- Meeting or Conference
- Geneva Environment Network (GEN); Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR)
- 05 Jun 2014
- Switzerland (Geneva)
- International Environment House II, 7-9 chemin de Balexert
Background on World Environment Day
Every year on 5 June millions of people across the planet celebrate World Environment Day, coming together at community, national and regional level to promote positive action on the most pressing environmental challenges of our day.
World Environment Day 2014
In support of the UN designation of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), World Environment Day this year adopts SIDS in the broader context of climate change as its theme.
World Environment Day aims to build momentum towards the Third International Conference on SIDS in September and to encourage a greater understanding of the importance of SIDS and of the urgency to help protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities, particularly as a result of climate change.
Climate change is foremost among these challenges as global warming is causing ocean levels to rise. According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global sea levels are rising at an increasing rate, which is projected to be even greater this century. When global temperature warms, seawater expands and occupies more space. Sea levels also rise when ice melts. Coastal communities in every country are then threatened with floods and storm surges to which these small islands are most exposed.
Small Island Developing States have contributed little to climate change. Their combined annual output of greenhouse gases is less than one per cent of total global emissions, but their position on the front lines has projected many to the fore in negotiations for a universal new legal climate agreement in 2015.
Others are leaders in disaster preparedness and prevention or are working to achieve climate neutrality through the use of renewable energy and other approaches
Small island nations share a common understanding that we need to set our planet on a sustainable path. This demands the engagement of all sectors of society in all countries.
This year’s global host for World Environment Day is Barbados, one of many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) facing multi-dimensional issues that require integrated global action.
Barbados’s transition to a green economy offers opportunities for managing natural capital, further diversifying the economy, increasing resource efficiency and supporting the goals of poverty reduction and sustainable development.
Events in Geneva on Thursday 5 June
PEDRR Seminar : "From Natural Disasters to Natural Defenses - Seeing Nature as a Part of the Solution" (11:30 - 12:30)
The past year saw the highest number of billion- dollar weather disasters across the globe. The U.K. is experiencing the most exceptional period of rainfall in 248 years and the Philippines is still recovering from one of the most powerful typhoons on record. Science is struggling to provide robust evidence about the extent to which these disasters are “natural”, whether caused by climate change, or people having encroached into hazardous areas – or a combination of all the above.The IPCC’s recent Fifth Assessment report – “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis” clearly links climate changes with human activity, “Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.” Although the IPCC SREX report provided much evidence linking climate change with some extreme events, mainly heat waves and sea level rise, it left questions as to whether all extreme events – such as typhoons and flooding are climate change-induced or rather due to increased exposure through poor land use planning.
As preparations toward the Hyogo Framework for Action post-2015 accelerate, pressure is being placed on scientists to provide accurate, non-politicized answers to guide policy decisions on disaster risk reduction and climate change actions. In parallel, policy makers are increasingly realizing the limits of conventional solutions to protecting its citizens from disasters. River dykes, sea walls, dams and other engineered protection measures no longer suffice to reduce increasingly unpredictable hazard events. Rather, governments are increasingly seeking more natural defenses for disaster risk reduction through programmes such as “making space for water” in several European countries, green belts along the coast of Japan or investing in sand dunes and green spaces in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The goal of this PEDRR quarterly seminar is to explore the question whether nature is to blame or should it be promoted as a solution for reducing disaster risks. To what extent are policy makers willing to embrace natural defenses as solutions, and what are the barriers to such strategies being implemented as part of the HFA post 2015 policy arena?
World Environment Roundtable : "Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level : Climate change, SIDS, Disaster Risk Reduction" (14h-15h30)
In support of the UN designation of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), WED this year will adopt SIDS in the broader context of climate change as its theme. Our objectives are to help build momentum towards the Third International Conference on SIDS in September and encourage a greater understanding of the importance of SIDS and of the urgency to help protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities, particularly as a result of climate change. We believe WED will be an excellent opportunity to raise a call for solidarity with the islands.
Every year, the roundtable organized by the Geneva Environment Network for the WED gathers all relevant stakeholders working in environmental issues at the international level. As Geneva is a hub for Risk Reduction and Resilience issues, this year the panel discussion will be focussed on SIDS, Climate Change and Disaster Reduction. The roundtable will be followed by official speeches by UNEP and local authorities representatives. A reception after the panel discussion will be offered by the Swiss and local authorities. This will be the occasion for the all the attendees to engage with each other.
Jan DUSIK, UNEP Regional Director
Elizabeth LONGWORTH, UNISDR Director
H.E. Marioni WILLIAMS, Barbados Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office, and other international organizations in Geneva
Josef HESS, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment Vice-Director
Official speaches and reception
A few partners will have booths to provide information on their work, particularly on SIDS & Risk Reduction issues.
- Environment & Ecosystems, Disaster Risk Management