United we stand: reforming the UN to reduce climate risk

  • 06/07/2016
  • E3G

With the completion of the Paris Agreement in December of last year, the international community fashioned a universal accord on climate change. As a new E3G Report, United We Stand: Reforming the United Nations to Reduce Climate Risk, makes clear, however, Paris is only one part of the equation. The problem, which this report tries to address, is that the international system’s ability to deal with climate risk – the impacts from climate change that are already occurring – is fragmentary and ad hoc. Ultimately, in the eyes of report authors Camilla Born and Nick Mabey, the United Nations will have to take the lead in institutionalizing climate risk management in its own operations and making sure those innovations and reforms filter down to individual member-states. Part of this transition process is moving from setting an agenda to instituting the norms, procedures, and bureaucracy needed to make that agenda an on-the-ground reality. In particular, Born and Mabey highlight the need for an independent United Nations authority to lead on identifying climate risks (similar to how the International Atomic Energy Agency is the lead on nuclear arms control), including resource security concerns as well as managing sudden shocks (like the collapse of the West Antarctic ice shelf), and providing political leaderships with the data necessary to make informed policy decisions.

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