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Regional News

Pope Francis Calls for Strong Climate Agreement during Visit to UN Environment Programme Headquarters

Pope Francis Calls for Strong Climate Agreement during Visit to UN Environment Programme Headquarters 
Transforming Current Development Models “Political and Economic Obligation”, Says Pontiff.
Nairobi, 26 November 2015 – His Holiness Pope Francis today called on world leaders to seal a strong agreement at the Paris climate change meeting next month, adding that transforming current development models was a “political and economic obligation”, as he visited the global headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. 
Speaking to an audience of thousands, which included UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) Director-General Sahle-Work Zewde, Pope Francis placed particular emphasis on the need to adopt low-carbon energy systems and end the “throw-away culture” that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. 
“In a few days, an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris ... It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good,” Pope Francis said. “In this international context, we are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment. 
“COP21 (the climate meeting) represents an important stage in the process of developing a new energy system which depends on a minimal use of fossil fuels, aims at energy efficiency and makes use of energy sources with little or no carbon content. We are faced with a great political and economic obligation to rethink and correct the dysfunctions and distortions of the current model of development.” 
UNEP’s Emissions Gap report, released in early November, showed that the expected Paris commitments from member states will cut up to 4 to 6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year from global emissions in 2030. This, however, is 12 gigatonnes short of the level that will keep the world on track to stay below the “safe” limit of a 2°C temperature rise this century. 
UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner praised Pope Francis’s moral leadership on the environment— which the Pontiff has already displayed with his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ calling on the faithful to embrace their responsibilities to the environment—saying it added global momentum to efforts to close this emissions gap and implement the Sustainable Development Goals. 
“Addressing the world just a few days before the Paris climate conference, with the future of this planet hanging in the balance, you (Pope Francis) remind world leaders, business leaders and individual citizens that we each have not only a responsibility, but an obligation to act on what our conscience tells us to be right,” Mr. Steiner said. 
“In this pivotal year, your powerful notion of the ‘globalization of indifference’ speaks to the heart of the practical and ethical challenges ahead: both to reach a climate change agreement in Paris and to deliver it within the much broader, holistic spectrum of sustainable development that must leave no one behind.” 
Pope Francis also touched upon the need to create a world in which unsustainable consumption and production patterns—which contribute to pollution, ecosystem degradation and climate change through the wasteful use of resources in the production of food and other goods—are ended. 
“This calls for an educational process which fosters in boys and girls, women and men, young people and adults, the adoption of a culture of care—care for oneself, care for others, care for the environment—in place of a culture of waste, a ‘throw-away culture’ where people use and discard themselves, others and the environment.” 
As a further symbol of his environmental commitment, Pope Francis planted an Olea capensis, an indigenous tree found across the continent of Africa, on the grounds of the UN headquarters before his talk. 
“Planting a tree is first and foremost an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification,” he said. “Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience.” 
Mr. Steiner took Pope Francis on a tour of the UNEP offices, a sustainable facility powered largely by solar panels, to demonstrate renewable energy and energy efficiency in practice. 
There, Mr. Steiner presented Pope Francis with an elephant created from discarded flip-flops (a product designed to draw attention to the issue of marine litter and plastic waste) as a token of his appreciation for the Pope’s commitment to the environment. 
For more information, please contact: 
Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP, +254 788 526 000,unepnewsdesk@unep.org 
A full copy of Mr. Steiner’s speech is available at the following URL: http://www.unep.org/newscentre/Default.aspx?DocumentID=26855&ArticleID=35592&l=en 

Launch of the Geneva Science-Policy Platform on Environment and Security

Launch of the Geneva Science-Policy Platform on Environment and Security

Diplomats and scientists pledge to work together to find meaningful solutions for issues of environment and security

Geneva, 17 November: Today Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives of countries accredited at the UN in Geneva, as well as distinguished members of the international academia, attended the launch event of the Geneva Science-Policy Platform on Environment and Security, hosted jointly by the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) represented by the UN Environment Programme and the University of Geneva. The launch event provided an opportunity for the policy-making and academic community to discuss the implications of climate change on European and global security.

The newly established platform will serve as a network supplying knowledge and technical expertise for new approaches to confront existing and emerging challenges in the field of environment and security. It will establish continuous dialogue between scientists and policymakers to generate new ideas and methodologies to implement new solutions that facilitate environmental cooperation. The Platform will meet on an annual basis to address existing and emerging environmental risks and tensions in the overall context of global issues.

At the launch event, dedicated to Climate Change and the Future of European Security, participants exchanged views on the effects of climate change already happening in Europe, and the associated security implications for the future, such as the threat of mass migration from climate change-affected regions and humanitarian crises in the context of increasingly probable natural disasters. They also discussed what tools have been applied by various stakeholders to combat climate change, and what lessons can already be learned from other regions to formulate new environmentally sound security strategies.

“Through implementing ENVSEC projects on the ground, we came to realize how important it is to transform the current thinking to appreciate how deeply the environment and natural resources relate to our security concerns, and how the environment is at risk due to political tensions and lack of security. It is in this context that we also realized the importance of knowledge in integrating environmental sustainability and ecosystem management in the political agenda of states, as we are embarking on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Jan Dusik, UNEP Director and Regional Representative.

The Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) is a partnership of five international organizations – UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Regional Environment Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) – with specialized but complementary mandates and expertise that provide an integrated response to environment and security challenges. The mission of ENVSEC is to contribute to the reduction of environment and security risks through strengthened cooperation among and within countries in four regions: Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Southern Caucasus, and South-Eastern Europe.

For more information, contact Isabelle Valentiny, Head of Communications, Regional Office for Europe, UNEP at isabelle.valentiny@unep.org - + 41 79 251 82 36 or Mahir Aliyev, UNEP Regional Coordinator: mahir.aliyev@unep.org

UNEP to bring green flavour to UN anniversary in Geneva

Visitors at the UN Geneva Open Days celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations will be able to learn, play games about and taste the theme of sustainability as well as see a one-wheel Segway in action thanks to UNEP’s presence at the event this Saturday.

UNEP’s stand can be found inside the Palais des Nations' Bar du Serpent while children’s activities – including art and puppet shows featuring Ozzy Ozone – will take place on the third floor above the bar.

Visitors can discover how pesticides are controlled, how the trade in endangered species is being fought, what a green economy is and how the environment is protected in countries following conflicts at UNEP’s stand - capturing the broad scope of the organisation’s work from Geneva.

Publications, a game on actions we can take for our planet made out of recycled materials, postcards and organic apples will also be available at the stand, which brings a green touch to a day when Geneva’s iconic ‘jet d’eau’ fountain and other features around the city will be coloured blue.

Saturday 24 October marks the seventieth anniversary of the entering into force of the UN Charter. Between 10h and 17h visitors at the Palais can enjoy concerts, dances, debates and more as well as visit stands held by UN organisations and member states.

For more information on all activities taking place please click here

For UNEP global news, click here
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