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UN system in Europe and Central Asia calls on countries to better include environmental and climate change perspectives in their recovery plans

Plant growing in natural environment

UN Resident Coordinators based in the countries of Europe and Central Asia have noted that most countries are prioritizing economic recovery during the COVID-19 period and that environmental perspectives are often ignored. The regional interagency Issue-based Coalition on Environment and Climate Change is thus issuing a compendium of measures  to provide guidance and tools and practical examples for assisting countries in integrating environmental and climate change into their recovery strategies and supporting a green recovery.  

Making use of the diverse expertise of the 18 member organizations of the Coalition, the Compendium compiles 20 measures for a green post-COVID-19 recovery, grouped under nine main categories: 

  • Waste management and circularity (Measures 9 & 14)  

  • Environmental sustainability and green economy (Measures 5 & 19)  

  • Sustainable consumption and production (Measures 7 & 17)  

  • Clean energy transition (Measures 1, 2, 10, 11 & 12)  

  • Nature-based solutions (Measures 4, 6, 8 & 13)  

  • Natural resources management (Measure 15)  

  • Disaster risk reduction and resilience building (Measures 3, 21, 22 & 23)  

  • Governance and risk-informed decision-making (Measure 18 & 20)  

  • Transboundary, regional and global cooperation (Measure 16) 

One measure, for example, is to provide equitable access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene through investment in resilient water and sanitation infrastructure and systematic hygiene services provision for all and in all settings. The burden of inadequate access to water and sanitation is often felt disproportionately by women and girls. According to WHO estimates, $1 spent on improving sanitation brings a return of $5 by keeping people healthy and productive. Cases studies from Armenia and Tajikistan illustrate practical approaches. 

Each measure is accompanied by a description, the identification of its benefits and a case study or two from the UNECE region. There is reference to both the activities of UN agencies, funds and programmes and their guidance materials. The measures identified remain complementary to other activities carried out by the Coalition members directly. 

The Coalition presented the compendium to UN Country Teams and Resident Coordinator offices at a dedicated webinar on 19 January, with the aim of gathering feedback. Representatives of Coalition members WHO, UNDP and UNEP showcased measures related to water management, energy efficiency and sustainable tourism, as well as some financing opportunities. 

The compendium is a follow-up to summary recommendations for pandemic socioeconomic assessments and post-pandemic recovery strategies issued in the autumn. The recommendations were intended to provide guidance to UN country teams in assessing the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and in beginning to work with Governments on a green recovery. 

Preparation of the compendium was led by UNECE, UNEP and UNESCO, with significant inputs from the other members of the Coalition: FAO, ILO, IOM, ITU, OHCHR, UN-Habitat, UN-Women, UNDP, UNDRR, UNFCCC, UNICEF, UNOPS, WFP, WHO and WMO. The development of the compendium was supported by funding from the United Nations regular programme of technical cooperation. 

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