The world of climate change United Nations agencies and programmes dealing with climate change

Outlining the larger problem we face might perhaps help us to focus on the problems in the area of energy and climate. What has been very clear since the Rio Earth Summit is that governments are not very good at joined-up thinking or acting, for that matter. Perhaps this is because climate change impacts upon so many different ministries.

The inability of governments to work in a joined-up manner is equally seen in the United Nations' activities. Perhaps not everyone realizes that all UN agencies and programmes have their own governing boards made up of representatives from those same government departments, and often reflecting the lack of joined-up thinking there.

Visiting the online gateway to the UN system's work on climate change can be mind blowing, particularly if you are not aware of how extensively the UN system is involved in trying to address climate change. Its web page (www. lists the following UN bodies involved with activities in the area of climate change: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); the IPCC; UNEP; the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD); the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the Global Environment Facility (GEF); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the World Bank; the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD); the International Maritime Organization; UN regional commissions; the International Monetary Fund (IMF); the World Tourism Organization; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the World Health Organization (WHO); the World Food Programme (WFP); the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); the Global Climate Observing System; the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA); the United Nations Industrial Development Organizations; the International Fund for Agricultural Development; the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; the International Telecommunication Union; and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.

Keeping abreast of developments within each body has been made easier by the excellent companion site produced by the International Institute for Sustainable Development:

As we move forward to Copenhagen and beyond, one of the key tests for the United Nations and the UN Secretary General will be trying to create joined-up thinking and activity within the UN system. This will be even more important at the country level, and the development of the UN One Country Programmes does offer a more coordinated way forward for the United Nations as a whole.

In the following sections of this chapter, we focus on the work of just a small number of the UN bodies involved in climate change: the UNFCCC, UNEP, UN-Habitat, UNDP and the FAO. These bodies, in particular, play a significant role, and understanding what they are doing can help to map out a more integrated approach. We will return to some suggestions for governments to consider in the final section.

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