New Issue-based Coalition on Environment and Climate Change in Europe and Central Asia

The United Nations Inter Agency Issue-based Coalition (IBC) on Environment and Climate Change for Europe and Central Asia was launched at the Regional UN System special session chaired by Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed on 20 March 2020. The Coalition provides a regional platform for UN agencies to promote coordinated support to all Member States in Europe and Central Asia in their implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The main purpose of the IBC, led by UNESCO (through its Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe), UNEP and UNECE and with the participation of 15 other UN agencies, funds and programmes, is to support Resident Coordinators (RCs) and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) as they seek to address environmental and climate related issues in the region. It addresses activities dedicated to strengthening environmental and climate change governance, improving environmental management and climate change mitigation and adaptation, and promoting sustainable management of natural resources.

Ana Luiza Massot Thompson-Flores, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, which is spearheading this initiative for UNESCO noted at the IBC’s first meeting: “This is a crucial moment and an opportunity for the UN system through this IBC to promote a sustainable environment and address climate change, linking forces between the regional and national levels and working towards a more sustainable and resilient Europe and Central Asia region”. Following the launch, 3 subregional consultations were held with RCs and UNCTs from Central Asia, South Eastern Europe and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Turkey. These subregional consultations focused on exploring with RCs and UNCTs their priorities and needs and on defining the IBC’s work plan.

The priority areas identified by the RCs served as the basis for creating 9 task teams around key topics related to the environment and climate change: Climate change and disaster risk reduction, Biodiversity and nature-based solutions, Socioeconomic assessments and post-pandemic recovery strategies, Air pollution, Sustainable consumption and production, Water management, Food security and land management, Sustainable infrastructure, Environment and youth, Environment and gender, Migration, and Environment and Why we need a United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

In responding to the needs of the RCs, the IBC also organized two webinars in May and June 2020 with RCs and UNCTs on the subject of water management. The first webinar, organized by UNESCO and UNECE, focused on the 2020 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR) “Water and Climate Change”. The second webinar focused on transboundary water cooperation, specifically water management in the Drin and Drina river basins in South-East Europe, with presentations from UNECE, UNESCO, UNDP and WMO.

To support the COVID-19 socioeconomic response plans and to ensure a green recovery in the post pandemic period, the IBC issued summary recommendations for COVID-19 recovery. Titled Building Back Better: pathways for a more inclusive, environmentally sustainable and resilient recovery, the recommendations were shared with RCs, UNCTs and other partners working on the recovery plans and assessments of the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic.

The IBC has put in place a webpage that acts as a knowledge hub for the UN system on environment and climate change in the region. The webpage is continuously updated with contributions from all IBC members. This platform organizes relevant information in an easily accessible way for the UN system as a whole and RCs and UNCTs in particular. It includes information from both IBC members and other leading knowledge producing organizations and institutions working in the area of environment and climate change.

The IBC on Environment and Climate Change is planning capacity development events and guidance on the environmental dimension of UN cooperation with programme countries for 2020-2021 and with the other 6 Issue-based Coalitions working within the UN system to support resident coordinators and UN Country Teams in the 17 programme countries in the region.

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