Nairobi/Monaco, 11 February 2008 - The biggest gathering of environment ministers to take place since the climate change breakthrough in Bali will be happening in Monaco later this month under the theme "Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge". More than 100 ministers from across the globe are scheduled to attend the Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) - the world's forum for environment ministers -alongside senior figures from industry and economics; science; local government; civil society, trades unions and intergovernmental bodies.
Nairobi/Monaco, 11 February 2008 - The biggest gathering of environment ministers to take place since the climate change breakthrough in Bali will be happening in Monaco later this month under the theme "Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge".
More than 100 ministers from across the globe are scheduled to attend the Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) - the world's forum for environment ministers -alongside senior figures from industry and economics; science; local government; civil society, trades unions and intergovernmental bodies.
These include Tulsi Tanti, Managing Director of Indian wind energy company Suzlon; Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Juan Somovia, the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation.
Other key figures include Gunter Pauli, entrepreneur, businessman and founder of the Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives and an expert on nature's solutions to environmental challenges; James Cameron, founder of Climate Change Capital - an investment banking group specializing in financing a low-carbon economy; and Fernando Ibanez, Chief Executive Officer of Saguapac, one of the world's most successful and largest water cooperatives.
They will be joined by V. Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, an expert on the emerging challenge of 'global dimming'.
Professor Ramanathan is leader of the Atmospheric Brown Cloud research team. It is carrying out cutting edge research on the emerging links between soot in the atmosphere and novel climatic impacts including accelerated glacier melt, reduced crop yields and shifts in rainfall patterns of the Monsoon.
The delegates will all be attending the 10th Special Session of the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The last climate convention meeting delivered the Bali Road Map. This is the path along which over 190 countries are traveling in order to deliver a new and decisive climate deal by Copenhagen in 2009."
"Mobilizing finance, focusing markets and unleashing innovation will be central to successfully negotiating the Road Map and avoiding too many detours and dead ends," he added.
"We are already glimpsing a transition to a low carbon society. Billions of dollars are now being invested in renewable energy and hundreds of institutions with trillions of dollars of assets are now endorsing investment principles that reflect environmental alongside social and governance concerns," said Mr. Steiner.
"Designing and delivering a Green Economy will not only avert dangerous and debilitating climate change. It can address the wider sustainability challenges outlined in UNEP's recent Global Environment Outlook from loss of biodiversity and rapid ecosystem degradation to collapsing fish stocks and depleted soils," he said.
"In doing so, it opens the door to true sustainable development - development that benefits rich and poor alike by unleashing creativity and innovation, spawning new technologies and industries and stimulating new kinds of green employment patterns. In short, it is about investing in tomorrow's economy today," said Mr. Steiner.
Examples of transformations already underway include:
- UNEP's Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative (SEFI) is helping financiers scale up investment in the growing global markets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. SEFI's report last year underlined how capital is mobilizing towards these low carbon sectors, with total transactions surpassing the $100 billion milestone in 2006 and reaching nearly $160 billion in 2007.
- In collaboration with the United Nations Foundation and Shell Foundation, UNEP helped two of India's largest banking groups - Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank - create a credit market for helping rural villages finance the purchase of solar lighting systems. 100,000 people in southern India have benefited and the initiative is now self-financing with some 20 banks involved. The Programme was awarded the prestigious Energy Globe Award in 2007.
- In Tunisia a similar initiative has created a credit market for bank financing of solar hot water systems. Over 20,000 systems have been financed, affecting about 100,000 people and increasing market volume more than 700% since 2004. The positive results have led the government to enact legislation aimed at decreasing the country's reliance on using Liquid Petroleum Gas for water heating and instead make the shift to solar.
- UNEP and partners such as UNDP and the World Bank are also building the capacity of some 30 developing countries to access the carbon markets for financing climate friendly infrastructure. These multi-million dollar initiatives, including ones under the Nairobi Framework, fall under the umbrella of the CD4CDM programme - the largest initiative of its kind within the development community.
- The geothermal electricity potential in Africa is estimated at 7,000MW, much of it in the part of the Rift Valley that runs from Kenya to Djibouti. With funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNEP and the World Bank are about to launch the African Rift Geothermal Facility (ARGeo). The $17 million project will underwrite the risks of drilling for steam and in doing so build the confidence of the private sector to build geothermal power stations.
- UNEP and the GEF's Solar and Wind Resource Assessment have 'found' 10 million MW of solar and wind energy in 26 developing countries available for private sector development.
- With $20 million in GEF and UN Foundation support, UNEP is also working with the Asian and African Development Banks to leverage private sector financial flows towards clean energy entrepreneurs. Over 50 entrepreneurial businesses specializing in clean energy technologies and services have been financed to date in Africa, Brazil and China
Other key issues on the table in Monaco include the approval of UNEP's new Medium-Term Strategy for 2010-2013. It is designed to evolve the institution into a more efficient, focused, effective and results based environmental body of the United Nations better equipped to deal with the sustainability challenges of the 21st century.
Ministers will also address the issue of International Environment Governance and how well UNEP is placed to address the challenges and opportunities outlined in the recently published landmark report, Global Environment Outlook-4.
Chemicals and Waste Challenges
Also on the table are reports on improved funding for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management and the extent to which the international community is moving forward on the management of the hazardous heavy metal mercury.
Ministers will also be presented with a key report on tackling illegal international trade in hazardous substances alongside one outlining recommendations on how to improve waste management including recycling in developing economies.
UNEP Year Book 2008 - An Overview of Our Changing Environment
This year's Year Book will be presented to ministers and the media. It includes a Global Overview highlighting emerging climate change concerns including the way rising CO2 emissions are triggering acidification of the seas and oceans.
The 2008 Feature Focus reflects on how market and financial mechanisms are evolving and discusses barriers to progress but also underscores the enormous economic opportunities from improved efficiencies and innovations in consumption and production patterns.
The Emerging Challenges section examines how feedback mechanisms in the Earth's climate system, for example methane releases from thawing Artic permafrost and marine hydrate deposits, might amplify global warming in the future.
Green Jobs - Towards Sustainable Work in a Low-Carbon World
UNEP in partnership with the ILO and the International Trades Union Confederation will also be launching a preliminary report from the Green Jobs Initiative on how an emerging Green Economy is generating new employment opportunities in agriculture, construction, engineering and transportation.
Global Civil Society Forum
The meeting will be preceded on 19 February by the 9th Global Civil Society Forum whose steering committee includes Professor Michael Koech, Sustainable Development and Environment Network of Kenya; Dr Mahmood Khwaja, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan and Ms. Zhang Hehe, Friends of Nature, China.
Other members are Ms Sascha Gabizon, Women in Europe for a Common Future, Germany; Mr. Jan-Gustav Strandenaes, Norway; Ms Esther Neuhaus, Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for Sustainable Development, Brazil.
Art for the Environment Initiative
A groundbreaking touring art exhibition, reflecting the climate theme and entitled "Melting Ice / A Hot Topic: Envisioning Change", will be shown at the Office of Cultural Affairs in Monaco throughout the environment ministers' meet and on until 16 March.
The unique exhibition, a partnership between the Natural World Museum and UNEP which was first shown on World Environment Day last year at the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo, brings together leading artists from the developed and developing world.