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first-story  UNEP ON THE GROUND
UNEP ready to assist Green Economy transition

Some 36 countries and organisations from the pan-European region have committed to over 100 pledges for a Green Economy and endorsed an action plan for cleaner air.


The 8th Environment for Europe (EfE) Ministerial Conference – held on 8-10 June in Batumi, Georgia - was led by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and supported by UNEP. It represents the first ever regional commitment to the Green Economy transition, with the pledges made tying in with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Commitments made by countries in Batumi include the pledge by Sweden to task its national statistics body to examine how ecosystem services can be included in environmental accounting, in line with SDG15 Life on Land.


A recent United Nations Environment Assembly resolution hands UNEP the mandate to support and organise more regional ministerial fora on the environment. A Ministerial Declaration issued following the conference also invites UNEP and the UNECE to support countries in their efforts to green their economies and achieve sustainable development.


UNEP now stands ready – through technical advice, projects and capacity building - to support countries in achieving what is the first regional attempt to translate the SDGs into action on the ground.


Silent killer


The main topics addressed at EfE were Green Economy and the fight against air pollution.


The European assessment of UNEP’s flagship sixth Global Environment Outlook - launched at the conference – identifies the latter as now being the greatest threat to health in the pan-European region.


If air pollution were human, it would be the deadliest mass murderer in history, UNEP Deputy Executive Director and UN Assistant Secretary-General Ibrahim Thiaw underlined in his opening speech. Yet “there is no contradiction between economic growth and clean air - we can have both," he underlined.


Solar aviation pioneer and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Bertrand Piccard addressed delegates live from New York with a rousing message stressing how shifting to a low-carbon economy can create jobs, improve lives and protect the environment at the same time if we dare to be ambitious.


“Normally at conferences we would not speak of pledges, we would only repeat problems,” welcomed Piccard, adding “I am sure that with UNEP, delegates and all governments present we can have a very fruitful partnership for applying clean technologies on the ground”.


In a Ministerial Statement on Education for Sustainable Development also made in Batumi, countries furthermore called for UNEP’s involvement in the delivery of a Roadmap for Implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development in the region to be strengthened, in line with existing work.


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