GED at UN Environment Assembly, Nairobi, 2014

Green Economies Dialogue Participates at the United Nations Environment Assembly, Nairobi, Kenya, June 21-27, 2014

Brian Flannery, Chair, Green Economies Dialogue, and Norine Kennedy, USCIB, were active participants at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) that met for the first time in Nairobi, Kenya. Decisions taken at Rio + 20 restructured the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to include universal membership and established UNEA to replace the Governing Council as its top decisions making body. UNEA’s discussions unfolded in the context of negotiations underway in the UN General Assembly to agree on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the role that UNEP will play to achieve them.

The Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF), co-chaired by Norine Kennedy, convened on the weekend ahead of the formal UNEA sessions. Organized by civil society groups attending UNEA, the Forum provides an opportunity for participants from civil society, governments, UN agencies and others to prepare for and discuss central issues ahead of the formal meetings. The Forum’s High Level Segment considered four themes—each led by a member of UNEP staff and an expert from civil society—including a segment on Financing the Green Economy—a major topic throughout the week.

Peter Cruickshank of UNEP’s Finance Initiative described efforts being developed by UNEP and others to mobilize investment at a scale sufficient to transform the economy to address challenges in energy, agriculture, protection and restoration of ecosystems, biodiversity and other arenas. Estimates from various sources suggest that an additional one trillion dollars per year or more of investment might be required. Success will require public policy and finance that can leverage private finance. In responding Dr. Flannery (see presentation) explained that it is necessary to consider not only public and private financial firms but also the operating companies who must design, construct and operate projects as part of their commercial enterprise. Also, operating companies often finance their own projects. Private firms will be unable to invest in green projects unless they generate an appropriate, risk-adjusted commercial return on capital invested. As well, many innovative technologies that might provide solutions to green challenges also face significant uncertainty because they lack definitive legislative, regulatory and permitting frameworks. Consequently, project approvals may face significant delays. Flannery summed up as follows: the key issue in financing the green economy is not so much raising funds, as confidence in returns from successful projects.

Green Economies Dialogue also organized a side event: UNEP, the Sustainable Development Goals and Business that was co-hosted by The International Organization of Employers (IOE) and The International Council of Chemicals Associations (ICCA). The event discussed new green growth challenges and priorities linked to the SDGs relevant to UNEP’s environmental mandate, which include economic growth, jobs, sustainable consumption and production, resource efficiency.  Business speakers highlighted the necessary enabling frameworks in trade, investment and innovation and the need for good governance and rule of law that must be reflected in the SDGs to support private sector contributions to economic and environmental progress. The event also provided an opportunity to showcase existing efforts and discuss ways that business might work in partnership with UNEP to foster progress on the sustainable development goals. (see Agenda )

Speakers at the GED event included:

–  Brian P. Flannery, Chair, International Business Green Economies Dialogue

–  Simon Darlington, President, East Africa, Alstom

–  Martina Otto, UNEP Climate and Clean Air Partnership, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics

–  Norine Kennedy, USCIB

–  Lena Perrenius, International Council of Chemicals Associations ICCA

–  Isabella Coche, International Fertilizer Association & Croplife (see Presentation)

–  Weru Macharia, Kenyan representative, International Organisation of Employers

–  Patricia Beneke, UNEP Regional Office for North America

–  Helen Marquard, executive director, the SEED Initiative (see Presentation)

–  Charles Arden Clarke, U.N. Environment Program 10 Year Framework of Programs on Sustainable Consumption and Production