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UN system in Europe and Central Asia issues summary recommendations on environmental sustainability to help Governments towards green recovery

The new regional interagency Issue-based Coalition on Environment and Climate Change has just issued summary recommendations for pandemic socioeconomic assessments and post-pandemic recovery strategies. The recommendations are intended to provide guidance to UN Country Teams in assessing the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and in beginning to work with Governments on a green recovery. The document was drafted by the co-leads of the Coalition – UNECE, UNEP and UNESCO – with contributions by UNDP, UN Women, OHCHR, UNOPS and FAO, among other UN agencies, funds and programmes.

The document addresses health and protecting people, social cohesion and community resilience, and the economic response and recovery, with recommendations on environmental sustainability and green economy, sustainable consumption and production, the clean energy transition, nature-based solutions and natural resources management. For details see the Coalition’s website and a repository for COVID-19-related resources on environment and climate change.

The Coalition will now be turning its attention to providing in the coming months more detailed guidance on practical measures to be taken in recovery strategies and plans. Governments across the UNECE region need to invest to create jobs in geographically-spread, labour-intensive green industries, to rebuild economies and support businesses with limited financial resources, while taking the opportunity, in some areas, of societal openness and climate-positive behavioural change to “build back better”. Better air quality, water and sanitation and waste management and biodiversity protection will each reduce vulnerability and increase resilience to natural and man-made hazards; as amply demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Governments need to take decisions based on evidence and science.

For instance, job-building measures with clear societal benefits might include increasing the energy efficiency of buildings – by retrofitting existing buildings, bulk purchasing or installation programmes, and insulation of buildings, for example – green public procurement, support to renewable energy projects that improve women’s access to energy, and reforestation of degraded areas. The measures will be described, their costs and benefits set out, examples given and links made to existing detailed guidance and other resources. UN Country Teams will then be able to turn to the 18-member strong Coalition for more targeted support.