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.
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.
Resource consumption has grown exponentially over the past: between 1970 and 2010, the quantity of extracted materials has tripled. Not only the overall amount of resources extracted and consumed has risen rapidly, but also the diversity of resources has grown. While half a century ago, only a few materials such as wood, brick, iron, copper, and plastics were in high demand worldwide, today products are more complex and require a wide range of materials.
More than 4,700 delegates, including environment ministers, scientists, academics, business leaders and civil society representatives, met in Nairobi for the UN Environment Assembly, the world’s top environmental body whose decisions will set the global agenda, notably ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September.
Mid february, the EU's foreign affairs ministers welcomed the Commission’s strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral Europe. Ministers also called for urgent and decisive action to strengthen the global response on climate change and restated the EU’s determination to lead the way on accelerated climate action on all fronts.
Linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across the Latin American landmass has often been presented as one of the holy grails of development for the region. While China’s idea of a ‘Nicaraguan Canal’ has made headlines globally, another major infrastructure project is in the works further south: the Bi-Oceanic Railway. The idea has already spurred transboundary environmental cooperation, but the public is still in the dark.
As opposed to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, India could lead a campaign for climate-responsible international development cooperation, shifting from coal to renewables domestically and promoting the values of the International Solar Alliance globally.
Finding domestic alternatives for rare earths has become a matter of national security, according to a recently released Pentagon report. The United States’ defense, economy, and infrastructure depend on the electronics that rely on these mineral elements. Trade tensions between the United States and China over rare earths illustrate an important dynamic surrounding little-seen building blocks of our daily life.
The pro-coal position of Poland’s energy ministry has thrown sand into the country’s climate diplomacy as COP24 president-designate Michał Kurtyka intensifies his diplomatic tour ahead of the United Nation’s annual climate meeting later this year in Katowice.
Members of the European Parliament voted on Wednesday (10 October) in favour of increasing the EU’s Paris Agreement emissions pledge by 2020. They also urged the European Commission to make sure its long-term climate strategy models net-zero emissions for 2050 “at the latest”.