LBJ School of Public Affairs

Thinkers & Doers

LBJ SCHOOL SUMMER INTERNSHIPS

Au revoir Paris!

Well, my internship at UNEP is coming to an end. After three months in Paris, I am returning home to Texas in a few days to complete the final year of my masters program in Global Policy studies. I have worked on a variety of projects aimed at engaging the private sector to voluntarily adopt more sustainable envrionmental practices–practices that not only preserve the environment and its resources, but also often benefit the corporate bottom line and public image.

In my first blog I stated that the goal of my internship was to to gain a better understanding of the processes and mechanisms behind the coordination and development of environmental policy for governments and the international community. I can say I have definitely gained valuable insight into how a United Nations organization operates and
the process of interagency collaboration. I also have an enhanced appreciation of the role business and industry can, does, and will play in addressing some of our greatest global environmental challenges, including loss of biodiversity, sustainable production and consumption, and climate change. In light of the challenges and time-frames of negotiating major international environmental treaties, raising awareness, education and voluntary initiatives may prove the more productive path.

posted by christineackerson1 in 2010 and have No Comments

Business contributes to the MDGs

In 2000, world leaders adopted a declaration in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to help eradicate poverty and hunger, achieve universal education, reduce child mortality, promote gender equity, improve maternal health, combat diseases, and ensure environmental sustainability. While significant progress has been made toward these goals, much needs to be accomplished to meet the 2015 targets only five short years away.

We hear a lot about what governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations are doing to help reach these goals, but what about the private sector? Business and industry are key partners in the UN’s effort to help achieve the MDGs, and this September they will have the chance to discuss their accomplishments and contributions, as well as the remaining challenges and obstacles.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has invited CEOs to engage with world leaders and UN agency heads this September to review private sector contributions toward achieving the MDGs, and key challenges that remain. I have been helping organize UNEP’s participation, including engaging with CEOs who show a substantial commitment to environmental sustainability in their corporate programs.

A number of companies are taking measures to reduce their carbon footprint and promote environmental sustainability; for example, using power from renewable energy sources, reducing their use of hazardous chemicals in manufacturing and production processes, switching to electric or biofuel transportation fleets, implementing employee telecommuting programs, and promoting waste minimization, water conservation and recycling. Environmentally sustainable measures also contribute to many of the other MDGs—for example, reducing poverty and hunger through new green jobs, and improving health and combating diseases through access to clean water.

By promoting and investing in environmentally sustainable practices, businesses can preserve the environmental resources they depend upon and contribute to the MDGs, as well as benefit from increased cost savings, more efficient production processes, decreased risk, and improved stakeholder engagement and public image.

posted by christineackerson1 in 2010 and have No Comments

Helping achieve development through environmental sustainability

It has been one month already! I feel very fortunate to be working with so many dedicated and talented professionals who come from all over the world and are so passionate about preserving the earth’s resources for future generations. Since I arrived, I have been working on several different UNEP programs that engage the business and industry sectors to promote sustainable production and consumption. UNEP works closely with the private sector to encourage the sustainable use of natural resources. In addition, these strategies and practices work to promote economic growth, as well as support the UN’s Millennium Development Goals working to eradicate world poverty, hunger and disease. In particular, UNEP’s mission focuses on supporting and building capacity in Africa and other developing countries.

Last week I attended a workshop to increase collaboration for initiatives to incorporate sustainable production and consumption (SCP) into development goals. Representatives from developing country environmental ministries and development and donor agencies attended the two-day workshop. Challenges were discussed, including population growth, quality of life, lack of legal framework, water resources and buildings/infrastructure, but opportunities and initiatives were also highlighted, such as national green growth plans and implementation of voluntary environmental conservation activities.

I am beginning to appreciate how great a role SCP plays in addressing the root of many of our environmental challenges, from preserving biodiversity to tackling climate change; it’s a win-win strategy that also contributes to economic growth and the priority development goals of some of the world’s poorest countries.

posted by christineackerson1 in 2010 and have No Comments

Green Economy

Bonjour from Paris, France! I am working this summer for the United Nations Environment Programme’s Division of Technology, Industry and Economics. UNEP’s DTIE promotes key initiatives and partnerships with governments, business and industry, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations to encourage environmental sustainability and the efficient use of natural resources. A primary goal of sustainable consumption and production is to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, while promoting development in poor countries and supporting the attainment of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Specific focus areas and themes include Corporate Social Responsibility, Resource Efficiency and Cleaner Production, Sustainable Product Design, Education and Capacity Building, Life Cycle and Resource Management, Safer Production, Sustainable Consumption, Eco-labeling and Sustainable Procurement. These efforts support a larger UNEP program launched in 2008 to transition toward long-term economic and environmental sustainable development—The Green Economy Initiative. This initiative seeks to assist governments in designing and implementing economically efficient green policies while promoting green jobs and economic growth across a range of sectors, including clean technology, renewable energy, water, transportation, waste management, green building and land use.

UNEP provides leadership and critical resources for caring for the environment and preserving its resources for future generations in a sustainable way. It is my goal to gain a better understanding of the processes and mechanisms behind the coordination and development of environmental policy for governments and the international community. Building on my background in the geological and atmospheric sciences, my MGPS specialization coursework in international energy, environment and technology will help prepare me for a career in global environmental policy. Finding solutions to some of our greatest environmental challenges, without compromising economic growth and development goals, will depend on international cooperation toward low-carbon societies and a transition to sustainable consumption and production patterns with the help of programs like the UN’s Green Economy Initiative.

posted by christineackerson1 in 2010 and have Comment (1)