As the Global Environment Facility’s 6th Assembly welcomes over 1,000 delegates and heads of state in Vietnam this week, it seems like a good time to take a step back and consider how we are doing when it comes to environmental action and sustainability.
Global action on climate change to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals was a key message delivered by the Italian Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea at the United Nations High Level Political Forum in New York. All4TheGreen, the Ministry’s collaboration with the Connect4Climate program of the World Bank Group, was presented as an important case-study to encourage citizen engagement to achieve a sustainable future. All4TheGreen was a week of more than 80 events in the lead-up to the recent G7 Environment minister’s meetings in the cultural and academic hub of Bologna, Italy.
It has been a fascinating time to be in the United States and watch as the media and American public were transfixed by Catholic Pope Francis’ whirlwind three city sojourn to Washington DC, New York City and finally Philadelphia.
It was a trip of firsts. Pope Francis became the first Pope to address a joint session of the US Congress and then a day later marking another first in addressing the UN General Assembly just before member states unanimously adopted Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
It was fitting and profound to have the Pope frame the global goals’ agenda with his remarks, since in many ways his recently released encyclical, Laudato Si, embodies the integrated and indivisible nature of the sustainable development agenda.
It puts both environmental protection and social inclusion as part and parcel to ending poverty and extending dignity instead of being an add-on or at worst an afterthought.
More than two decades ago, the world agreed on the need to confront climate change.
The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) emerged in 1992, spawning a variety of negotiating forums with the goal of preventing catastrophic impacts from planetary warming caused mostly by polluting societies.
It's easy to overlook the progress that has occurred since, because we still have so far to go. Droughts, flooding and cyclones that already seem to be the norm are just the latest warnings of what is coming, and preventing much worse requires immediate and aggressive action to drastically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.