Assessment report
Marine litter: Vital graphics
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Grid-Arendal

Every year, the sum of humanity’s knowledge increases exponentially. And as we learn more, we also learn there is much we still don’t know. Plastic litter in our oceans is one area where we need to learn more, and we need to learn it quickly. That’s one of the main messages in Marine Litter Vital Graphics. Another important message is that we already know enough to take action.


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2016
Monograph
The United Kingdom: Global Hub, Local Dynamics - Mapping the transition to a sustainable financial system
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The UK’s transition towards a sustainable financial system is shaped by a dynamic between domestic green economy priorities and its role as a global financial centre. With financial assets worth eight times annual GDP, the UK financial system is disproportionately large when compared to the underlying domestic economy. The City of London is not only home to some of the world’s largest financial markets, but also to a range of sustainable finance initiatives that are setting the agenda both domestically and internationally. Historically, it was the key location in the initial rise of carbon markets and a leader in the integration of environmental, social and governance factors into institutional investment. It is now a pioneer in confronting climate risk. The UK has also become a global centre for Islamic Finance, a striking example of how the public and private sectors have cooperated to develop a strategic competence in a growing area of values-based finance. The crisis that followed the 2008 credit crunch had enormous costs for the UK economy, and profoundly impacted the structure and governance of UK financial markets. The continued prevalence of market abuse and high-profile scandals in the aftermath of the crisis has inspired a renewed vigour by regulators and legislators, with recent efforts to restore trust and public confidence focusing on market integrity and professional conduct. Importantly, the focus on stability risk has also changed the ways in which sustainability is being considered by firms and regulators – notably by shifting attention from the institutional to the systemic level. Over the past 15 years, four “waves” of sustainable finance innovation have taken place in the UK, starting with ethical investment, moving to mainstreaming environmental factors into institutional investment, the surge of post-crisis reform and the current focus on climate and carbon risk. Across these, a UK model of innovation emerges – one starting with social entrepreneurs and civil society organizations raising expectations for financial institutions, practitioners competing to capitalize on new market expectations and finally regulation being introduced to universalize good practice. Currently, there are six priority areas for sustainable finance in the UK: 1. Social innovation: aligning finance with individual values and social purpose – for example, from leading work on ‘unburnable’ carbon and stranded assets to new thinking about the overall purpose of the financial system. 2. Institutional stewardship: placing sustainability factors at the heart of mainstream financial sectors, most notably investment management – for example, the Law Commission’s review of fiduciary duty. 3. Capital market mobilization: incorporating sustainability into equity and debt market disclosure, analysis and capital raising – for example, mandatory reporting of greenhouse gases on the London Stock Exchange. Green bonds are also critical growth area: the UK was the third largest green bond market in 2015. 4. Housing finance: improving the environmental and energy performance of the UK’s housing stock through new ways to mobilize financing – for example, finding a practical successor to the Green Deal mechanism. 5. Prudential governance: embedding sustainability into the safety and soundness of key sectors and the system as a whole – for example, the Bank of England’s review of insurance and climate change. 6. Public balance sheet: mobilizing fiscal and other resources to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon, green economy – for example, the launch of the world’s first Green Investment Bank. The UK’s leadership in many areas is clear. But sustainability could perhaps be classified as a ‘sleeping giant’ of the financial system. Initial innovation is sometimes developed in the UK, but then deepened by fast followers in other markets. Many of the promising initiatives are also relatively new and will need careful nurturing to flourish. Heading into 2016, the global momentum is likely to intensify, not least through China’s decision to make green finance a core theme of its G20 Presidency, launching a new study group co-chaired by China and the UK, for which UNEP will act as secretariat. Domestically, the dialogues that contributed to this country report revealed significant enthusiasm for the development of a clear roadmap for sustainable finance in the UK. This would seek to build on existing innovations, overcome key bottlenecks and identify shared priorities for future action. A number of countries are introducing national roadmaps – notably China and Indonesia – and based on the findings of this report, a UK Sustainable Finance Strategy could take forward the following priorities: - Deepen sustainability disclosure and analytics: Disclosure on UK capital markets is improving, but could be deepened on climate, food and water. - Confirm the sustainability dimensions of stewardship, fiduciary duty and investment structure: Improving sustainability performance in the investment chain is not just a question of rules, but also developing pension funds with the scale and capacity to deliver. - Establish a Green Bond Hub: A UK Green Bond Market Development Committee would help to consolidate existing market innovation and provide a platform for future growth. - Empower individual investors with the right information: Innovative use of communications technology could bring information on the sustainability of investment funds to the consumer, strengthening financial literacy. - Build on the track record of the Green Investment Bank: The Green Investment Bank has considerable potential to facilitate capital deployment as it moves into its next phase, addressing market failures that remain pressing issues. - Enhance financing for the greening of the UK’s homes: Breakthrough ideas are needed to develop ways of financing home retrofits that are attractive and compelling for the consumer. - Take a system-wide view on environmental risk: The Bank of England’s prudential review of insurance is world-leading, and the lessons could be applied to other sectors and parts of the system, such as banking and pension funds. - Explore the green potential of alternative finance: The UK is Europe’s leader in alternative finance – such as peer-to-peer – and this could be leveraged for the green economy. - Embed sustainability into financial culture: Following the crisis, considerable attention has been placed on improving financial culture. The sustainability dimension could now be incorporated as an additional motivational driver for improved conduct over the long-term.


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2016
Newsletter
UNEP in Africa Newsletter: May-June 2016
United Nations Environment Programme

The Newsletter of UNEP's Regional Office for Africa


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2016
Assessment report
Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP) Vol. 3: Transboundary river basins: Status and trends
UNEP-DHI, UNEP

This report presents the results of the first global assessment of transboundary river basins, prepared in partnership with UNEP-DHI (lead), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Stockholm International Water Institute, Oregon State University, The City University of New York Environmental CrossRoads Initiative, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network, the Delta Alliance, and the University of Kassel Center for Environmental Systems Research.


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2016
Infographics
CleanSeas: Marine litter
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Infographic highlighting the magntitude and the environmental cost of marine litter


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2016
Newsletter
UNEP in Africa newsletter: March - April 2016
United Nations Environment Programme

The Newsletter of UNEP's Regional Office for Africa


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2016
Monograph
Compendium of good practices on human rights and the environment
United Nations Environment Programme

The purpose of this compendium is to present good practices relating to the use of human rights obligations and commitments to inform, support and strengthen environmental policymaking, especially in the area of environmental protection that were identified through a joint programme between UNEP, the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment (formerly the Independent Expert), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).


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2016
Monograph
Contributions of the United Nations Environment Programme towards achieving the strategic plan of biodiversity (2011 - 2020 and the Aichi biodiversity targets
United Nations Environment Programme

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is committed to supporting Parties to the Convention. on Biological Diversity (CBD) in their efforts to achieving the Strategic Plan of Biodiversity (2011-2020) and the Aichi biodiversity targets. With more than one hundred projects spread across more than one hundred and twenty countries, UNEP’s contribution to the CBD, specifically in achieving the twenty Aichi targets, is the key focus of this report for information and consideration by the Parties to the CBD as well as the Member States of UNEP. It is noteworthy to mention that the UNEP’s Medium Term Strategy and Programme of Work are in close alignment with the priorities of not just the CBD but also other biodiversity related conventions with regard to programmatic issues related to biodiversity.


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2016
Sustainable Development Goals
State of ICT in Asia and the Pacific: Uncovering the widening broadband divide
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Africa and the Pacific

The digital technology has been fundamentally transforming not only the way we interact in society and the economy, but also the way the development paradigm is evolving. The Global Information Technology Report 2016, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in July 2016, highlights that the digital revolution is changing the nature of innovation, which is increasingly based on the digital technology and associated new business models. Encouraging businesses to embrace the power of the digital technology, therefore, should be an imperative of governments. This requires, among others, the right governance frameworks to anticipate the impact of emerging technologies and react quickly to changing circumstances due to new economic and social dynamics. The WEF report concludes that the role of technology, broadband in particular, is critical to drive growth and enable collaborative innovation in many areas, from production to processes


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2016
Monograph
Environment, religion and culture in the context of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development
United Nations Environment Programme

Critical action is needed by the international community to address urgent and increasing environmental degradation, and related challenges of social and economic unsustainability. Religion and culture can significantly address climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem loss, pollution, deforestation, desertification and unsustainable land and water use, and other urgent issues identified in a shared vision by all nations in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through integrating environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda, religious and cultural communities can also promote strong, inclusive, green, sustainable and transformative economies, based on circularity, sharing and collaboration, and alternative measures of growth and wellbeing. They can be instrumental in educating for more sustainable lifestyles and behaviours to achieve sustainable consumption and production, and in considering the impact of their actions on others. They can significantly contribute to ending extreme poverty, leaving no one behind when addressing multi-dimensional poverty and related challenges such as the rights of women, youth and minorities, and access for all to basic services. They can promote innovative nature-based solutions, respect for traditional knowledge and cultural diversity, exercise environmental stewardship and duty of care, build an ethic of global and local citizenship, promote good governance, tolerance, and reconciliation, and build safe, inclusive and peaceful societies. It has become more urgent than ever to promote and disseminate morals, values, behaviours and creative solutions conducive to attaining the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This universal agenda, and the emerging understanding of the points of religious agreement in environmental ethics, can be the corner stones for a common vision that enhances the role of religion and culture in achieving sustainability. Inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue can converge on a few insights, among them that of nature as sacred, and the rights of nature, both of which are shared by most organized religions and indigenous peoples, and many natural scientists. Among the many positive actions – large and small – are the 2030 Agenda and SDGs, and the Paris Climate Change. Agreement||the actions of faith based declarations and statements, especially in relation to climate change||the actions of indigenous cultural leaders in support of greater rights and respect of cultural diversity||and the 7 million voices that engaged in vision setting in the run up to the 2030 Agenda and SDGs. These have all come together in a historic year of 2015, and provide tremendous opportunities for building a global partnership for shifting the paradigm and addressing the crucial challenges of our era, both for humanity today as well as for future generations.


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2016