by Victoria Gonzalez
Last month, on the 16th of November, the Environmental Committee had the opportunity to visit the International Environmental House of Geneva. We were hosted by the Geneva Environment Network which connects over 75 organization in and around Geneva; providing many internship and job opportunities in the sector. After learning the history of Geneva’s place in environmental governance, we received talks from three professionals working in the various branches of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) within the International Environmental House.
First, we were able to discuss the movement towards an inclusive green economy with In Woo Jung. In Woo Jung is working with the Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) at the UN which operates in 18 countries and aims to help these member states formulate and adopt green economic policies. They work under UNEP to focus on increasing the share of the green sector in the GDP; hoping to improve tax and smart market plans for member states. Their Green Economy Report suggests that 2% of total GDP should be reallocated to investing in natural capital in order to begin the shift towards a global green economy. This reallocation can help leverage more investments in the green sector.
The next speaker, Maxime Paquin, is a UNEP specialist in the Post-Crisis and Development branch who discussed their role in conflict situations. The key missions for this branch include risk reduction, post crisis assessment/recovery, and cooperation and peacebuilding efforts. An exemplary case of UNEP Post Crisis and Development branch is their work with the people of Mosul, Iraq in clearing debris from the war ridden town and aiding the citizens in recycling debris to be used for reconstruction, or decontaminating certain waste sites. The branch also focuses on projects that encourage ecosystem disaster risk reduction by integrating water management tree planting and agricultural techniques to offset erosion and weaken the effects of flooding.
The last lecture was given to us by Pierre Quiblier who is programme officer of the Chemical and Health Branch of the UNEP. Pierre explained how the 2008 Libreville Declaration established explicit links between the health and environmental sectors and how the Sustainable Development Goals further exemplify this connection. The Chemical and Health Branch strives to strengthen governance of member nations to improve regulatory standards related to both health and environmental issues as well as work on integrating the two sectors. Thus, they work with the WHO via the Health and Environmental Strategic Alliance to jointly tackle issues in the development sector while strengthening the unity between the fields.
Overall, this was a great opportunity for the members of the Environmental Committee to get to see the various branches which the UNEP operates and how they are focused on integration and collaboration with other sectors. All the speakers were extremely passionate about their work and shared really great experiences with us. We are grateful to the Geneva Environmental Network for hosting us and showing more about international environmental governance and Geneva’s role in these operations!