Natural Resources, Climate and Biodiversity: Resilience Strategies for Sustainable Development
Presented by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Germany, and the UN Environment Programme - International Resource Panel (UNEP-IRP)
Karsten Sach, BMU, Germany
The event considered challenges and potential strategies for integrating policies and actions on natural resources, climate change and biodiversity.
Karsten Sach, BMU, Germany, opened the event. Noting “so little” coordination between international streams on climate change, biodiversity and resource efficiency, he highlighted the need for better connections and synergies among these three areas to realize decarbonization and sustainability.
Moderator Yvon Slingenberg, European Commission, highlighted the Commission’s long-term strategy to become carbon neutral by 2050 as an example of an integrated approach.
Hans Bruyninckx, UNEP-IRP and Executive Director, European Environment Agency (EEA), stressed the importance of addressing transformative action to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by focusing on sustainable consumption and production as a key driver. He said that decoupling economic growth from all environmental pressures and transforming to a circular economy can, by 2050, reduce the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions from materials by 56%. He explained that the mobility sector provides a highly attractive vision for passenger cars for 70% emission reductions. He concluded by highlighting the importance of building and broadening the coalitions of science-policy interfaces such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and the UNEP-IRP.
Yasuo Takahashi, Ministry of the Environment, Japan, noted that the discussion on integration in the context of the SDGs is moving fast in Japan, and explained that Japan’s new Fifth Basic Environmental Plan takes an integrated approach. He said the Plan promotes a concept of “Regional Circular and Ecological Spheres,” where local regions complement each other to optimize the use of natural resources to ensure a self-reliant, resilient society through material and energy circulation and harmony with nature.
Stressing the missing link between resource efficiency and climate change, Carlos Gentile, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Argentina, said Argentina’s new Cabinet for Climate Change tries to tackle the challenge by involving all ministers and the private sector. He outlined Argentina’s efforts towards building a circular economy, including through: green public procurement; building resilient infrastructure; ensuring sustainable food systems; and enhancing sustainable entrepreneurship.
Anne Miehe, BMU, Germany, underlined the challenges of unequal distribution of resources between the rich and the poor and extreme weather events in Germany, and highlighted the need to address these to achieve the SDGs. Saying that whether this work succeeds or fails is “up to us policymakers.”
Bruyninckx suggested that governments develop a clear target on material use aligning with the Paris Agreement and natural capital protection, and impose appropriate taxes, subsides, and regulation on capital markets. He also called for the private sector to focus more on “what we should stop doing,” citing the example of biofuels.
In the ensuing discussion, participants considered: the importance of a 3Rs approach (reuse, reduce and recycle); the need to raise awareness among future generations; and the potential role of research and development (R&D) and innovation in linking climate, biodiversity and resource efficiency.
Moderator Yvon Slingenberg, European Commission
Hans Bruyninckx, UNEP-IRP and EEA Executive Director
Yasuo Takahashi, Ministry of the Environment, Japan
Carlos Gentile, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Argentina
Climate Policy: Just, In Time, and People-Centered
Presented by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), Germanwatch, and the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU)
Family photo at the end of the event
This event explored integrated policy perspectives for promoting just transitions to low-carbon economies that ensure workers and vulnerable peoples are not negatively affected in the process. Christoph Bals, Germanwatch, introduced and moderated the event, noting the importance of generating new and provocative ideas in the wake of recent scientific developments.
Joachim Schellnhuber, Director Emeritus, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), raised the paradox inherent in a “just transition” to a low-carbon economy: vulnerable peoples and producers of carbon emissions need different forms of “justice.” He presented the results of a coal phaseout panel, which recommended funding a just transition through an “eco-tax,” and stressed that eventual climate migrants must be able to migrate with agency and dignity.
Denise Margaret Matias, Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme, presented a pilot project, which explores climate risk insurance for indigenous peoples. She explained that indigenous populations’ unique needs and vulnerabilities may require a new form of “meso-insurance,” where community organizations can aggregate the necessary funding. She concluded that such a project is necessary from both a climate justice and a business standpoint.
Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Germany, noted the challenge of laying a policy foundation that prepares for fundamental changes to the economy and society. She highlighted the need for a just transition that fosters climate action and stressed that developing plans with the public will generate the necessary transformation.
David Paul, Minister of Environment, Marshall Islands, expressed his country’s commitment to continue to lead by example by submitting a new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). He noted that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process needs to be inclusive, lauding Taiwan’s achievements towards their intended NDC despite not being a Party to the Convention.
Maja Göpel, WBGU, noting the importance of accelerating decarbonization, emphasized the need for multi-scale actions, including: streamlining international climate finance; transparent multi-stakeholder processes that include citizens; and connecting cities to encourage peer learning.
Dirk Messner, WBGU, highlighted that decarbonization requires ensuring legitimacy and dignity to avoid resistance. He said it must also address the interests of all, particularly those without a voice, including future generations. He concluded by stressing that the sustainability transition is not only about technological and industrial revolution, but also about moral revolution, requiring mindset changes by all people in the world.
In the question-and-answer following the panel, participants elaborated on: the idea of a “climate passport” for climate migrants; practical ways of honestly engaging people in the transition; and combating right-wing populism.
Denise Margaret Matias, Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme
Joachim Schellnhuber, PIK
Participants listen to Joachim Schellnhuber’s presentation
Moderator Christoph Bals, Germanwatch
Svenja Schulze, Federal Minister for the Environment, Germany
David Paul, Minister of Environment, Marshall Islands
Maja Göpel, WBGU
Participants applaud after Denise Margaret Matias’s presentation
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