual finalization of the plans, support provided to country teams in terms of data provision and capacities strengthening is key to promoting the importance of the environment as part of UN planning processes.

10 The indicator measures the number of countries that advance by at least one level in our results measurement framework for assessing public sector engagement in strengthening and applying financial planning instruments for pro-poor growth and environmental sustainability, as a result of our support.

11 Bangladesh, Lao PDR, Malawi, and the Philippines.

12 These results are in support of UNEA Resolution 2/2 Role and functions of the regional forums of ministers of environment and environment authorities.

Our work on: Chemicals and Waste

Our work on Chemicals and Waste Ensuring sound management
of chemicals & waste

Scroll
Photo: Reuters.

In our work on chemicals and waste, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • The enabling environment, where we support countries to have the policies and institutional capacity to manage chemicals and waste soundly;
  • Chemicals, where we help countries and other stakeholders implement sound chemicals management and the related multilateral environmental agreements; and
  • Waste, where we help countries and other stakeholders implement sound waste management and the related multilateral environmental agreements.

By the end of 2016, with our assistance, 15 countries had ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, meaning that, as of 1 January 2017, only 15 additional ratifications were needed to ensure the Convention’s early entry into force. Also in 2016, seven countries reported putting in place policies to control lead in paint, raising the global total to 66.

Over the course of the year, three governments, nine businesses and industries, and one civil society organization addressed priority chemical issues with our support. The International Olympic Committee used certified gold in the production of Olympic Laurels for the Olympic Games in Rio, with support from the UN Environment-led Global Mercury Partnership.

In 2016, one government, two private companies, and three civil society organizations addressed priority waste issues with our help. Following Nepal's devastating earthquake in 2015, we supported the government in the development of a strategy to manage almost 4 million tons of earthquake debris. We also helped the country create a framework for sustainable and resource-efficient reconstruction.

In 2016, with our assistance, 15 countries ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury. As a result a total of 35 countries had ratified the convention as of the end of the year. As at the first of January, only 15 more ratifications are needed in 2017 to reach the total of 50 countries required for the Convention’s early entry into force. Two countries that had ratified in late 2015 were not captured in the 2015 annual programme performance report. It is expected that the First Conference of the Parties will be convened in Geneva in September 2017.

Penang goes Green

Penang goes Green Photo: Flickr / Stratman2.

The Taman Pandan Apartments in Penang’s Butterworth neighbourhood might appear unremarkable from the outside, but the residents of these three high-rise buildings are at the forefront of a revolution in the city’s approach to waste.

In 2004, Taman Pandan’s residents started composting their food waste, using a simple shed provided by the Penang State Government. They have since started collecting their recyclable goods and selling them to a recycling agent, raising money for charity as well as the maintenance of their apartments. And in 2014, Taman Pandan adopted a “zero waste” policy, in which they aim to send no more waste to the city’s landfill.

Local leaders are hoping to replicate the Taman Pandan approach across the city, and UN Environment helping them do it. Since 2005, our International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) has supported Penang’s efforts to green the city – helping the local government access financing, connect with private sector partners, and develop sound waste management policies, among other activities. These efforts have empowered Penang to tackle its pollution challenges, and helped the city become a regional leader in “green” urban development.

Read Full Story

But much is left to be done. Penang State, which has a population of 1.8 million, generates 1,800 tonnes of waste every day. The city’s 33-hectare Pulau Burong Landfill is expected to last another three years. An extension could give it another decade of use; after that, a new site will be needed.

With that deadline on the horizon, Penang has made a big bet on composting. On 1 June 2016, the local government began requiring Penang residents to separate their waste at source. And the city has installed Bio-Regen Food Processing machines at 22 sites across the region, with more installations planned. The machines, which are compact, odourless, and attract no vermin, grind organic waste with water and microbial solution to create a bio-liquid soil enhancer, which can be used in farming. A private sector partner, Bio-Regen Photonics, has been engaged to manage the collection.

Solid Waste Management in Penang, Malaysia

Solid Waste Management in Penang, Malaysia

Given that between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of Penang’s waste is organic material, a large-scale composting programme could significantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill. From the local government’s perspective, composting will lower the cost of transporting waste and reduce the fees owed to landfill managers. It could also lower the amount of waste that ends up in the city’s waterways, where it pollutes drinking water.

The global climate will benefit as well. When food waste is mixed with other landfill wastes, the resulting gases are composed of more than 50 per cent methane, a greenhouse gas whose effect on the climate is 84 times more potent than that of carbon dioxide. Penang’s landfill currently emits 900,000 kg of methane each month – the equivalent, from a climate perspective, of burning nearly 11,000 metric tons of coal. In contrast, the Bio-Regen machines produce negligible amounts of greenhouse gases.

In the five years since the city began collecting compost, nearly 800 metric tons of food and organic waste have been diverted from the landfill. That translates into savings of more than US$23,305 in tipping fees, as well as 717 tons of averted greenhouse gas emissions.

And those are just the results for a single city. At the global level, the impacts of composting could be enormous. Composting half of all organic waste produced in the developing world would cut global greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent and increase the lifespan of landfills by 25 per cent. That’s why we are working with nearly 50 cities around the world to help them better manage their organic waste.

 

See how we performed on Chemicals and Waste in 2016...

In our work on chemicals and waste, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • The enabling environment, where we support countries to have the policies and institutional capacity to manage chemicals and waste soundly;
  • Chemicals, where we help countries and other stakeholders implement sound chemicals management and the related multilateral environmental agreements; and
  • Waste, where we help countries and other stakeholders implement sound waste management and the related multilateral environmental agreements.

Our work on chemicals and waste achieved several but not all of our targets for 2016. Some indicators set for this biennium had a higher level of ambition than proved feasible. While for these indicators an exponential increase was foreseen (as expressed in the targets in the organization’s programme of work), in reality progress is occurring in a more linear fashion. Overall, the greatest progress has been made on ratifications of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and country decisions to adopt legislation to phase out lead in paint.

 

 

The Enabling Environment

Our foundational work on chemicals and waste focuses on helping countries create an enabling national policy environment that promotes sound chemicals and waste management. Such policies include those that would enable better management of different types of chemicals, such as mercury, lead, persistent organic pollutants and ozone-depleting substances. It also includes policies that help countries put in place market-based incentives for better management of chemicals.

We use three indicators to track our progress in this work: (1) the number of countries reporting the adoption of policies for the sound management of chemicals and waste, with our assistance; (2) the number of countries reporting the use of economic and market-based incentives and business policies and practices that promote the sound management of chemicals and waste, with our assistance; and (3) the number of countries reporting the use of industry reporting schemes that promote the take-up of sound chemicals and waste, with our assistance.

In 2016, with our assistance, 15 countries 1 ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury. As a result a total of 35 countries had ratified the convention as of the end of the year. As at the first of January, only 15 more ratifications are needed in 2017 to reach the total of 50 countries required for the Convention’s early entry into force. Two countries that had ratified in late 2015 were not captured in the 2015 annual programme performance report. 2 It is expected that the First Conference of the Parties will be convened in Geneva in September 2017. Also in 2016, seven additional countries 3 reported they had put in place policies to control lead in paint, raising the global total to 66 countries. With this latter result, we met our 2016 target for the unit of measure on the adoption of policies for the sound management of chemicals and waste, related to emerging issues under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, SAICM, under the first indicator.

 

Progress under indicator 2 was lagging, however, as no additional countries reported the use of economic and market-based incentives and business policies and practices in 2016. For us to hit this target in the future, we will need to work closer with governments to scale up country-level action and report on sound business policies and the use of incentives.

In 2016, the enabling environment for sound management of chemicals and waste saw other major breakthroughs with UN Environment support that will lead to future significant progress on our indicators in this field of work.

 

Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol

In October 2016, the parties to the Montreal Protocol reached a monumental deal in Kigali, Rwanda to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), greenhouse gases used in many sectors including refrigerators, air conditioning and aerosol sprays.

Countries are now starting to ratify the amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This is particularly important as developed countries have agreed to limit their HFC use by 10 per cent from 2019 onwards, while many developing countries have committed to freeze their HFCs levels in 2024, and some in 2028.

Special Programme on Institutional Strengthening at the National Level

In June 2014, the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted the terms of reference for the Special Programme to support national institutional strengthening for the implementation of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, the Minamata Convention, and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management. A voluntary trust fund was established to support the implementation of the Special Programme.

In October 2016, the Special Programme’s Executive Board, its decision-making body, approved seven projects during the first and pilot round of applications, amounting to US$1.75 million. The Board took into consideration factors such as regional balance and special needs of least-developed countries and small island developing states. The first series of selected projects will be carried out in Argentina, Benin, the Dominican Republic, Iraq, Kyrgyz Republic, Tanzania and Ukraine. By December 2016, pledges and contributions to the Special Programme’s Trust Fund and the Secretariat had reached US$16 million.

Chemicals

In 2016, we aimed to increase the number of governments, businesses and industries, and civil society stakeholders using our risk assessment and management tools to address priority chemical issues. Over the course of the year, three governments, nine businesses and industries, and one civil society organization addressed priority chemical issues with our support.

Results in this area have shown a linear increase over time, although an exponential increase was expected, as expressed in our targets. Further expanding our partnerships with the private sector and other stakeholders to ensure the uptake of our scientific and technical knowledge and tools will be crucial to moving the needle closer to the targets.

 

 

Government progress: Assessing and managing risk

Three national and local governments addressed priority chemical issues, including their obligations under related multilateral environmental agreements, through the use of our risk assessment and management tools. Bosnia and Herzegovina developed inventories of three persistent organic pollutants with our guidance. The Government of São Paulo in Brazil, on the other hand, adopted a policy on mercury-free medical devices, while Yemen updated its national implementation plan on persistent organic pollutants, both using our tools and guidance.

 

Private sector progress: Companies phase out mercury

Six private companies 4 reported in 2016 the closure of their chlor-alkali plants that use mercury, applying the guidance produced by the World Chlorine Council under the UN Environment-led Global Mercury Partnership. The chlor-alkali technology is an industrial process that produces chlorine and caustic soda. It makes use of mercury to make these chemical commodities. Phase out of those mercury technologies is urgently needed.

 

Civil society progress: The Rio Olympics use certified gold

Certified gold was used in the production of new Olympic Laurels for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. These new trophies consisted of a laurel wreath and Olympic rings made of Fairmined Gold from responsible artisanal and small-scale mining organizations in Colombia and Peru. Both the Global Mercury Partnership and the Minamata Convention on Mercury encourage the use of market-based certification mechanisms like Fairmined as a way to foster reductions in mercury use in artisanal gold mining and enhance miners’ livelihoods. The Alliance for Responsible Mining, which administers the Fairmined certification, is an active member of UN Environment’s Global Mercury Partnership.

 

Waste

We work with governments, businesses and industries, and civil society organizations to help them use innovative tools and methodologies to address priority waste issues. In 2016, one government, two private companies, and three civil society organizations began addressing priority waste issues with our help, bringing the total number of governments doing so to 23, businesses to 26, and civil society organizations to 28.

The 2016 target for civil society organizations has been met, while the results for the business and industry sector are just one point below target. The target for governments, however, has not followed the exponential increase that was expected four years ago. Here, progress has been slow and linear. It appears that we need to considerably scale up our work with national and local governments to ensure that they increasingly use our tools and guidance to inform and update their waste management strategies. This could be done by further leveraging our work through alliances like the Global Waste Management Partnership, mobilizing resources for exemplary country cases (that can encourage neighbours to make changes), and raising awareness by praising successful countries as “champions of sound waste management and prevention”.

 

 

Government progress: Post-earthquake support in Nepal

In 2016, one year after a massive earthquake destroyed large parts of Nepal, we supported the Nepali Government in the development of a comprehensive strategy for managing almost 4 million tons of earthquake debris. The strategy was part of a sustainable post-disaster recovery process and addressed actions required at both national and sub-national levels. With our support, the Nepali Government was able to apply best practices for waste management, including of hazardous materials, and create a framework for sustainable and resource-efficient reconstruction efforts.

 

Business progress: Agricultural biomass and sustainable investment

In 2016 the Sanghar Sugar Mill in Pakistan opened a demonstration site for converting waste agricultural biomass into energy and compost through its biogas plant, with our support. Today, the plant processes 400 kg of agricultural waste every day, generating 50 cubic meters of biogas, 200 kg of liquefied fertilizer and 150 kg of solid fertilizer. Agricultural biomass waste can substantially displace fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide renewable energy to some 1.6 billion people in developing countries.

Also in 2016, NN Investment Partners, the asset manager of NN Group N.V. in the Netherlands, used the Global Waste Management Outlook, a joint product of UN Environment and the International Solid Waste Association, to inform their waste management investments in Europe, providing a sustainable example for other investors to follow.

 

Civil society progress: Informing strategies and curricula

In 2016, the waste management charity WasteAid UK, which shares recycling skills for lasting change, used the Global Waste Management Outlook to inform its three-year strategy. Similarly, Imperial College London used the report as an evidence-based call to action to address the global waste management challenge.

With the aim of training top professionals (engineers and non-engineers) in the waste management industry, in 2016 Griffith University in Australia joined other universities in integrating our waste management curriculum materials into its education and training programmes. This builds upon the work of the academic consortium that UN Environment and our academic partners established for the elaboration of a waste management curriculum for universities worldwide.

 

Financial Status

 


1 Antigua and Barbuda, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, China, Ecuador, Gambia, Japan, Mali, Peru, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Switzerland, and Zambia.

2 Jordan and Kuwait.

3 Armenia, Iceland, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zimbabwe.

4 Atul Ltd. Valsad (India), Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd. (India), Oltchim S.A. Ramnicu Vlacea (Romania), PCC Rokita S.A. Brzeg (Poland), PPChemicals (Malaysia), and Química del Cinca S.A. (Spain).

Our work on: Resource Efficiency

Our work on Resource Efficiency Accelerating the transition
to sustainable societies

Scroll
Photo: Reuters.

In our work on resource efficiency, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • Enabling policy environment, where we help countries make the transition to inclusive green economies;
  • Sectors and supply, where we work with governments, businesses and other stakeholders to make global supply chains more sustainable; and
  • Lifestyles and consumption, where we empower countries, businesses, civil society and individuals to live and consume sustainably.

In 2016, with our support, ten countries and one region adopted or started to implement green economy or sustainable consumption and production plans, exceeding our target. This work is key to our efforts to promote a global transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive economy.

In our work on sustainable supply chains, we focus on four key sectors: finance, tourism, buildings and construction, and food systems as well as small and medium enterprises. In 2016, with our support, 27 countries, institutions and businesses took concrete steps to make those sectors more sustainable. Using our analytical tools, for example, ten hotels in Morocco were able to earn the national eco-tourism certificate. Our Eco-Innovation project worked with 12 companies – from a chemicals company in Egypt to an agri-food business in Viet Nam – to help them examine their value chains and develop new and sustainable business strategies or models.

In 2016, we also worked with five countries to help them make their government purchases more sustainable. This is a powerful way to stimulate demand for sustainable products and services.

Galvanizing Change

Galvanizing Change Photo: Shutterstock

Sometimes all you need is a change in perspective.

For more than 20 years, Galco S.A.S., a Colombian metal-mechanical company, has provided services and products to construction companies, energy producers, auto manufacturers and other clients. One of their services is hot-dip galvanization, the process of immersing iron or steel in a bath of molten zinc, thus giving the metal a protective coat. Pieces that are treated in this way last longer and are more resistant to corrosion.

Read Full Story

“Before we started working with UN Environment, we saw and promoted [galvanization] as something that provided only economic benefits to our customers”, says Sandro Ospina, the director of Galco’s galvanization unit. “Working with UN Environment has allowed us to identify the environmental and social benefits. Now, we have started to offer the service from a perspective of sustainability.”

That revelation was the result of Galco’s partnership with UN Environment’s Eco-Innovation Project, which is working with companies and governments in developing and emerging economies around the world. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve resource efficiency in the business sector. This falls under UN Environment’s broader aim of promoting a global shift towards sustainable patterns of consumption and production.

For Galco, the benefits of the partnership were substantial. Working with UN Environment and the Colombian National Cleaner Production Center (NCPC), the project´s local implementing partner, the company examined its entire production process to identify “sustainability hotspots” – areas where small adjustments could deliver big gains in terms of sustainability.

Using the results of this analysis, Galco has developed two new business models. The first is focused on providing long-lasting corrosion protection services for large metallic structures. Implementing this new model will require a significant capital investment, but it will increase the company’s production capacity by up to 200 per cent, and thus pay for itself in less than five years. Related changes in production will also see the company reduce its zinc consumption by up to 12 per cent, saving money and reducing environmental impacts.

The second model has seen the company develop a new service that extends the lifetime of the pickling solutions used in electroplating services. This delivers significant environmental benefits, including a 75 per cent reduction in hydrochloric acid consumption, a 20 per cent reduction in water consumption, and a 50 per cent cut in wastewater generation. The new service should bring Galco an extra $55,040 in revenue in the first year alone, against the company’s total annual sales of $494,140. Even greater profits are expected in the years ahead.

Galco’s new business models will also benefit the local community by reducing hazardous discharges, creating longer-lasting infrastructure, and creating jobs to support the new service line.

Indeed, the business case for eco-innovation will only grow stronger as regulations tighten, reputational pressures increase, and natural resources become ever more scarce. That’s why UN Environment is working with 45 companies around the world – from a chemicals company in Egypt to an agri-food business in Viet Nam – to help them examine their value chains and develop new and sustainable business strategies. And it’s why we’re working with policymakers in Colombia, Kenya, Peru, and Sri Lanka, among other countries, to help them create a policy environment that supports eco-innovation.

As Galco can attest, the quest for sustainability can be a rich source of innovation, and one that fuels measurable – and green – growth.

 

See how we performed on Resource Efficiency in 2016...

In our work on resource efficiency, we focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • Enabling policy environment, where we help countries make the transition to inclusive green economies;
  • Sectors and supply, where we work with governments, businesses and other stakeholders to make global supply chains more sustainable; and
  • Lifestyles and consumption, where we empower countries, businesses, civil society and individuals to live and consume sustainably.

We met or exceeded most of our targets for December 2016.

 

 

Enabling Policy Environment

We support countries and regions to transition to an inclusive green economy and adopt sustainable consumption and production action plans at national and sub-national levels. Inclusive green economies are defined as low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive economies that create decent jobs and enhance human well-being. Country assessments, planning and implementation tools and knowledge platforms enable policymakers and businesses to actively pursue inclusive green economy pathways.

In 2016, with our support, ten countries and one region 1 adopted and/or started implementing green economy policies and sustainable consumption and production actions plans, exceeding our target for 2016. This brings the total to 39 countries, nine cities, and one region 2 that have adopted and/or started the implementation of sustainable consumption and production and green economy pathways since 2011 with our support.

 

 

MORE COUNTRIES AND CITIES ADOPT POLICIES FOR GREENER ECONOMIES

Country/Region Result

Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia

These countries have adopted Sustainable Consumption and Production National Action Plans (SCP NAP) with our support and that of the EU-funded SWITCH Med Programme.

Cambodia

Cambodia has mainstreamed Sustainable Consumption and Production into its new national environmental law that we supported in collaboration with the UN Development Programme.

Belarus

The National Green Economy Action Plan for the Republic of Belarus (2016-2020) was approved by the Council of Ministers in December 2016, with our support.

Colombia

A National Development Plan with a chapter on green growth has been formulated with our support; it was subsequently adopted.

Asia-Pacific Region

Asia-Pacific countries have adopted a regional Sustainable Consumption and Production Roadmap for 2016-2018.

To achieve these results, we delivered the following assessments, tools and services to countries in 2016:

In 2016, the International Resource Panel produced a number of key resource assessments that provide countries with scientific evidence on resource efficiency. The assessments include the following: Options for Decoupling Economic Growth from Water Use and Water Pollution 3; Unlocking the Sustainable Potential of Land Resources: Evaluation Systems, Strategies and Tools 4; Food Systems and Natural Resources 5; and Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity 6. Based on a request from the G7, the Panel also issued a summary report titled Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications 7.

The SWITCH projects have assisted 13 countries 8 to develop Sustainable Consumption and Production Actions plans with nine countries 9 already engaged in their implementation. The Asia-Pacific Region adopted a Sustainable Consumption and Production Roadmap that will guide implementation across the region. Belarus adopted a National Green Economy Action Plan with our support and Cambodia mainstreamed sustainable consumption and production into their environmental code. Mauritius and Mongolia have received support from the Partnership for Action on Green Economy in the formulation and adoption of Green Economy development plans.

 

Sectors and Supply

At the core of our work is the enhancement of the capacity of governments, businesses and other stakeholders to adopt sustainable production and management practices in global supply chains in the following sectors: building and construction, food and agriculture, finance and tourism. In 2016, with our support, 27 countries, institutions and businesses improved management practices or sectoral strategies in these sectors. That brings the total number of stakeholders reporting improved management practices and the use of more resource-efficient tools and instruments in sectoral policies to 249, exceeding the target of 242.

MORE COUNTRIES AND BUSINESSES ADOPT PRACTICES TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY AND SUSTAINABILITY

Country/City Sector/Area of support Result

Egypt, Peru, Viet Nam

Eco-innovation, Small and Medium Enterprises

Eco-innovation was included in national development policies or Sustainable Consumption and Production National Action Plans.

France

Sustainability reporting

France approved legislation for disclosure requirements of certain greenhouse gas emissions.

Morocco (Marrakech)

Tourism

We assisted 10 hotels (Small and Medium Enterprises) to obtain the national eco-tourism certificate.

Various

Eco-innovation

12 companies have implemented new business strategies and business models.

Zambia

Sustainable Buildings and Construction

Sustainable housing guidelines have been approved.

These results were delivered through the use of the following supporting products and services:

The tourism industry was supported with analytical tools to calculate environmental performance through a set of indicators covering water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, consumption of biological products and waste generation. Our eco-innovation methodology enabled companies to adopt new business strategies and business models, as well as implement operational changes that affect their supply chains.

 

Lifestyles and Consumption

We aim to provide enabling conditions for the promotion of sustainable consumption choices and lifestyles. Progress on this front is demonstrated by the number of public and private sector institutions that put in place policies and measures that are conducive to more sustainable consumption patterns. Supporting sustainable public procurement is one way to stimulate demand for, and supply of, sustainable products. In 2016, we supported five countries 10 on sustainable public procurement. Three of those countries 11 are developing or implementing sustainable public procurement action plans in close coordination with the relevant 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production.

 

 

With our support, ten hotels in Morocco 12 have applied life cycle-based approaches and tools to label their enterprises according to their environmental impact. In a next step, these hotels will develop action plans to further improve their sustainability performance.

COMPANIES INCREASINGLY ADOPT LIFE CYCLE APPOACHES TO IMPROVE COMPETITIVENESS

City, Country Result

Marrakech, Morocco

A methodology to calculate and communicate the environmental impacts of hotels through a sustainability label that was previously rolled out in France has been successfully applied to 10 pilot hotels in Morocco. These hotels have successfully applied the methodology based on life-cycle principles. They have been certified by the Ministry of Tourism of Morocco.

Education and awareness-raising are important enabling conditions for more sustainable lifestyles. In 2016, we supported activities that catalysed the engagement of six stakeholders in the promotion of sustainable lifestyles, bringing the total to 34 stakeholders, missing the December 2016 target of 38.

These results were delivered through the use of the following supporting products and services:

We provided analytical tools and methodologies to enable small and medium enterprises in Morocco to measure their environmental impact based on life-cycle principles. Three countries 13 were provided with policy support and have formulated and adopted sustainable public procurement policies.

 

Financial Status

 


1 Countries: Algeria, Belarus, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia. Regions: Asia-Pacific 2016-2018 Roadmap on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP).

2 Countries: Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Dominica, Egypt, Finland, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Palestine, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saint-Lucia, Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Viet Nam and Zambia; Cities: Baku (Icheri Sheher), Azerbaijan; Kampot, Cambodia; Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, Ethiopia; Eco Town Penang, Malaysia; Balti, Moldova; Pathum Thani, Thailand; Vinnystsia, Ukraine; Da Nang, Viet Nam. Regions: Asia-Pacific 2016-2018 Roadmap on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP).

3 http://apps.unep.org/publications/index.php?option=com_pub&task=download&file=012014_en

4 http://apps.unep.org/publications/index.php?option=com_pub&task=download&file=012176_en

5 http://apps.unep.org/publications/index.php?option=com_pub&task=download&file=012067_en

6 http://unep.org/documents/irp/16-00271_LW_GlobalMaterialFlowsUNE_SUMMARY_FINAL_160701.pdf

7 http://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/7585/G9Resourcereport%20LWRES-3.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

8 Algeria, Bhutan, China, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Vietnam.

9 Bhutan, China, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Palestine, and Vietnam.

10 Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Morocco, and Togo.

11 Brazil, Ecuador, Morocco. (N.B. Please note that Brazil has not been included in the indicator count since the country has already been counted in 2015 for the development of a national life-cycle-assessment database, i.e. an activity that is also captured under this indicator. Hence, only Ecuador and Morocco have been included in the indicator count.)

12 Please note that the ten hotels have also been counted against indicator EA b) since they not only adopted more sustainable management practices but also applied the life-cycle approach to their sustainability reporting. This result emerged from collaboration between the sustainable tourism project and the life-cycle project/initiative that aims to mainstream life-cycle thinking and approaches throughout our projects.

13 Brazil, Ecuador, and Morocco.

Our work on: Environment Under Review

Our work on Environment Under Review Promoting evidence-based
decision-making

Scroll
Photo: Bruno Locatelli for CIFOR.

In our work to keep the environment under review, we focus on bridging the gap between the producers and users of environmental information, so that science can be better linked with policies. We focus on achieving results in three areas:

  • Assessments, where we support global, regional and national policymaking using environmental information accessible on open platforms;
  • Early warning, where we provide planning authorities with information on emerging environmental issues of global importance; and
  • Information management, where we strengthen the capacity of countries to generate, access, analyse, use and communicate environmental information and knowledge.

We are working with partners to coordinate global efforts to generate data on progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, we reported to the UN Secretary-General on six of the Goals’ indicators, where global data sets were available. We also joined hands with the UN Statistical Division, the regional economic commissions and other UN entities to help countries develop their capacity in environmental statistics and report on internationally agreed goals.

In 2016, we launched the world’s first Global Gender and Environment Outlook. We also published six regional environment outlooks, which are the building blocks of the next Global Environment Outlook, to be released in 2019.

In response to a 2016 stakeholder survey, the vast majority of respondents confirmed that they had accessed our environmental information. They mainly used the information to educate, provide guidance, and conduct analyses. In over 40 per cent of cases, stakeholders had used the information to influence policy.

A Line in the Sand

A Line in the Sand Photo: Andrew Robbo Roberts.

In the year 1960, the people living in and around the Kubuqi Desert in northern China had to contend with sand and dust storms for a total of nearly 100 days. Their homeland, the seventh largest desert in China, had grown increasingly degraded and dry, and their quality of life was suffering.

But over the last 25 years, the Kubuqi Ecological Restoration Project has made a major impact in the region. The project, led by the Chinese company Elion Resources Group, has used an innovative model of private-public-community investments to plant trees, shrubs and grasses on more than 5,000 square kilometers of desert land. A review of the project conducted by UN Environment found that the efforts had brought the frequency of sand and dust storms down to nearly 10 days per year, and substantially reduced the amount of related damage to homes and infrastructure.

Read Full Story

Major sand and dust storms have increasingly been appearing in the news, calling international attention to their destructive impacts on human health, farmland and infrastructure. In northern China alone, sand and dust storms caused nearly US$1 billion in economic losses between 2010 and 2013. In the face of such figures, a number of governments have called on the international community to take action.

In response, UN Environment, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, conducted the world’s first global assessment of sand and dust storms. The assessment, which was published in 2016, set out to answer three key questions: (1) Are dust storms getting worse? (2) Are these storms a result of human activity? and (3) What can we do about them?

“To protect against the harmful effects of sand and dust storms, we need to understand what causes these events,” says Gemma Shepherd of UN Environment, lead author of the report. “That’s why this first global assessment is so critical: It gives us the scientific grounding we need to develop strong policies and take effective action.”

Understanding where dust comes from and how it’s changing is key to developing an effective response. Most dust from the Sahara – the single biggest global source – is natural, whereas the dust that originates in the southern Sahel is overwhelmingly anthropogenic, mainly coming from farming and grazing activities. In many regions, the situation is getting worse: Global dust emissions have increased by between 25 per cent and 50 per cent over the last century due to changes in the climate and the way we use our land.

Because 75 per cent of the world’s dust comes from natural areas, the priority in the short- to medium-term is to reduce the negative impacts of dust storms. Early warning systems at the national and regional level can be powerful tools in this regard. If properly executed, these systems can give people the chance to take cover and seal their doors, and allow farmers time to secure their livestock and farm equipment, or even harvest their crops if warned far enough in advance.

In the longer term, we need to work to prevent new sources of dust. That means promoting sustainable land and water management – on farms and rangelands, as well as in deserts and cities. As we have seen in the Kubuqi Desert, concerted efforts over many years can deliver real, measurable results.

 

See how we performed on Environment Under Review in 2016...

In our work to keep the environment under review, we focus on bridging the gap between the producers and users of environmental information, so that science can be better linked with policies. We provide results in the following areas:

  • Assessments, where we support global, regional and national policy-making using environmental information accessible on open platforms;
  • Early warning, where we provide planning authorities with information on emerging environmental issues of global importance; and
  • Information management, where we strengthen the capacity of countries to generate, access, analyse, use and communicate environmental information and knowledge.

We met some but not all of our 2016 targets for these activities. We are progressing with the Global Environment Outlook, identifying emerging issues and improving access to information and knowledge. However, we need to establish a robust approach whereby all UN agencies, countries and partners document how they are using this knowledge.

 

 

Assessment, early warning and information management

At the beginning of 2016, the whole world began implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As mandated in the UN Environment Assembly Resolution 2/5, we are fully engaged in this global effort. We are now deeply involved in generating data and statistics for monitoring progress 1 and have become the custodian agency for 26 of the Sustainable Development Goals indicators. We were also heavily involved in the preparation of the UN Secretary-General‘s annual report to the High-level Political Forum.

UN ENVIRONMENT STRENGTHENS MONITORING AND REPORTING ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL DIMENSION OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

COLLECT DATA ONCE, AND USE IT FOR MULTIPLE PURPOSES: ENVIRONMENT LIVE VISUALIZES THE SYNERGIES BETWEEN GOALS, TARGETS AND INDICATORS FOR MULTILATERAL AGREEMENTS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Click to enlarge image

The data reveal the extent to which countries are reporting on the use of protected areas to safeguard their biodiversity hotspots (SDG indicator 15.1.2).

Many countries face a tremendous challenge in meeting the data requirements for the Sustainable Development Goals. For some indicators global data flows already exist, but for others methodologies have yet to be developed and tested. We are helping countries identify areas where they are already tracking progress for another purpose, such as a multilateral environmental agreement. For instance, the data on protected area coverage collected for the Aichi Targets under the Convention for Biological Diversity help to track progress on Sustainable Development Goal 14. In Environment Live, we show the many relationships and synergies between the new Goals and existing agreements.2

Environment Live contains over 900 indicators and a similar number of maps. For 104 countries, we have environmental data that are disaggregated by gender. Environment Live is now valued as a global knowledge-sharing platform by many, including, for example, by the 8th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Georgia, June 2016.

To strengthen national reporting systems, 3 we have joined up with the UN Statistics Division, the UN regional economic commissions and key UN entities. Our joint work focuses on developing the capacity to deliver environmental statistics and report on the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2016, four more countries began using our tools for data collection, sharing and reporting, thus helping us to meet our 2016 indicator target for information capacity development.

We launched six regional Global Environment Outlooks and the first Global Gender and Environment Outlook at the 2016 UN Environment Assembly. Together these provide not only an assessment of the state of the environment but also a perspective on the importance of the social aspects of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda. More than 550 major media articles in 11 languages appeared on the topics in some 54 countries.

The regional assessments are the building blocks for the global assessment to be delivered at the 4th UN Environment Assembly in 2019. A progress report and information are being prepared to underpin the 3rd UN Environment Assembly.

 

We measure the utility of our assessments and data through the number of institutions and political fora and processes using them in their policy and decision-making. Our 2016 target to influence 15 additional UN agencies or multilateral environmental agreements with information from our outlooks has not yet been met, but we anticipate that relevant parties will be able to provide examples and further evidence of this. Going forward, we will need to put in place a more structured process to track the impacts of providing data and information on the environment.

Seven additional partnerships contributed data and indicators to our assessment processes, thus exceeding the December 2016 target. Our work on emerging environmental issues, communicated through the new Frontiers series, enabled stakeholders to consider these issues in their own processes. The global sand and dust storm assessment prepared for the 2nd UN Environment Assembly was used in consultations prior to the UN General Assembly; some countries have since used the assessment in their decision-making.

 

To support countries and stakeholders in using data on environmental issues and trends, we provided the following products and services in 2016:

  • Six Global Environment Outlook regional assessments delivered at the 2nd UN Environment Assembly.
  • Environment Live, the organization’s open online platform, was expanded and redesigned to improve people’s access to environmental data and information.
  • Assessments were published on sand and dust storms, Ugandan wetlands, African mountains, Kubuqi land degradation and desertification, emerging issues, gender and environment, emissions gap for climate change mitigation, transboundary waters, and loss and damage to ecosystems caused by climate change.
  • Technical support was provided to countries on data and environmental reporting, demonstrating the use of the Indicator Reporting Information System and Environment Live. 5
  • An air quality monitoring network was piloted in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Major groups and stakeholders were included in all major assessment processes.

 

We sent stakeholders a follow-up questionnaire on their involvement and access to environmental information to better understands their views and ideas for improvement. Nearly half (49 per cent) confirmed that they had accessed environmental information generated by UN Environment to a large or very large extent. The information was mainly used for education, as guidance, and to conduct analyses. In over 40 per cent of cases, stakeholders used the information to influence policy. Making information more accessible online will further enhance stakeholder engagement and the level of influence.

In summary, we are progressing with the Global Environment Outlook, a range of thematic assessments, delivering environmental indicators, and improving access to data and knowledge through Environment Live. At the same time, we are enabling more UN entities and other partners to use this information, but this needs to be better documented. We need to inspire everyone, including countries, citizens, and the private sector to participate in generating information, sharing their knowledge through open platforms, such as Environment Live, and using it to bring about social, economic and environmental benefits. We are therefore seeking champions among our Member States and other stakeholders, including data philanthropists, who can provide leadership in this new world of data sharing.

 

Financial Status

 


1 More information about the SDG indicators can be found on Environment Live (uneplive.unep.org/projects).

2 Previously known as UNEP Live (available at uneplive.unep.org/projects).

3 Supported to a large extent by the European Commission and the Global Environment Facility

4 GA71

5 http://uneplive.unep.org/

Budget Performance

UN Environment Budget Performance Annual Report 2016

Scroll
Photo: Shutterstock.

UN Environment’s projected overall budget for the 2016-2017 biennium was $683.6 million. This budget comprises the Environment Fund, Trust Funds and Earmarked Contributions, the Global Environment Facility, the Regular Budget of the UN, including UNSCEAR 1 and UN Development Account allocations, and Programme Support Costs.

The 2016 available resources for all funding sources amounted to $773.8 million,2 in comparison to the budgeted amount for the year of $338.8 million. It is important to understand what is meant by “available resources” under the UN Secretariat-wide new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, Umoja. Available resources for the Environment Fund, Regular Budget and Programme Support Costs are annual allocations. This is not the case for multi-year funding categories. Under Umoja, Trust Funds and Earmarked Contributions and GEF trust funds are set up as multi-year funds that do not have a fiscal year dimension to allow reporting their annual or biennial budgetary allocation. On the contrary, reporting on these funds occurs when they have been expended. Moreover, the funds become available for spending when relevant donor agreements are signed and the cash received.

UN Environment’s available resources in 2016 were higher than the projected budget

Similarly, “available resources” for multi-year funds categories reflect unspent balances from the prior year (i.e., 2015), as well as additional funds released in 2016 that are not necessarily to be spent in 2016. When donors contribute funds for multiple years, IPSAS, the accounting standards the UN uses, recognizes multi-year contribution as income in the year when the pledge is made.

Therefore, for those multi-year funds, the annualized budget figures (e.g. the “2016 Budget” numbers) reflect the amounts in the Programme of Work and Budget while the “available resources” reflect amounts to be spent in multiple fiscal years. Consequently, the actual annual figures are better understood by examining expenditures. However, “expenditures” of multi-year funds also include commitments (obligations entered into accounts) for future years. In contrast, the available resources for the Environment Fund, Regular Budget and Programme Support Account reflect the actual resources available to spend in the fiscal year in question. These variances are inevitable, given UN Environment‘s complex funding sources and accounting rules.

Overall UN Environment’s expenditure level was 150 per cent more than the budgeted amount owing to higher amounts of available resources. There were, however, large variances in terms of funding sources and between subprogrammes.

 

Earmarked funding constitutes majority of income for UN Environment

Income Analysis

UN Environment received $464.9 million for 2016 and future years against the annual budget of $338.8 million. Three sources of income support of the implementation of the Programme of Work directly: 1) the UN Regular Budget, including the UN Development Account, which supports the core functions of the Secretariat including servicing of the Governing Bodies, 2) the Environment Fund, which is the foundation that enables UN Environment to implement its global and regional work across all areas of the programme and address emerging issues, and 3) Earmarked Contributions, which complement the core funding in the delivery of the programme. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is the largest financial partner of UN Environment that funds activities aligned with the Programme of Work.

The UN Regular Budget and the Environment Fund together form the core of the organisation’s funding and amounted to 28 per cent of the total funding available in 2016. The Environment Fund received just under 50% of the approved budget of $ 135.5 million from 86 out of the 193 Member States. The earmarked contributions in direct support to programme amounted to $138.7 million or 45 per cent of the funds available. This is higher than the projected budget of $101 million. The Global Environment Facility provided $238.5 million in revenue through letters of commitment for 2016 and future years. Out of this, $84 million was available for project implementation, or 27 per cent of the total funding available in 2016.

Secure and Stable

Secure and stable funding is prerequisite for developing and delivering a results-based Programme of Work and budget. In an organization that is over 95 per cent voluntarily funded, security and stability depends on a broad range of consistent donors who make regular and early contributions and, preferably also multi-year commitments. The Member States are the owners of the organization and are responsible for ensuring that the decisions of the UN Environment Assembly are adequately resourced.

Despite calls for broadening the donor base, the top 15 donors still contributed around 90 per cent of the total Environment Fund income and only 45 per cent of Member States made contributions to the Environment Fund in 2016, which is consistent with previous years. However, the income was lower by 17 per cent due to exchange rate losses and cuts in contributions from a few contributors within the top 15. Donors leading the way for multi-year contributions include Canada, China, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, with commitments amounting to $25.1 million for the year 2016 alone. Tightly earmarked funding generally provides little lead time for planning and implementation. In contrast, the stability of GEF project funding is built into an 18-month lead period from the approval of the project concept to the start of implementation.

 

Adequate and Increased

Adequate and increased funding is measured by actual resources received against the annual budgets. The unearmarked funding through the Environment Fund is particularly important for the balanced delivery of the programme as it enables a flexible allocation of funds based on need, while earmarked funding prioritizes only some aspects of the programme over others. Increased core funding also supports innovative, groundbreaking initiatives that address emerging needs and can be scaled up for maximum results. The balance between core and complementary resources is hence critical and still continues to be a challenge. It is therefore much appreciated that 30 Member States increased their contributions to the Environment Fund in 2016.

It is necessary that all Member States share the responsibility to provide resources commensurate to the magnitude of today’s environmental challenges that they have collectively decided to address through UN Environment.

 

Expenditure Analysis

Total expenditure for 2016 was $511 million. The available resources in the Global Environment Facility (GEF), other Trust Funds and Earmarked contributions continue to be much higher than in the projected budget. This is partly because, as outlined in the previous section, the available resources captured in Umoja may relate to multi-year contributions but partly because UN Environment continues to demonstrate its strength in attracting earmarked funding. Thus, multi-year contributions received in 2015 and prior to that, enabled the organization to have more resources available to use in 2016, and a higher expenditure than the projected budget for the year. However, with earmarked funding at levels so much higher than our non-earmarked biennial funds (Environment Fund, Regular Budget of the UN, and Programme Support Account), the emphasis of UN Environment’s work risks moving out of alignment with the multilaterally-agreed priorities.

 

Most areas of UN Environment work received more funding than projected budgets because of earmarked funding

 

The General Assembly approved a contribution from the Regular Budget of the UN to UN Environment of $35.3 million for the biannium 2016-2017 ($17.6 million annually). Included in this budget is the approval of 21 additional positions deployed to six regional offices. In addition, UN Environment received an allocation of $2.3 million from UN Development Account. UN Regular Budget funds the total of 114 positions of UN Environment and since the vacancy rate was kept low UN Headquarters issued an advance allotment of $4.1 million (from 2017), hence the overall available resource was $24.1 million. UN Environment spent $21.9 million, or 90 per cent of the allocated.

On the Environment Fund, the estimated income for 2016 was $67.9 million of which $67 million was allocatedacross sub-programmes, Executive Direction and Management and programme support. The total expenditure for the year was $64 million on core capacity and general operating expenses for implementation of the programme. While this amount is lower than the original allocation it was in line with the lower level of income actually realized.

UN Environment is tracking the amount it is spending on posts versus on activities. The aim is to ensure that relatively more funding is allocated for activities versus staff costs. In particular, for the Environment Fund, the organization aims at ensuring that its post costs for the biennium 2016-2017 does not exceed $122 million, equivalent to $61 million for the year 2016. Post costs in the Environment Fund for 2016 stood at $48 million.

 

Overcoming Challenges

Managing the Umoja transition is still a work in progress, but we have had tangible successes. For example, producing donor reports in accordance with the required format was a challenge at the onset of Umoja, as the data had to come from two different systems with different dimensions. As UN Environment has overcome the learning curve, we have been able to set up the data in Umoja to suit reporting requirements.

Overall, however, while UN Environment has come a long way in adjusting to Umoja, we still grapple with the challenge of moving into a new operational model with many new (and still only foreseen) globalized operations and standardized processes. UN Environment seeks to leverage the opportunities presented by Umoja as we continue to adjust to these policies and procedures.

 


1 United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

2 The 2016 annual budget is calculated as 50 per cent of the approved 2016-2017 Programme of Work and Budget, but adjusted due to a variance in the actual UN Regular Budget provision.

UNEA 2

Global parliament
of the environment
United Nations Environment Assembly Delivering on the 2030 Agenda

Scroll
Photo: UN Environment.

The United Nations Environment Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. In 2016, UN Environment hosted the second gathering of Assembly in Nairobi from 23 to 27 May.

 

By the Numbers

  • 170 countries
  • 27 heads of UN agencies
  • 15 heads of international organizations
  • 250+ scientists
  • 320 journalists
  • 400+ civil society representatives
  • 12,312 news articles published
United Nations Environmental Assembly

The Assembly brought together nearly 300 civil society representatives, who participated in the Global Major Groups and Stakeholder Forum prior to UNEA, as well as many more in a large variety of side events and in the Assembly itself. Expert contributions from civil society were crucial to the event’s success.

The Assembly adopted 25 resolutions that will drive action on sustainable finance, marine ecosystems, waste management, land degradation, the illegal trade in wildlife, and the protection of the environment during armed conflict, among many other critical challenges. Addressing these issues is integral to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement.

The next UN Environment Assembly will take place in Nairobi in December 2017, with a special focus on pollution.

 

Partnerships

Working Through Partnerships TO DELIVER CHANGE
AROUND THE WORLD

Scroll
Photo: UN Environment.

In our increasingly interconnected world, environmental challenges are too complex and far-reaching to be addressed by any single entity. That’s why UN Environment is working hand in hand with forward-thinking businesses and civil society groups to protect the planet, end poverty, and ensure sustainable prosperity for all.

UN Environment now has well over one hundred partnerships – with businesses, think tanks, academia, women’s groups, indigenous groups, and youth groups, among many other organizations. Each of these is helping us to build a healthier world and work toward the ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Business

The private sector is critical to promoting innovation, creating green jobs, and fostering sustainable economic development. Our Member States have specifically asked us to expand these partnerships, which we will continue to do, especially in priority areas such as oceans, air pollution, conservation, green finance, urban landscapes and the circular economy.

Major initiatives

Highlights from 2016

  • The UN Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative – a peer-to-peer learning platform for stock exchanges, of which UN Environment is an organizer – grew to 60 partners, representing over 70% of listed equity markets around the world.
  • UN Environment struck a new partnership with Ant Financial, China’s leading online and mobile financial services provider, to explore how financial technology can promote sustainable finance and green lifestyles.
  • In 2016, UN Environment hosted the Sustainable Innovation Expo, which brought together policymakers, civil society and the business community to discuss critical environmental challenges and possible sustainable and resource-efficient solutions.
  • The UN Environment Finance Initiative Global Roundtable in Dubai brought together nearly 400 participants from all parts of the financial system to develop new pathways in sustainable finance.
  • The International Resource Panel High-level Dialogue in Paris brought together participants from the public and private sectors to explore new ways to collaborate on natural resource management and resource efficiency.

Civil Society

UN Environment has a strong and active relationship with civil society, which represents our most important gateway to the citizens of the world. These partners advocate for important causes, provide expertise that enriches UN Environment’s decisions, and channel the voices of those most likely to be affected by environmental challenges and policies.

In 2016, most meetings of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, UN Environment’s governing body, were open to accredited civil society groups, allowing them to actively engage with Member States. This development has strengthened stakeholder participation in the UN system by promoting transparency, participation and access to information.

Our work with civil society is critical to promoting strong environmental governance. In 2016, we supported the development of a regional agreement in which Latin American countries commit to giving their citizens better access to information, access to justice, and the opportunity to participate in environmental decision-making. The agreement implements Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration, which sets out the key pillars of environmental governance.

Conventions

Global conventions hosted by
UN Environment
Conventions Serving the world's
commitments

Scroll
Photo: Grid Arendal.

 

Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

The Kigali Amendment was adopted by the 28th Meeting of Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The Amendment adds hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), powerful greenhouse gases, to the list of substances controlled under the Protocol to be phased down. HFC phasedown is expected to avoid up to 0.5°C of global temperature rise by 2100, while continuing to protect the ozone layer.

 

Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

  • 700 people took part in the BRS Convention’s first-ever Massive Open Online Course, which covered the topic of e-waste.
  • The 10th Anniversary of the “synergies process” to promote collaboration among the conventions was celebrated with a Global Synergies Workshop in June.
  • The Secretariat and Parties started preparations for the their next Triple Conference of the Parties, to be held from 24 April to 5 May 2017.

 

Minamata Convention on Mercury

  • 15 governments ratified the Convention, including China and Mali, bringing the total number of Parties to 35.
  • Only 15 additional ratifications are required before the Convention will come into force.
  • A project to reduce health hazards of artisanal and small-scale gold mining was launched with funding from the Global Environment Facility.

 

Convention on Biological Diversity

  • 183 5th national reports have been submitted, indicating a submission rate of 93%. The reports track countries’ progress towards achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity.
  • 7,000 participants, including 4,000 delegates from 170 countries and over 400 organizations, attended the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancun, Mexico. 41 decisions were adopted at the meeting.
  • The Cancun Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Well-being will enhance the implementation of the Convention and facilitate closer collaboration with related international initiatives.
  • The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization gained 23 new Parties, including Argentina and Antigua and Barbuda.
  • Congo, Liberia, Togo, Mali and Swaziland ratified the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Just four more ratifications are needed for the supplementary protocol to enter into force.
  • 46% of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol have taken measures to integrate socio-economic considerations into decision-making on living modified organisms (LMOs).

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

  • 3,500 participants attended the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (COP17), the UN Wildlife Conference.
  • 152 governments took decisions on 62 proposals on the wildlife trade.
  • Over 500 species of animals and plants gained new protections thanks to the resolutions and decisions adopted at COP17.
  • The Conference also adopted decisions and resolutions on corruption, wildlife crime, illegal fishing, rural communities and youth engagement, among other topics.

Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

  • The United Arab Emirates and Iraq ratified, bringing the total number of Parties to 124.
  • India signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, raising the number of signatories to 56.
  • The Intergovernmental Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean was launched on World Migratory Bird Day 2016.
  • 200 registered events associated with World Migratory Bird Day 2016, including bird festivals, education programmes, media events, film screenings and a benefit concert.

Ambassadors & Allies

OUR WORK WITH Ambassadors & Allies RAISING AWARENESS
AND INSPIRING CHANGE

Scroll
Photo: NASA HQ.

A Beautiful Planet

In April, the much-anticipated IMAX documentary film, A Beautiful Planet, premiered in New York City in partnership with UN Environment. Narrated by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence and with footage collected from astronauts on board the International Space Station, the film provides a unique perspective on humans’ impact on the planet. At the New York premier, Lawrence joined IMAX CEO, Rich Gelfond, who announced IMAX’s commitment to a new partnership with UN Environment. The collaboration will see the two organizations encourage the production of films on a wide array of issues that lie at the heart of the UN's efforts to protect the planet, end poverty and ensure peace and prosperity for all. “Our hope is that by launching this campaign, we will change minds and hearts and make a greater impact across the world,” Gelfond said.

A Beautiful Planet IMAX® Trailer

A Beautiful Planet IMAX® Trailer

Wild for Life

World Environment Day 2016
Some of the year's highlights include a very successful World Environment Day 2016 campaign dubbed "Wild For Life".

In May, UN Environment led the launch of a global campaign, Wild for Life, to tackle the illegal wildlife trade. More than 30 celebrities – including supermodel Gisele Bündchen, football star Yaya Touré, and actor Ian Somerhalder – have joined the campaign, which has been rolled out in eight languages. With a combined social media reach of 350 million, these celebrities are key to spreading the campaign’s message. The response has been incredible. China has already announced a total ban on commercial ivory, and several of the campaign’s key species have been awarded greater protections.

Solar Impulse

In July, the Solar Impulse aircraft touched down in Abu Dhabi, marking the completion of the first round-the-world flight in a solar-powered aircraft.

UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Betrand Piccard and his partner André Borschberg broke 19 official aviation records as they piloted the aircraft across more than 42,000 kilometers. “The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let's take it further,” Piccard said to a cheering crowd in Abu Dhabi after completing the final leg.

Ross Sea gains new protections

After five years of negotiations and tireless “Speedo diplomacy” from endurance swimmer and UN Environment Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh, Antarctica's Ross Sea was finally declared a Marine Protected Area in October. The Ross Sea, known as the “Polar Garden of Eden”, is widely considered to be the last great wilderness area on Earth. The 1.57 million square-kilometre region is now the world's largest protected area on land or sea. The designation means that the Ross Sea will be safe from industrial fishing, which can devastate marine ecosystems.

Champions of the Earth

Celebrating outstanding
environmental leadership
Champions of the Earth Our 2016 Laureates

Scroll
Photo: UN Environment.

Six inspirational environmental leaders were awarded the UN’s highest environmental accolade, the Champions of the Earth Award, at a ceremony on the sidelines of the UN Biodiversity Conference in Cancún, Mexico in December 2016.

2016 Champions of the Earth Awards Ceremony

2016 Champions of the Earth Awards Ceremony

The annual prize honours outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector whose actions have had a positive impact on the environment.

UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim and Deputy Executive Director Ibrahim Thiaw both congratulated the 2016 laureates. “This year’s champions have demonstrated the vision and engagement needed at all levels to improve our stewardship of the planet, to develop it sustainably, and secure the prosperity of all of its people,” Solheim said.

 

The 2016 Winners

For Policy and Leadership

His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, for outstanding leadership in fighting climate change and driving national environmental action.

For Science and Innovation

Leyla Acaroglu, founder of Disrupt Design, New York; Eco Innovators, Melbourne; and UnSchool, for dedication to positive change through design, innovation, communication and human connection.

UN Environment Champions of the Earth

Visit the Champions of the Earth website

For Entrepreneurial Vision

Masen, the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy, for its commitment to advancing solar power, making solar energy affordable and innovative approaches to green financing.

For Inspiration and Action

Afroz Shah, for outstanding leadership and initiative in mobilizing large-scale public support to remove 3,000 tonnes of litter from Versova beach in Mumbai.

Berta Cáceres, recognized posthumously for her tireless campaigning for the rights of indigenous people in Honduras and the protection of their natural environment.

Lifetime Achievement Award

José Sarukhán Kermez, for a lifetime of leadership and innovation in the conservation of biodiversity in Mexico and around the world.

Senior Management Team

UN Environment Senior Management Team Our Leadership

Scroll
Photo: UN Environment.

The Senior Management Team is chaired by the UN Environment Executive Director and includes the following members:

Erik Solheim, UN Environment Executive Director

Erik Solheim,
UN Environment Executive Director

 

Ibrahim Thiaw, UN Environment Deputy Executive Director

Ibrahim Thiaw,
UN Environment Deputy Executive Director

Iyad Abumoghli, Director, West Asia Office

Iyad Abumoghli
Director, West Asia Office

Patricia J. Beneke, Director, North America Office

Patricia J. Beneke
Director, North America Office

Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, Director, Africa Office

Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo
Director, Africa Office

Michele Candotti, Director, a.i. Policy and Programme Division

Michele Candotti
Director, a.i. Policy and Programme Division

Jan Dusík, Director, Europe Office

Jan Dusík
Director, Europe Office

Elliott Harris, Director, New York Office and Assistant Secretary-General of United Nations

Elliott Harris
Director, New York Office and Assistant-Secretary-General of the United Nations

Leo Heileman, Director, Latin America and the Caribbean Office

Leo Heileman
Director, Latin America and the Caribbean Office

Jorge Laguna-Celis, Secretary, Secretariat of Governing Bodies and Director, Governance Affairs Officee

Jorge Laguna-Celis
Secretary, Secretariat of Governing Bodies and Director, Governance Affairs Office

Isabelle Louis, Director, a.i. Asia and the Pacific Office

Isabelle Louis
Director, a.i. Asia and the Pacific Office

Mette Løyche Wilkie, Director, Ecosystems Division

Mette Løyche Wilkie
Director, Ecosystems Division

Jacqueline McGlade, Director, Science Division

Jacqueline McGlade
Director, Science Division

Anne Le More, Chief of Staff a.i.

Anne Le More
Chief of Staff a.i.

Elizabeth Mrema, Director, Law Division

Elizabeth Mrema
Director, Law Division

Ligia Noronha, Director, Economy Division

Ligia Noronha
Director, Economy Division

Theresa Panuccio, Director, Corporate Services Division

Theresa Panuccio
Director, Corporate Services Division

Naysán Sahba, Director, Communication Division

Naysán Sahba
Director, Communication Division