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Climate Professionals at International Organizations | #DCP2020 main stage - EP. 18

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

Mediation: Marianna Albuquerque, Centro Brasil no Clima (CBC)


Carlo Pereira, UN Global Compact

Daphne Besen, UN-Habitat

Raul Salazar, UNDRR

Lesson: We need to take a holistic approach when it comes to mitigating and adapting to the adverse effects of climate change, not only through the inclusion of all sectors (e.g. infrastructure, health, energy, social), but also through including all actors (government, private sector, scientific community and civil society).

This panel is moderated by Marianna Albuquerque. She works as a project coordinator for the Centro Brasil no Clima (CBC), a think tank focused on critical reflection, strategic action, and mobilization to tackle climate change. The CBC partners up with international organisations to build a climate agenda and implement national projects in Brazil, examples of partners are the European Union, The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Climate Reality Project. Marianna has a background in International Relations, she did both her Bachelor’s, Master’s and Phd in International Politics. Her studies were mainly focussed on the United Nations (UN). In her Phd research, Marianna got the opportunity to work together with the Brazilian delegation of the UN, right after the approval of the Paris Agreement. This was an important moment to show what collective action could do for the climate. If we are talking about a transnational challenge, we will need to think about a collective answer. This is exactly why international organisations are so relevant, these help us understand how we as an international society and community can tackle the adverse effects of climate change. Marianna will lead the conversation with Carlo Pereira (UN Global Compact) Bruna Gimba (UN-Habitat) and Raul Salazar (UNDRR). The specific topic of this panel will be the role of these international organisations in the climate crisis. The panellists are going to talk about what they doing within these organisations, the main skills required for you as a young professional to work in the climate sector, and how we can think about international organisations as a path to overcome our current climate crisis.

The first speaker is Raul Salazar, he is the current chief of The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Secretariat for the Americas and the Caribbean. This secretariat supports countries to implement a global framework called the ‘Sendai Framework’, which was adopted in 2015 by 184 countries. This framework agreed on the importance of taking measures against the adverse impacts of disasters, because these disasters have an immediate impact on the aspirations and development of the different countries in the region. Sometimes, disasters could even push back the development of a country or a region with 10-20 years. Raul gives the example of Haiti, where an earthquake in 2010 wiped out all the efforts that had been implemented in the country to realize certain levels of improvement of living conditions in the country. The impact of this earthquake was immense. Raul points out that disasters not only cause loss of human life, but also loss of economic activities. The Secretariat did some estimations about the impact of disasters on economic activities and found that the Americas and the Caribbean absorbed nearly 44% of all the economic losses that have happened around the world in the last 20 years. This is not in proportion to the population of the Americas and the Caribbean, as they only represent 1/10 of for example the population of Pacific-Asia. We need to reflect on what we are doing: What did we do wrong in the past and what can we do better in the future? This is basically the role of the office in the region: The office is reflecting constantly about these 2 questions. The connection between disaster risk reduction and climate change is very clear. Raul points out that in 50% of the earlier mentioned losses faced, almost 90% of these disasters were due to climate disasters. These disasters are basically the disasters related to climate, weather, hurricanes, floods, rains. Interestingly enough, the main focus of these disasters are not about the geological disasters, such as volcanoes and earthquakes. Linking the agenda of the disaster risk reduction (the Sendai-framework) with the climate agenda is therefore really important. Raul also shows a powerful video about why we should focus more on disaster prevention in the future, you could find the video HERE. Raul ends his speech with a call out for younger generations to help against the constant fight against disasters and focus on a more sustainable model of disaster recovery and disaster prevention.

Next up is Bruna Gimba from the UN-Habitat. She works as a Program Assistant at the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean at the United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat), supporting the implementation of projects focussed on cities and sustainable development. Bruna graduated in International Relations at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, she started her career as a Commercial Assistant at the Danish Consulate in Brazil, followed by an exchange program with the Brazilian embassy in Denmark. This is where Bruna started to get involved in events and initiatives about sustainable urban development. Bruna continued her career as a volunteer for the UN-habitat in Rio, where she quickly developed herself further as an intern, junior programme assistant and now as a programme assistant. Bruna starts with explaining the value of focussing on cities when it comes to climate change. We don’t always think about it, but since 2007 we live in an urban world and the rapid urbanization process is developing progressively, the way we look at development need to consider urban planning at all levels. The urban footprint is really impressive: Cities are responsible for more than 70% of carbon dioxide emissions and the main consumer of energy! Therefore, cities should be both the core of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Cities not only have the largest urban footprint, but are also the highest impacted by climate change. More than 70% of the cities are already dealing with the impacts of climate change. Every city is impacted in a different way, which leads to different ways of climate adaptation and mitigation. Especially important is the protection of more vulnerable groups of societies, such as the urban poor and minorities. Because cities are the most impacted, they are also a hub for solutions for the future. We often focus on SDG 13 when it comes to climate change, but SDG 11 is also important to take into account, especially since most of the population is living in cities nowadays. The UN-Habitat does not only adapt to shocks and stresses, but is also trying to build resilience through a holistic approach of sustainable development. Something that would be an innovation in UN-habitat would be the participatory approach that takes into account a community based adaptation, but also looking at a citywide planning (not only focussed on one community) and connecting with national adaptation and global effort sustainable development. Bruna ends with some current initiatives of the UN-Habitat, such as the Global Urban Resilience Hub, a knowledge platform where they collect best practices, innovations, and capacity building. Another initiative is ‘Making Cities Resilient 2030’, launched by the UNDRR and partners to work towards sustainable urbanization by taking proactive actions. Two other initiatives are the City Resilience Profiling Tool and Urban-LEDS (in collaboration with ICLEI). The UN-Habitat always tries to focus on the multifactor, no one and no place will be left behind! Marianna and Bruna continue the talk together about possible ways to get a job for the United Nations for all the people watching. One commonly used approach is to become a volunteer and grow further into a different position from the UN, but another viable option could be the Young Professionals Program (YPP). Check out more information HERE!

The last speaker is Carlo Pereira from UN Global Compact, the world largest corporate sustainability initiative. UN Global Compact works mainly with the private sector, based around sectors (and not based on specific subjects or themes). The network also includes all levels of governments and NGO’s, but these are mainly included to talk and focus on the private sector. The objective is to push companies to work with sustainable development. There are 10 principles divided into 4 categories: Environment, Human Rights, Labour and Anti-Corruption. There are more than 15.000 members and 70 local networks and operate in around 160 countries Carlos works for the UN Global Compact Brazil, which is the third largest network in the world. Carlos has more than 20 years of experience in corporate affairs and sustainability issues through working as an executive for the private sector and international institutions. There is a global initiative called ‘Caring for Climate’, a joint-initiative between UNEP and UNFCCC. This initiative tries to push companies to commit themselves to establishing targets for greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). The initiative helps to adapt the companies to the adverse effects of climate change and through advocacy. Carlo gives the example of UN Global Compact Brazil who tries to convince companies to talk to the government to put a price on carbon. Another initiative is called ‘1.5 degrees Celsius’, a joint initiative with many institutions. The initiative already led to 1.000 companies who voluntarily committed themselves on a target to reduce greenhouse emissions. The largest emitters in the world are not countries, but companies: The list of the 200 highest emitting countries and companies shows that 153 of them are companies. The 2 main emitting sectors are energy and transportation, mainly in the private sector. It is important to note that companies could also be an access point indirectly to the government. It is important to build a multi-stakeholder agenda, we cannot rely only on governments, because these are not the only emitters. We can also not put the burden only on the private sector, because the legislation and regulations come from the government. We need a cross-cutting approach that brings together all these sectors and actors, together with the scientific knowledge of academia and the prospects of civil society.

See the record of the talk below:


About the Day of the Climate Professional:

The Day of the Climate Professional (DCP), celebrated on November 24, is an annual date to celebrate and catalyse the professionals accelerating solutions to the climate crisis. The 2020 inaugural edition was marked by an all-day virtual summit—networking activities, workshops, keynote presentations, interactive Q&As, and more—fostering reflections and actions on the interdisciplinary of climate change, its urgency, and the importance of working to tackle it through varied professions and sectors of society. Learn More.



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