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ECOSOC Discusses Climate Change During Annual Substantive Segment

© ECOSOC16 July 2009: On 14 July 2009, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) conducted a round table discussion on the theme “Towards a UN comprehensive response to the challenges of climate change” as part of its Coordination Segment, and on 15 July 2009, the Operational Activities Segment opened with a thematic panel discussion on “The current economic, food and climate change crises and their effects on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals: the role of the UN System's support to national efforts.”

At the close of the 14 July round table, ECOSOC Vice-President Somduth Soborun summarized the discussion and highlighted that: climate change is recognized as a multifaceted challenge that requires the efforts and expertise of a broad range of actors; the Chief Executives Board for Coordination has launched an initiative to align its efforts and strengths within a clear framework for action that would allow the System to act in concert and comprehensively to address the challenges of climate change; and this initiative seeks to forge the UN System's contribution to the UNFCCC negotiation process, and to bring together and connect the different capacities of the System, both normative, standard-setting and operational, to deal comprehensively with the threats and challenges of climate change.

The panelists in the round table discussion included Mohammad Khazaee, Chair of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Executive Board, who said UNDP was engaged in developing a knowledge platform to provide support for UN agencies and member States in designing effective and result-oriented climate change policies and measures. Gerda Verburg, Chair of the 17th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD17), said agriculture and climate change are two key cornerstones of a sustainable future, and noted that CSD17's outcome document identifies 278 policy measures and actions to expedite implementation in agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. Armen Martirosyan, Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, emphasized the role of women in addressing climate change. Maria Nazareth Farani Azevedo, Chair of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body, emphasized that the need to enhance green jobs and increase investment in green technology had been recognized in the Global Jobs Pact as part of the strategy leading to a sustainable recovery. And Miloslav Hettes, Vice-Chair of the Commission for Social Development, noted that, while climate change is producing complex social responses and may have magnified migration, conflicts, crime and violence into catastrophic measures, and it is increasingly certain what will happen to the Earth's climate, knowledge of the likely social consequences of climate change for human society are still mostly unknown.

Also on 14 July 2009, the Coordination Segment considered country level experiences with effective sustainable development strategies. In summarizing the discussion, Somduth Soborun, Vice-President of the Council, noted that: governments need to provide coherent guidance in various government bodies; inter-agency mechanisms like UN-Water and UN-Energy should be fully taken advantage of; the current crisis provides an opportunity to change the path of economic growth, and if not taken there would be dire consequences in the area of climate change; and the challenges ahead for the UN in strengthening its efforts in sustainable development are not just about scaling up activities, but about coming up with comprehensive approaches to these challenges.

On 15 July 2009, the Operational Activities Segment opened with a thematic panel discussion on “the current economic, food and climate change crises and their effects on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals: the role of the UN System's support to national efforts.” Among the panelists, Noeleen Heyzer, Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), said most of the coherent policy dialogues and policy action in the context of the present crisis have been at the regional level, and highlighted ESCAP's efforts related to capacity development, building consensus and sharing experiences at the regional level to promote low-carbon green growth. [UNOG press release, 14 July 2009 am] [UNOG press release, 14 July 2009 pm] [UNOG press release, 15 July 2009] [ECOSOC press release]