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Opinions



List of Expert Opinions - All

2014
What is the future of forests in 300 years?  (18 june 2014)

Forests will play a crucial role globally in the next 300 years and beyond. Knowledge of sustainable forest management will be in high demand as forests are one of the main renewable natural resources available to humanity. Forests will be expected to help mitigate climate change, protect soil and...
Can gender mainstreaming improve the environment we live in?  (4 april 2014)

Yes, gender mainstreaming can improve the environment we live in since sustainable development cannot take place without the involvement of women as contributors and beneficiaries to this process.  Women often bear the brunt of environmental degradation, but they are also agents of change....
Is wood the material of the future?  (4 march 2014)

Wood should be considered the building material of the future for four reasons.   First, wood is a sustainable building material, as it is derived from a renewable source and has low embodied energy when compared with most other structural materials. The energy consumed in managing forests,...
2013
Can UNECE Initiatives on Air Pollution Pave the Way for Regional and Global Action?  (4 december 2013)

The 1979 UNECE Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP) is the first legally binding instrument in the world on air pollution. The science-based approach of the Convention and its subsequent eight associated protocols are an example for other regions of the world where similar...
Delivering on the mission of UNECE through energy  (19 november 2013)

UNECE was established after World War II with a mission that can be summarized in two words:  Never again. An essential tool for fulfilling this has been, and still is, to foster economic interdependence and growth, and to make every effort to secure affordable and sustainable energy....
How “real” is your real estate agent?  (7 november 2013)

A proper real estate sector needs integrated national legal systems, services in accord with international professional standards and a code of ethics. It should also have clearly defined professional training and certification requirements that are based on high-level standards. In 2002, Russia...
Mapping the flow: from “uranium in the ground” to “uranium in the can”  (25 october 2013)

Nuclear is a capital-intensive energy option.  Nearly all the investment is upfront—during the construction of the reactors.  Although some cost will also be incurred during final closure and decommissioning, the operational and fuel costs remain comparatively low. However, the supply...
The future of paper  (10 september 2013)

When considering the future of paper, the most commonly heard opinion is usually pessimistic, as it tends to just regard paper as the medium to convey printed information, like in books, magazines and newspapers. It is true that this segment – let’s call it “graphic paper” – is in...
Can oil- and gas-rich countries benefit from renewable energy?  (24 july 2013)

The majority of United Nations Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (UNSPECA) countries were able to achieve economic growth mainly thanks to the development of their oil and gas reserves. But it is a well-known fact that the fossil fuel reserves are exhaustible and, in order to...
Social enterprise - a social innovation  (27 june 2013)

Social innovation is a relatively new concept in knowledge-based development, and blurs traditional boundaries between institutional sectors, public and private, types of innovations, and their creators and users. Taking a more comprehensive view of innovation processes, outcomes and actors...
Why “unified” reporting of the world’s energy and mineral resources is important  (3 june 2013)

The world is consuming more and more energy and mineral resources every year, particularly those regions with rapidly growing economies. Meeting our increasing needs for energy fuels and minerals ideally should be accompanied by considerations for sustainable development. The data on available...
Reducing the effects of disasters through proper maintenance and sound structural design  (20 may 2013)

In the past three decades, many major disasters have occurred throughout the world. Between 1980 and 2010, for instance, more than 26,000 people were killed.  The high risk associated with natural hazards is not only due to natural characteristics of the countries (i.e. level of seismicity,...
Why Russia’s extensive boreal forests can contribute to a greener world  (8 may 2013)

Did you know that Russia has 80% of Europe’s forests? The EU refers to the Russian forests as the “green lungs of Europe”. And Brussels keeps an eye on how we’re protecting them. It also periodically puts forward new demands for ecological safeguards for managing them and for preserving...
On communicating complex information  (9 april 2013)

The world we live in is complex. People with specialized knowledge, such as scientists, engineers and economists, put a lot of effort into analysing it, but this can be wasted on society if the results aren’t communicated effectively and if those using it don’t understand it.   One...
Should we all stop eating meat?  (27 march 2013)

Livestock-farming practices are increasingly coming under scrutiny from all angles—central among these being the impact of livestock on the environment. Two recent reports* highlight the massive nitrogen threats of livestock farming to the environment, including air, soil and water pollution,...
What the Horsemeat scandal teaches us  (13 march 2013)

Although the current horsemeat scandal has been depicted as an instance of fraud and mislabelling generated by one source, a closer look reveals instead a broader, generalized misleading practice that could escape our “strict” food regulatory regime. Both the food-safety authorities and the...
Are floods exportable?  (27 february 2013)

Everyone knows what climate change is, but not everyone realizes that its main and increasing challenges are very much about water management for rivers, lakes and groundwaters. As most water bodies are shared by several countries, States will need to increasingly work together. For 21 years now,...
Our Sustainable Development Imperative: Provide modern and efficient energy services  (13 february 2013)

As we observe the desperate plight of the 1.4 billion people who lack access to energy, it is clear that we can only secure economic growth and prosperity if people can access modern energy services. The critical energy challenges confronting global policymakers today include providing energy to...
Sustainable development: “wellbeing in the ‘here and now’, ‘later’ and ‘elsewhere’  (6 february 2013)

Considering the influence of the concept of sustainable development in our society today, it’s hard to imagine that the concept is just 25 years old. The term was coined by the seminal “Brundtland” report in 1987, and it has clearly struck a chord in society.  Many other terms and...
From Standard to Steak – Why meat standards matter  (16 january 2013)

Agricultural quality standards define in what condition agricultural produce should be when it’s sold and shipped across borders. Used by governments, producers, traders, importers and exporters, they cover a wide spectrum from fruit and vegetables to eggs and meat. Meat is a high-value...
Does UNECE contribute to humanitarian work?  (2 january 2013)

Though the work of UNECE is largely technical, its tools and methods can also make a difference in the humanitarian world, in ways we might not expect. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was able to use UNECE tools and methods to assess how refugee camps are adapting to...
2012
The many benefits of real-estate information systems  (18 december 2012)

If you’re running a business and want to expand it, a delay in the purchase of additional land may mean that your competitor grabs the opportunity. If your bank can access reliable information about your property and trust in its value, you’ll get lower interest rates on your mortgage. An...
In tight economic times, international dialogue on regulations is imperative  (12 december 2012)

Because of different and often conflicting regulations, exporting a product or a large piece of equipment to more than one country can be like navigating a maze.  And the costs of complying with these regulations are further inflated by the various tests and certificates.   The United...
Comparable energy reserves and resources – why we should care  (5 december 2012)

Because the energy industry is global, it needs global standards. These should be clear and they should be consistently communicated. If you harmonize the terminology of energy reserves and resources, you get a more reliable and consistent estimate of global quantities of fossil energy. This also...
Some advice for countries that are lagging behind in technological development  (28 november 2012)

Several of Europe’s economies stand at the frontier of technological development; that is, they’re able to produce technological breakthroughs of global significance. Although some other economies are lagging behind, it’s well documented that those economies which adopt a “catch-up”...
Why retrofitting older buildings needs to be a priority.  (22 november 2012)

Energy efficiency is the greatest energy resource because it’s cheaper and quicker to invest in than alternative capacities for energy supply. The UNECE region, as a result of its cool climate, uses over 50 per cent of its energy in residences for space heating. A priority for energy-efficiency...
What trust is in these times?  (14 november 2012)

The digital economy has created remarkable examples of information—both good and bad—being published and disseminated rapidly, enabling new social and economic activities.  But we don’t have so many examples of balanced business benefits in the area of international trade. One of the...
Is Wood Energy A Green Option?  (7 november 2012)

Generating wood energy involves burning pellets, firewood and other types of wood or wood  derivatives. In the northern hemisphere, which includes most of UNECE’s member countries, wood is already the main source of renewable energy. While wood energy does emit carbon like other carbon-based...
Why innovate?  (31 october 2012)

Innovation, such as the Internet, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and even the cell phone are changing how people live and work at all income levels. These innovations have underpinned economic progress in recent years and, in spite of current turbulence, the accelerating pace of innovation...
Should diesel cars be banned from cities?  (23 october 2012)

Diesel cars have been regarded as the “green” option when choosing a car, chiefly because they’re supposed to offer better fuel consumption and lower carbon dioxide emissions. Recently, however, their image has begun to change as data become available about their emissions of harmful air...
Can we expect the unexpected?  (15 october 2012)

Atypical scenarios or “black swan events” have been suggested as causes for major disasters where our hazard identification and risk assessment methods seemed to have deserted us. These sometimes show up as hazardous scenarios that we failed to predict, or as events that occur when all the...

 


© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013