Greenhouse gas emissions are down and air quality has gone up, as governments react to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, has cautioned against viewing this as a boon for the environment. In this First Person editorial from UN News, Ms. Andersen calls instead for a profound, systemic shift to a more sustainable economy that works for both people and the planet.
With cities continuously more threatened by climate change-induced disasters, urban planning’s reflex response is to protect cities against nature. But what if the solution lies in working with nature instead against it? Architect Kongjiang Yu invites readers to imagine what cities could look like if they took into account ancient wisdom on spatial planning.
Years ago, Mohamed’s family had enough to eat, despite being poor. His daughter owned a vegetable stall at a bustling market in northeastern Nigeria. The family had options: during the dry season, when Lake Chad was shallow, Mohamed could farm; and during the wet season, he could fish or graze his cattle. But then things began to change.
A new form of organized crime has recently been emerging in the Amazon: illegal mining. Miners fell trees, use high-grade explosives for blasting soils and dredge riverbeds. But the impacts go beyond environmental damage, bringing with it a slew of other social problems. Peace researcher Adriana Abdenur urges policymakers to improve coordination and argues that diplomacy may help prevent further conflicts, corruption and crime.
To fight illegal coca plantations and conflict actors’ income sources, Colombia’s president wants to loosen the ban on aerial glyphosate spraying. However, considering the dynamics of organised crime, the use of toxic herbicides will not only fail to achieve its aim, it will have many adverse effects for the environment and human health, fundamentally undermining ways to reach peace in the country. International cooperation and national policy-makers need to account for this peace spoiler.
“Climate Security risks will materialise in very different ways and forms, whether we talk about Lake Chad or about the Arctic, Bangladesh and the Small Island Developing States,” said the EU’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Joao Vale de Almeida, in his opening remarks. “But for the EU, there is no doubt, as underlined in 2016 in our Global Strategy, and reaffirmed by the 28 Ministers of Foreign Affairs, that climate change is a major threat to the security of the EU and to global peace and security more generally,” he said.
The challenges facing the international community are growing while the willingness to cooperate seems to be waning. Foreign policy must help bridge this gap. One way to accomplish this is by pushing forward a major achievement of multilateralism: the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. At a side event during the 2019 High-Level Political Forum, diplomats and policy experts discussed the role of foreign policy in the global sustainability architecture.
Global progress towards achieving the SDGs is slow, and for many targets, off track. While SDG implementation is primarily a national task and responsibility, it also requires concerted international cooperation. This article presents two arguments why foreign policy could play an important role in their achievement.
In recent years, conflict between herders and farmers for access to increasingly scarce natural resources in Africa’s Sudano-Sahel has escalated. While the problems fueling these tensions are both hyper-local and transnational in nature, one important piece of the puzzle has been overlooked. The real “elephant in the room” is who owns the livestock.