Some suggestions for the way forward

So what are the possible ways forward? The objective of this chapter is to give some idea of the complexity that exists in the world of multilateral climate change and energy within the UN system. The other chapters in this book clearly indicate the urgency that the world is facing as far as climate and energy is concerned. We believe that now is the right time to try and look at how the system might operate in the future. These suggestions are a contribution to that conversation.

At times, trying to quantify what is being undertaken in the name of climate change and energy within the UN system can seem overwhelming.

Perhaps the best place to start is a review of the mandates of UN agencies and programmes. This has been started through the Chief Executives Board and would benefit from a wider discussion, perhaps under the UN Economic and Social Council.

To help create a single UN operation, there should be a review of the mandates of each individual UN agency and programme in relation to climate change, against their present or future programmes of work. This could enable:

• the identification of overlaps with other UN bodies;

• the identification of gaps that need filling;

• the impact of the work being undertaken by the UN bodies to be assessed;

• additional funding needed to implement agreed objectives.

This could facilitate system-wide planning on climate change and energy to be undertaken. It would strengthen the role of the ECOSOC as a mechanism to deal with coordination between parts of the UN system.

In the area of the proliferation of different funds, a review of governance structures for the different funds could enable a learning process within the system as a whole. Many of these newer funds are trying different governance structures.

We are concerned that there needs to be a better link between the Bretton Woods institutions and UN ECOSOC, both in relation to guidance on system-wide activities on climate change, and in relation to the creation of a more coherent, transparent and accountable system for funding. Our suggestion would therefore be:

• a two-day high-level segment of ECOSOC dealing with system-wide coherence on climate change;

• an additional day of the Special High-Level Meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions dealing with climate change funds.

One of the very good suggestions put forward by the High-Level Panel on System-Wide Coherence in 2006 was the setting up of a sustainable development board within ECOSOC. Such a board could deal with the reporting of the delivery at the country level of climate change activities through the One Country Programme approach. Although the idea had some institutional problems (such as what role there would be for UN-Habitat and UNEP), these are soluble. As such, a board would have real use in feeding back to ECOSOC on what is working and what is not.

The present state of discussions on sustainable development within the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN General Assembly suggests that the present set-up isn't working. We believe there are a number of suggestions that should be considered that would enable a more coherent approach to sustainable development within the UN, and therefore in relation to climate change and other emerging and critical threats. These include:

• upgrading the UN Commission on Sustainable Development to a council of the UN General Assembly;

• creating a sustainable development security council;

• transforming the Trusteeship Council into an ecological security council.

The transformation of the CSD into a council of the General Assembly is following the lead of Human Rights, which did this in 2007. The idea of creating a sustainable development security council might go hand in hand with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's suggestion of creating an 'economic council' at the United Nations alongside the Security Council, and a UN charter on sustainable economics. If the chancellor's suggestion does go ahead, such a council could also become the overarching body for coordinating climate funds.

A new Earth Summit in 2012, as proposed by G77 and China, should tackle the issue of sustainable development governance. At the same time, it could deal with the issue of international environmental governance, which has ground to a halt after a number of years of work. The clustering of environmental conventions can be of great help in dealing with interlinkages.

If the Commission on Sustainable Development is going to continue, as opposed to becoming the preparatory process for a summit in 2012, then its multi-year programme could be revisited. It might want to address climate and energy issues as cross-cutting with the topics that the CSD is discussing.

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