Decarbonizing development

22 Nov 2016 by Kishan Khoday, Team Leader, Climate Change, DRR and Resilience, UNDP Regional Hub for Arab States

The Union Cement Company plant in United Arab Emirates uses a waste heat recovery system to generate 82 MWh of zero-emission electricity per year. UNDP photo
The Paris Agreement on climate change entered into force this month, following its rapid ratification by countries around the world. The Agreement has the goal of keeping global temperatures below a 2 degree Celsius rise relative to pre-industrial levels. This would avoid the worst effects of climate change, as rising greenhouse gas emissions jeopardize achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, threatening to exacerbate disasters, poverty and inequality the world over. The latest Assessment Report (AR5) issued by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights that to keep the planet within the 2 degree Celsius target, we must cut global emissions in half by 2050 and achieve zero net emissions by 2100. This entails a major change of course, with new zero-carbon models of development a key part of the action agenda. Energy consumption accounts for two-thirds of global emissions, so the goal of decarbonizing development hinges on reducing the energy intensity of growth, especially in countries with high carbon footprints. Morocco, host of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UN climate change convention, is emerging as a leader in climate action. This year it launched the first phase of its Noor solar power plant. When fully operational this will be the world’s largest concentrated solar power (CSP) facility. … Read more

Unlocking climate action: Why cities are at the forefront

18 Oct 2016 by Bahareh Seyedi, Policy Specialist, Climate Change, Energy and Disaster Risk Reduction, UNDP

By 2060, more than a billion people will be living in cities in low-lying coastal zones, the vast majority in developing countries. Photo: Igor Rugwiza/MINUSTAH
Tehran, Managua, Vancouver, Manila, Montreal, Ouagadougou, New York: seven cities I love and have had the pleasure of living in! Each is rich in beauty, history, and culture, and has its own unique urban characteristics. But there is a shared threat faced by these cities that if left unaddressed has the ability to jeopardize their entire existence. The threat of climate change. From droughts, storms, and heat waves, to floods and hurricanes, these cities are all exposed to risks from climate hazards and natural disasters in one way or another. My hometown, Tehran, is at serious risk of water scarcity, with its major reservoirs reaching critically low levels in the past couple of years due to reduced rainfall and increase in temperature. … Read more

Cyclone Roanu is a reminder: We must focus on preventing crises, even as we respond to them

24 May 2016 by Khurshid Alam, Assistant Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh

As leaders gather for the World Humanitarian Summit, Cyclone Roanu has displaced half a million people in Bangladesh. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
As the World Humanitarian Summit unfolds and leaders discuss the humanitarian impact of rising crises and disasters, half a million people are currently displaced in Bangladesh. Cyclone Roanu pummeled the Bangladesh coastline on 21 May with 55mph winds and floodwaters several feet high. Making landfall in the country’s southeast, the cyclone brought devastation to areas unaffected by cyclones for the past 25 years. Where there used to be crops there is now salt water – the sea surrounding even the cyclone shelter. … Read more

The Angry Birds wish you a Happy Earth Day

22 Apr 2016 by Red, UN Honorary Ambassador for Green on the International Day of Happiness

Red eating under a tree
Happy Earth Day to my feathered and non-feathered friends! I’m writing to you from Hong Kong. I’m here as part of my tour around the world tour as the United Nations Honorary Ambassador for Green. I’m talking with people about how important it is to take action on climate change. After all, by taking small actions like using public transportation or turning off your lights, we can all make a difference. And today is a big day! It’s Earth Day and the signing ceremony of the Paris Agreement. … Read more

From signatures to action

21 Apr 2016 by Jazmine Burgess, Climate Change Specialist, UNDP

man and woman plantingClimate change requires a global commitment and national level action- neither is mutually exclusive.
When governments gather at the UN to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, an important step will be taken to ensure the ambition, momentum and political will of December’s COP 21. Global buy-in is essential for any international agreement to be successful, but what often receives less attention is the equal importance of concrete action at country level to advance an agreement’s objectives. This is critical for the successful implementation of any agreement, and what makes a document negotiated thousands of miles away a tangible reality and source of support to national governments around the world. … Read more

Paris. Women. Now what?

19 Apr 2016 by Allison Towle, Programme Analyst, Climate Change, UNDP

women farmingIn Mali, a women’s collective helps enhance their resilience by strengthening food security. Photo: Imen Meliane / UNDP Mali
Coming off the heels of the climate change negotiations in Paris in December, which led to a momentous agreement for acting collectively on climate change, we have reason to feel proud and energized. Now our focus shifts to how we can support countries in implementing their climate targets or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). This will only be possible if we tap the knowledge, foresight, engagement, and action of all segments of our societies, especially those of women. … Read more

Protecting (scarce) fresh water in the Maldives

15 Apr 2016 by Keti Chachibaia, Regional Technical Specialist for Climate Change Adaptation, UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub

man and desalination plantA local Feneka operator stands in front of the desalinization system. Photo: Keti Chachibaia/UNDP Maldives
Water is a big deal in the Maldives. The archipelago nation of 300,000 people is more water than land. But while abundant in ocean resources, the only freshwater is rainwater that is harvested in special collection tanks. But poor rainfall leaves groundwater tables low and harvesting tanks half empty. This leaves many people and communities straining resources to buy bottled water or struggling to get by. A naturally vulnerable situation is only being exacerbated by climate change, as monsoonal cycles and associated rainfall patterns shift over the Indian Ocean. Greater variations are already occurring and the Maldivians, especially in the Northern atolls, experience longer-than-usual dry seasons. As a result, the National Disaster Management Centre is regularly called upon to deliver emergency water. … Read more

Help make the Angry Birds happy

18 Mar 2016 by Red, UN Honorary Ambassador for Green on the International Day of Happiness

Red eating under a tree
I’m an Angry Bird, but I can’t help but be happy today. I am being designated by the United Nations Secretary-General as the Honorary Ambassador for Green on the International Day of Happiness, which is Sunday, 20 March. It’s enough to warm my little Red heart! On this day, we are celebrating the planet that serves as our home. Everyone knows how much I love my home. Chuck, Bomb, Matilda and I won’t let any pigs hurt it. But our problems are bigger than those nasty pigs – we need to protect our home from climate change, too. … Read more

The Paris Agreement brings potential for transparency

17 Mar 2016 by Rocío Noriega, Coordinator, Anti-corruption program, UNDP Chile and Sergio García, Communications Manager, Environment and Energy, UNDP Chile

In Paris, a public registry of NDC in the first half of 2016 was created, with the mission to collect all contributions to global climate action. Photo: UNDP Guatemala
COP21 closed with the adoption the first universal agreement to combat climate change. This agreement pledges to contain global warming well below 2° C, adapt better to climate impacts, and enable a more effective flow of climate change funding to developing countries. This is truly innovative because it will commit countries to be publically accountable regarding everything they do to combat climate change at the national level. The new global climate agreement does not impose quotas for reducing greenhouse gas emissions nor concrete adaptation plans. On the contrary, it relies directly on the commitments that each country decides to make internally – intended nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This is why it is necessary to reach the set reduction target of 2° C. … Read more

Post-Paris: paving the way for zero carbon growth

18 Dec 2015 by - Jo Scheuer, Director of Climate Change and DRR, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP

women in mountainsIn 2016, we will build on our $2.3 billion climate portfolio across 140 countries and expand our support on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Photo: UNDP Turkey
Having witnessed the international community reach (and celebrate) a global climate deal in Paris last week, I have been reflecting on the journey that brought us here, as well as picturing the long but important road ahead. First, while there has been much talk about the relative significance of the Paris agreement, I would like to echo a sentiment expressed by the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert: the deal is a success simply because the alternative was no deal at all. Business as usual is not an option, and the Paris agreement, while not perfect, is a landmark that brings together 196 parties. The bottom-up nature of the agreement is certainly a worthy first step. … Read more