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Great Green Wall tops UN actions supporting SDGs, G20 agenda

The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative (GGWSSI) has been listed among the United Nation’s several exemplary actions that support the UN Sustainable Goals and the G20 programme.

The metaphoric Great Green Wall will provide sustainable alternatives for millions of young people considering migrating from poverty-stricken areas in Africa’s Sahel region. Photo credit: theodysseyonline.com

This is coming even as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Bonn, Germany on Thursday, February 16 2017 to engage with G20 foreign affairs ministers on the issues of Africa and sustainability. It is the new UN chief’s first visit to Bonn since taking office this year.

Bonn is a UN hub for sustainability and home to 18 UN organisations that all deal with global topics central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which contains the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The foreign affairs ministers are preparing for the G20 Heads of State and Government Summit that will take place in Hamburg, Germany, in July this year. The focus is on achieving the 2030 Agenda and on greater cooperation with Africa with the aim of maintaining peace, eliminating extreme poverty and achieving sustainable development while addressing the environmental and climate change challenges at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.

The mandate of the United Nations in Bonn (UN Bonn) “Shaping a sustainable future” is said to focus on policies and actions to address these challenges.

One of such is the GGWSSI, an African-led initiative to create a new “World Wonder” of greenery that runs 8,000 km long and 15 km wide from east to west Africa along the Sahel, with a view to improve land productivity and vitality, as well as “growing solutions” for livelihoods.

The UN describes the Great Green Wall initiative as a powerful vehicle that brings 13 countries together to create local jobs and economic opportunities to safeguard the livelihoods of the local people in the long term and sequester carbon for global environmental resilience.

These countries are: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan.

The GGWSSI is being implemented by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

Another major UN Bonn action borders on advancing the Paris Agreement, which entered into force last year and has set the world on a path towards low carbon development and greater resilience to climate change.

The secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is preparing to host the next major UN climate change conference (COP23) in Bonn in November 2017, and will take place under the Presidency of Fiji.

The global forum will advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Part of the work of the UNFCCC secretariat is to showcase inspiring examples of climate action, including under its “Momentum for Change” initiative.

Other actions include:

Online Volunteering

Every year about 7,000 UN Volunteers (UNV) on site and about 12,000 UN Online Volunteers help impact positively around 5.7 million beneficiaries. Get involved via UN online volunteering allows organisations and volunteers to team up to address sustainable development challenges – anywhere in the world, from any device.


Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development

Leading thinkers, policy-makers, business leaders and civil society activists will in March 2017 gather in Germany for the first ever Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development, to chart new thinking and generate actions towards the world’s biggest development challenges at the World Conference Centre in Bonn.


Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production

Among the findings of this first IPBES thematic assessment – the result of two years of intensive work by 77 experts from around the world – was that up to $577 billion of annual global food production relies directly on pollinators, but that 16% of vertebrate pollinators are threatened with extinction. With key messages and a range of suggested policy actions to safeguard pollinators, the Assessment speaks very directly to the priorities of the G20 Working Group on Agriculture and the T20 Taskforce on Ending Hunger and Sustainable Agriculture. Among the next IPBES assessments already underway is one on land degradation and restoration – which will also align very closely with G20 and T20 policy priorities.


United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security

The mission of the Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) is to carry out cutting edge research on risks and adaptation related to environmental hazards and global change. Its experts have recently concluded the largest national household survey into climate change and migration in the Pacific, with the newly-published results providing a valuable insight into the themes of resilience and adaptation.

Groundbreaking research also analyses the interplay between environmental and societal factors in the Mekong Delta, Nepal and Bangladesh.  Additionally, through the Munich Climate Insurance Initiative, UNU-EHS experts contribute to the G7 Initiative on Climate Risk Insurance.


Leading through Learning

The UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development was established to respond to the comprehensive learning, training, and knowledge management needs of UN staff and external partners in the context of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement. To this end, the Knowledge Centre supports the policy and operational work of the UN through the development of learning tools, platforms for interaction and a mature set of learning offerings for UN staff.


European Environment and Health Process

The European Environment and Health Process, driven by the World Health Organisation (WHO), sits within the context of system-wide strategic planning, implementation and reporting of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, to ensure coherent and integrated support for implementation across countries, sectors and United Nations fora.

The platform focuses on Sustainable Development target 3.9 and on another 16 Sustainable Development Goals that have the greatest potential to protect and improve health and well-being under pressure from global environmental change, including climate change; demographic changes such as longevity, migration and urbanisation; and emerging global economic and technological developments.

The UN Bonn is made up of 18 organisations covering a broad UN mandate that includes climate change, land degradation, volunteerism, biodiversity and ecosystem services, wildlife conservation, health, human security, disaster risk reduction, tourism, as well as education and training and satellite-based information systems.

The organisations support governments and peoples to find answers and ways to achieve a sustainable future by promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and their conservation for future generations, and the global fight against poverty.

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