Climate Change Policy & Practice Bulletin
A New Year Message
Richard Sherman
Climate Change Policy & Practice Project Manager
A statement released in November 2008 by the Presiding Officers of the International Labour Office’s Governing Body notes “preliminary but pervasive evidence that the financial crisis is taking its toll on the global economy. Latest economic forecasts suggest economic growth in all regions will be substantially lower in 2008 than originally forecast and much lower in 2009. No country will be spared, although the impact will differ greatly from one region and country to another.”  A week later, delegates from 92 countries attending the International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus expressed their “deep concern that the international community is now challenged by the severe impact on development of multiple, interrelated global crises and challenges,” highlighting increased food insecurity, volatile energy and commodity prices, climate change and a global financial crisis. Meanwhile, at the UN Climate Change Conference – Poznań in December, climate negotiators and high-level delegates highlighted the recurring concern regarding the impact of the rapidly worsening global financial situation on the global climate response and its implications for a Copenhagen Deal in December 2009.

While there is no silver bullet to these current and impending crises, the path to Copenhagen, as many have highlighted, will need to resolve the thorny issue of political coherence between the international financial situation and the urgent need for climate-friendly investments for mitigation, adaptation and technology. Dire as the situation may be, and while 2008 highlighted the troika of threats – the food and energy, climate, and financial crises – facing the international community, the UN’s response aimed to focus global political attention and public awareness on a “New Green Deal.” As we welcome the new year, this response provides the global village with a new beacon of hope, with many high level officials noting that the multiple crises provide the opportunity to lay the foundation for a new approach, and that UN leadership is ready and willing to lead the change for a new economic growth paradigm.

In his opening statement to the Poznań High Level Segment, on 11 December 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that 2009 is “the year of climate change.” With only twelve months to Copenhagen, Secretary-General Ban reiterated his call for a “Green New Deal” and expressed his resolve that the UN family would “deliver as one” and support governments in “implementing all agreements under the UNFCCC.” Ban and a growing number of UN leaders have argued that the solution to the financial crisis must include a focus on labor-intensive projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help communities adapt to climate change, noting that the transition to a low-carbon economy can create millions of jobs. The emphasis on green jobs has seen numerous new initiatives being launched by UN agencies, including UNEP, UNIDO, ILO, UNDP and UNCTAD. Furthermore, the UN family has jointly released research highlighting the potential of green industries and green jobs, with some estimates suggesting that the global market for environmental products and services could double from US$1.37 trillion per year at present to US$2.74 trillion by 2020.

In this final issue of the Climate Change Policy & Practice BULLETIN, we have compiled stories included in Climate Change Policy & Practice in 2008 that revisit the innovative work already underway in the UN system to address the nexus between economic growth, financial stability and climate change. From this brief recap, it is clear that the initial undertakings of the UN system could awaken the sleeping giant for climate action – a new economic growth model, increased action from the private sector, and renewed leadership from finance and trade ministers.

The issues addressed in this edition underscore the importance of IISD’s initiative to profile the UN’s response to the Bali Action Plan. In May 2008, in cooperation with the UN system agencies, funds and programmes through the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination Secretariat, and with initial and second phase funding from the British and Swiss Governments, IISD Reporting Services launched the Climate Change Policy & Practice website. Through our daily news feeds and updates, IISD’s team of thematic experts has highlighted the how, what and when of a myriad of multilateral responses, and the growing frameworks of cooperation that have arisen from the UN system’s leadership and their growing intergovernmentally-agreed mandates to respond to climate change. Under the guidance of the Secretary-General and the Heads of the UN family of agencies and bodies, the UN system has responded in numerous ways, launching new cooperative initiatives and spearheading new approaches to “delivering as one” for the climate system.

In the upcoming “year of climate change,” we will continue to not only report on the work of the Ad Hoc Working Groups and the official UNFCCC sessions via the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, but also increase our contribution to climate coherence via the Climate Change Policy & Practice initiative. We will implement some new and innovative changes on the Climate Change Policy & Practice website, with the aim of revealing the numerous intergovernmental and UN system activities and highlighting the interconnected and unprecedented global response already underway. We will also bring you our guest articles and coherence pieces in the Daily Feed that we began producing at the end of 2008.

As we all reflect on 2008’s climate outcomes and prepare for the next phase in our collective journey to Copenhagen in December 2009, we would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers, UN system partners, and the international climate change community a happy, peaceful and productive 2009.

The Climate Change Policy & Practice Team

ILO. 2008. Landmark new report says emerging green economy could create tens of millions of new “Green Jobs” (24 September). Internet.
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