Canada News Agency

UN calls for cooperation in tackling environmental degradation

NAIROBI, Dec 3 -- The United Nations has called for cooperation between scientists, governments and non-state actors in tackling environmental degradation, according to Xinhua.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in a new report released on Sunday that despite well-developed global environmental governance, science-policy activity has to move toward supporting implementation of international environmental agreements in countries and regions.
"The achievement of the international agreements will require the cooperation of multitude decision-makers with divergent primary priorities, scientists from a wide-range," Pierre Boileau, head of the Global Assessment Unit at UNEP, said during the launch of the report in Nairobi.
Boileau said science-policy organizations require dedicated change processes to their governance models to have impact in the future, including providing information for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
"Achieving the SDGs requires scientific advice on complex interactions between goals achievement, which are dynamic, non-linear and uncertain," he said, adding that it is pointless to produce complex reports that produce uncertain outcomes.
The UNEP official suggested that it is crucial that gender mainstreaming is adopted in all science-policy activities, and failure of which might lead to policies that aggravate the existing unintended consequences that further intensify inequality.
The report says improved outcomes come from engaging policy-makers who hold significantly divergent viewpoints on the importance of the environment, but whose decisions influence environmental outcomes.
"The last 40 years have seen a significant expansion of scientific research into environmental challenges and their drivers, international environmental governance structures and international science-policy work on environmental issues, but the growth of this work has not been matched by a slowdown in environmental degradation," it says.
Instead, globally, the environment continues to deteriorate, and in some geographical areas the rate of this degradation is actually increasing, the report says.
The UN report calls for the incorporation of societal and cultural issues into scientific and technological research.
UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim said that science and policy are at a crossroads and need effective governance to promote better interaction.
"There is growing evidence that sound science can play an important role in creating the political will to shape policies that can deliver the SDGs," Solheim said.
He noted that with the growing momentum for change, international scientific experts have to realign their work to be more useful for policy-makers through the involvement of non-state actors.
The report highlights the importance of making high-quality scientific data easily available to the right people, such as access to air quality data showing tangible threats to human health.

by Peter Mutai