United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

medium_Laurel_2012.jpegThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

The United Nations (UN) is even more fond of initials and acronyms than International Standards Organisation (ISO), so it is with a certain degree of weariness that we see yet another truckload heading our way. The latest, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is a programme that is meant to help countries to improve peoples’ quality of life without jeopardising that of generations yet to come. Lofty ideals indeed, but how can it be possible to reconcile both objectives within a single strategy?

The problem is that the concept of caring for the environment is vested in the ethos of developed nations. Until only a few decades ago the environment was just there, taking care of itself and more something to be battled against than embraced. It wasn’t treated and considered in the abstract, but as a resource to be exploited. Whether one agrees with the climate change data or not, exploitation of natural resources from fish through to air was the byword for capitalism until lately.

Suddenly people started to realise that resources previously taken for granted are in fact finite, even the air. The environment is everyone’s responsibility and so UNEP wants to marry two apparently opposite sets of values. UNEP’s goal is to inspire countries and their peoples to improve their lives, but to do so without wrecking the environment. It seems an almost impossible task, particularly since it is the developed countries who are most strident, and yet who have also wrought the most damaging havoc on the environment in pursuit of their own interests.

As part of its efforts, UNEP is working with Climate Action and hosting the Sustainable Innovation Forum on the 6th December this year in Doha, alongside the UNFCCC COP18 (United Nations Framework on Climate Change & 18th Conference of the Parties, which means the countries involved). This is a top dogs only event and it will be looking at ways of bringing the global green economy into existence. The event used to be called the Climate Action Networking Reception so the name change should give it a bit more gravitas, with the emphasis more on work than on what sounds like wine and canapés. A series of panel sessions consider Public-Private-Partnerships: Creating Effective Alliances for Building Green Economies; Sustainable cities: Examining the future for our urban population; and Technology and Innovation: Accelerating the green economy. This event is restricted to representatives of governments and NGOs, specialised agencies and related organisations but not specifically people from industry.

This seems a little weird because it is industry that will drive environmentally aware and green economic development. So we urge printing industry associations everywhere to consider getting involved in this event. Details at http://bit.ly/JegFnY

– Laurel Brunner

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