[...] let us commit today, now, to sweeping climate action that can lay the foundations for a world of health, security and prosperity for all.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, High-level Roundtable of Climate Ambition, New York, September 2020
Climate change is recognized as one of the greatest global challenges, requiring enhanced coordination and cooperation at all levels to protect the global climate for the well-being of present and future generations of humankind (A/RES/72/219).
The United Nations system has been at the forefront of efforts to address climate change and continues to play an important role in supporting Member States in their efforts to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, increase countries’ ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience.
In preparation for the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, the Secretary-General asked the UN system to raise the level of its internal ambitions and to intensify its efforts to combat climate change from within to highlight that the UN is “walking the talk” on environmental sustainability and climate change.
In support of the Secretary-General’s vision of an action-oriented climate summit and his call to raise the level of internal ambitions and leverage the collective capacities of the UN system, the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) endorsed the Joint Appeal from the UN System to the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit developed through its High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP).
In the appeal, addressed to Member States, the leaders of UN system organizations recognized the existential threat posed by climate change and the urgent need for global action to mitigate related risks. CEB invited world leaders to raise ambitions and accelerate action to jointly combat climate change. The appeal calls upon Member States to take climate action in the fields of mitigation, adaptation, climate finance and innovation, while stressing the UN’s commitment to supporting such efforts.
The UN further committed itself to increased coordinated efforts towards enhancing the organization’s own environmental and social sustainability and reaching climate neutrality in internal operations by 2020.
The Secretary-General and the UN system leadership remain highly committed to addressing climate change across the organization’s work, both internally and in support of Member States, and the joint appeal may be seen as a shared touchpoint. The Secretary-General and CEB members constantly reiterate and address the core elements of the appeal as the UN works as a system to promote and support climate action.
UN Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020-2030, Phase 1
In May 2019, the CEB endorsed the first phase of its Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020-2030 (CEB/2019/1/Add.1). In the document, developed under the leadership of the UN Environment Management Group and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Board presents a common vision and strategy for internal system-wide sustainability in the area of management beyond 2020. Based on the analysis of existing efforts, results and gaps, the strategy offers a unified vision for the UN to lead on sustainability that is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. More information on efforts to bring sustainability in the UN system business processes here.
UN Common Approach to Biodiversity
In the spring of 2021, the CEB endorsed the "Common approach to integrating biodiversity and nature-based solutions for sustainable development into the United Nations policy and programme planning and delivery", developed through the High-level Committee on Programmes.
Through the common approach, the UN system commits to mainstream biodiversity and catalyze collective action to address the drivers of biodiversity loss, restore ecosystems and ultimately living in harmony with nature. It provides the normative framework, in a result-based structure, to organize collective action and joint delivery to mainstream biodiversity and nature-based solutions.
By leveraging the convening power and expertise from across the UN system, the common approach on biodiversity will contribute to support the implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework in alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
It contains 15 medium term objectives, in partnership with governments, business and civil society. They set the overall strategic intent, and each contribute to at least one of the three impact areas: (i) human rights, peaceful societies and planetary stability; (ii) a green and inclusive economic recovery; and (iii) strengthened institutions, accountability and justice.
Additional information can be found on the biodiversity topic page.
Supporting climate action in the context of the 2030 Agenda
In the lead-up to the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP 21) in December 2015, CEB issued a joint statement on climate change in which the Principals pledged to provide strong and coherent support to Member States in addressing climate change as an integral part of the implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
To this end, the UN system is strengthening its coordinated approach to supporting climate action in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As a first step, in April 2016, the Board agreed on "Common Core Principles for a UN System-wide Approach to Climate Action.”
In order to operationalize the principles, CEB, at its session in April 2017, adopted a “UN system strategic approach on climate change action” to guide the UN system’s collective commitment to improving collaboration and serve as a tool for delivering effective support to Member States for integrated action in the areas of climate change and sustainable development.