Climate Change picture
credit (UNEP, 2010)

The United Nations System Delivering as One on Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Climate change is the defining issue of our time. It is the ultimate test for the global community to unite and meet a challenge that respects no borders. It exacerbates nearly every other development challenge. At the same time, taking climate action will help solve many other social, environmental and economic problems as well. In fact, by acting on climate change we can significantly advance the sustainable development agenda.

More than any other institution or organization in the world, the United Nations has been at the forefront of efforts to address climate change. The UN has been a leader in assessing the state of the science through the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It has brought countries together through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and has facilitated the agreement of a universal and meaningful climate agreement: At the conclusion of the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), held from 30 November – 11 December 2015 in Paris, Member States adopted the Paris Agreement, a historic commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change globally.

In a joint statement, issued prior to COP21, the UN System Chief Executives had pledged to provide strong and coherent support to Member States in addressing climate change as an integral part of the implementation of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. To this end, the UN system is strengthening its coordinated approach to supporting climate action in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As a first step, in April 2016, the UN System Chief Executives Board agreed on "Common Core Principles for a UN System-wide Approach to Climate Action".

Common Core Principles for a UN System-wide Approach to Climate Action

The principles, adopted at the spring 2016 session of the UN System Chief Executives Board, draw on successful examples of previous and current UN system-wide approaches to climate change, as well as identified gaps and opportunities for system-wide action for more effective support to Member States. The principles have been designed to guide a system-wide approach and inform and strengthen the system’s collective support to climate change action under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UNFCCC process, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the global, regional and national and sub-national level.

Statement of the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination on Climate Change

Climate change represents one of humanity’s greatest challenges to the peaceful, prosperous and sustainable development of society. Each year, there is increasing evidence of its adverse impacts, particularly on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations and countries. Climate change affects women and men differently requiring genderresponsive climate action. No country is immune from the harmful effects of a changing climate, and no country acting alone can arrest it.

The UN system at the UNFCCC COPs

During the annual Conferences of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COPs), the UN system highlights actions in support of countries’ efforts to understand and manage the opportunities and challenges related to climate action, and maximize the development co-benefits that stem from low carbon and climate resilient growth. From 2007 until 2015, the UN system’s joint engagement in the COPs was coordinated by the HLCP Working Group on Climate Change. With the conclusion of its mandate in April 2016, the UNFCCC Secretariat has taken over this coordination role.

The HLCP Working Group on Climate Change

The Working Group on Climate Change was established by HLCP in 2007 with the aim of of facilitating a coherent approach and joint action of the United Nations system on climate change. Until the conclusion of its mandate in 2016, the Working Group served as a platform to share climate-related information and knowledge among its members; initiate joint implementation of climate action; inform CEB members on climate change issues; coordinate the UN system’s engagement in the UNFCCC COPs and other relevant fora; and prepare joint outreach and communication tools.