The Nature Conservancy Earth Day Celebration

Co-hosted by CEO Jennifer Morris and Chief Scientist Katharine Hayhoe, The Nature Conservancy’s Earth Day event celebrates today’s environmental heroes, features a musical performance by Aloe Blacc and includes appearances from Danni Washington, Justin Long, Bill Nye, Martha Stewart and more.

Expo 2020’s Sustainability Pavilion Inspires Visitors

Terra – the Sustainability Pavilion is already inspiring action towards a cleaner, safer, healthier world, with 96 per cent of people who have visited the Expo 2020 Pavilions Premiere so far saying the experience has motivated them to change their behavior.

Since launching at the end of January, the Pavilions Premiere has offered more than 50,000 visitors an exciting glimpse at the Sustainability Pavilion’s world-class architecture, its inspiring exhibits and the stunning surrounding areas ahead of Expo’s official opening on October 1, 2020.

The 4.38 square kilometer Expo site is located in Dubai South, within easy reach of Dubai International Airport, Abu Dhabi International Airport, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi cruise terminals, in the UAE.

Learn more on the Expo 2020 website.

New Strategic Plan for UN Global Compact

The United Nations has announced a new three-year strategic plan to increase and accelerate corporate sustainability and principled business.

“The United Nations Global Compact is uniquely positioned to support companies on their journey to align their practices to a sustainable and inclusive future. The 10 Principles on human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption offer a blueprint for businesses seeking to be part of the collective effort to build back stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“Now is the time to scale up the global business community’s contributions to the 2030 Agenda and the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” said Guteres. “That is the overarching goal of the Global Compact’s strategic plan for 2021 through 2023.”

With the pandemic and ongoing climate crisis undoing much of the progress the world has achieved since adopting the SDGs in 2015, the new UN Global Compact strategy calls on the global business community to increase its contribution to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement. The strategy outlines five key shifts to boost business action and impact:

  •  Accountable companies: UN Global Compact will strive to move its participant companies faster and farther than others in demonstrating progress on corporate sustainability and responsible business practices through specific, measurable targets within an enhanced reporting framework.
  •  Balanced growth of local and regional networks: Local UN Global Compact networks will be empowered to effect change and build more dynamic national ecosystems for business sustainability. This effort should lead to the launch of new national and regional Global Compact networks with a focus on the Global South, China and the U.S.
  •  Measurable impact in prioritized areas: UN Global Compact programs, co-created with local networks and delivered through them, focus on the 10 Principles to lead and shape action on five Sustainable Development Goals: Gender Equality (SDG 5), Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Climate Action (SDG 13), Peace Justice and Strong Institutions (SDG 16) and Partnerships (SDG 17) while adapting to each country’s unique context.
  •  Harnessing the collective action of SMEs: Accounting for most of the world’s businesses and employers, UN Global Compact will establish targeted and cross-cutting SME programs that leverage digital tools and value chains to reach scale.
  •  Strong and active engagement with the UN and its partners: UN Global Compact will enhance collaboration at the global and national levels with UN agencies and UN country teams to accelerate its reach and its ability to advance responsible business practice globally.

“Together, we will be One Global Compact uniting business for a better world,” said Sanda Ojiambo, executive director of the UN Global Compact.

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Tiny Chameleon Is Smallest Reptile

Scientists believe they’ve found what could be the smallest reptile on Earth. Check out the sunflower seed-sized chameleon.

Scientists believe they may have discovered the smallest reptile on earth – a chameleon subspecies that is the size of a seed.

The BBC reports that the two of the tiny lizards were discovered by a German-Madagascan expedition team in Madagascar.

The male Brookesia nana, or nano-chameleon, has a body of just 13.5mm.

This makes it the smallest of about 11,500 known species of reptiles, according to the Bavarian State collection of Zoology in Munich.

Its length from top to tail is 22mm (0.86in).

The female is far bigger at around 29mm, the institute said, adding that other specimens were yet to be located, despite “great effort”.

“The new chameleon is only known from a degraded montane rainforest in northern Madagascar and might be threatened by extinction,” said the Scientific Reports journal.

Oliver Hawlitschek, a scientist at the Center of Natural History in Hamburg, said: “The nano-chameleon’s habitat has unfortunately been subject to deforestation, but the area was placed under protection recently, so the species will survive.”

Still of nano-chameleon

World Bank Releases 2020 Atlas of SDGS

The World Bank has published its Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2020, which features information and data visualizations covering the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The atlas highlights trends and scores for selected targets within each SDG. Where data is available, it also highlights the emerging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SDGs.

The atlas uses data from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators database, as well as from a wide variety of other source worldwide.

The SDGs seek to guide global action to address many of the world’s greatest challenges, such as eradicating poverty, eliminating hunger, expanding access to education, achieving gender equality, and addressing the climate crisis. As a World Bank blog post notes, the atlas includes analysis of key SDG indicators and trends, which is important for measuring progress and directing action.  

The 2020 atlas also features a storytelling narrative that interweaves concepts about how the SDGs are measured. Where data is available, the atlas also highlights some of the emerging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the indicators and trends presented.

New UN Report Underscores Climate Change Threat

Climate change continues to threaten the planet. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are at record levels and continue to increase. Emissions are heading in the direction of pre-pandemic levels following a temporary decline caused by the lockdown and economic slowdown. The world is set to see its warmest five years on record – in a trend which is likely to continue – and is not on track to meet agreed targets to keep global temperature increase well below 2 °C or at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

A newly release report from leading science organizations, United in Science 2020, highlights the increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change, which affects glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions and is often felt through water-related hazards like drought or flooding. It also documents how COVID-19 has impeded our ability to monitor these changes through the global observing system.

“This has been an unprecedented year for people and planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives worldwide. At the same time, the heating of our planet and climate disruption has continued apace,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a foreword to the report.

“Never before has it been so clear that we need long-term, inclusive, clean transitions to tackle the climate crisis and achieve sustainable development. We must turn the recovery from the pandemic into a real opportunity to build a better future,” adds Guterres. “We need science, solidarity and solutions.”

The United in Science 2020 report, the second in a series, is coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), with input from the Global Carbon Project, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the UN Environment Programme and the UK Met Office. It presents the very latest scientific data and findings related to climate change to inform global policy and action.

“Greenhouse gas concentrations – which are already at their highest levels in 3 million years – have continued to rise. Meanwhile, large swathes of Siberia have seen a prolonged and remarkable heatwave during the first half of 2020, which would have been very unlikely without anthropogenic climate change,” says Prof. Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the WMO. “And now 2016–2020 is set to be the warmest five-year period on record. This report shows that whilst many aspects of our lives have been disrupted in 2020, climate change has continued unabated.”

Key findings from the report are available online.

Global Business Community Meets for Annual SDG Business Forum

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the UN Global Compact and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs convened more than 12,000 sustainability leaders recently for the 5th annual SDG Business Forum. More than 40 chief executive officers at the forum highlighted the imperative to address three critical fragilities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic – climate change and nature loss; economic exclusion; and social inequality.

Held under the theme of “Redefining Business Leadership in a COVID-19 World,” the Forum’s program focused on actions needed to tackle the pandemic and align a future economic recovery with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

In opening the flagship event, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, emphasized the imperative for global solidarity in the face of the coronavirus crisis – with the UN’s Deputy-Secretary General, Amina Mohammed, later making an impassioned call to action for the business community to leave no one behind in the face of the pandemic.

The forum highlighted a growing recognition of the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships both in the response to and recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Several government ministers – including from the United Arab Emirates, France, Egypt and Estonia – expressed their support for scaling existing private sector partnerships and collaboration. While the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, H.E. Gaston Browne, appealed for the global private sector to increase its engagement in Small Island Developing States to assist their recovery from an unprecedented economic shock. 

Reflecting this sentiment, attendees called for the development of public-private partnerships policies – far outranking financial incentives and awareness raising – as the primary way for governments to accelerate corporate SDG alignment. In this context, the forum saw the launch of a major new initiative bringing together public and private sector partners to help local communities recover better from the pandemic. 

The COVID-19 Private Sector Global Facility – developed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UN Global Compact and ICC – will work to mobilize a minimum of US$5 billion in support for local business communities to enable a resilient rebuild from the pandemic. The Facility will leverage public financing and significant in-kind contributions from multinational businesses to deliver projects – from skills training to infrastructure development – that directly meet the needs of SMEs and the communities in which they operate. 

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is that our collective health and prosperity depend upon working together to protect people and the planet,” said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. “And leaving no one behind.”

DHL, Microsoft and PwC have been confirmed as initial strategic partners of the facility – with UNDP Administrator using his speech at the Forum to call on other international institutions and companies to join this effort with the objective to “recover better together.” 

The social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are sobering, added. Liu Zhenmin, the UN’s undersecretary general of economic and social affairs. “Not only has the pandemic demonstrated how the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development are intrinsically linked, but it has also revealed the dire consequences that profound inequalities and injustices have on our societies,” he said. “It is at times like these that we need extraordinary leadership, from governments, from civil society, and from the purpose-driven business leaders who are not afraid to step up to drive the much-needed transitions.”  

The forum also highlighted the recently launched SME Climate Hub, an ICC-led initiative which aims to provide micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises with the practical tools and incentives needed to allow them to reap the benefits of taking action aligned with the Paris Agreement and the latest climate science. The Hub is already supported by several supply chain leaders and SME CEOs – including Jesper Brodin, CEO of IKEA, and Maria Fernanda Garza, vice chair of ICC – both of whom spoke on panel sessions throughout the day.

On ambitions for public sector support of the initiative. “It is imperative that governments create regulatory environments which reward and enable long-term investments in resilience and sustainability,” said John Denton, ICC secretary General. In particular, by ensuring the financial system rewards and preferences companies taking action to enhance their environmental and social performance. ”

In a closing keynote address, Ajay Banga – CEO of Mastercard and Chair of ICC – acknowledged the transformational commitments made by businesses to align their operations with the SDGs, but called for action from all stakeholders to enable them, noting, “Delivering on these commitments is up to all of us… not just to hold businesses to account, but to do our part to build lasting pathways for achieving those aims. The UN’s Decade of Action will be shaped by the quality of the partnerships we develop and by the systems we create to enable a recovery that places resilience at its core.”

UNDP Launches New Initiative To Address Issues Related to Global Pandemic

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Global Compact (UN Global Compact) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) have announced the establishment of the COVID-19 Private Sector Global Facility, a global initiative and collaboration bringing together public and private sector partners to help local communitiesrecover better from the pandemic. Deutsche Post DHL Group, Microsoft Corp. and the PwC network (“PwC”) have already joined the COVID-19 Private Sector Global Facility, and the initiative is open for other like-minded private sector organizations that want to contribute. 

The Global Facility is a response to corporate calls to action for private sector leaders and governments to work together to address the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative has been established to better coordinate their responses, helping to ensure that immediate stimulus efforts flow into the real economy.

The Global Facility will operate at both the global and national levels. It aims to co-create solutions that are tailored to the phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in a given area and the specificities of the local private sector and government context. Guided by the UN Global Compact’s 10 Principles and the Sustainable Development Goals, facility will support a multisectoral, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to face the multidimensional nature of the crisis. Recovery efforts will focus on how to rebuild more inclusive economies and societies, to set a new course for a socially just, low-carbon and climate-resilient world where no one is left behind. Initial projects will focus on the countries of Colombia, Ghana, the Philippines and Turkey. Both the geographical scope and participating partners will expand as the Global Facility develops.

“Solidarity to ‘Recover Better Together’ can boost our collective efforts not only to cope with the crisis but overcome it. UNDP’s footprint across some 170 countries and territories, combined with the UN Global Compact’s network of more than 10,000 companies and 68 Local Networks around the world, and the International Chamber of Commerce’s network of over 45 million companies, multiplies our collective capacity and potential. The Facility is the first of its kind – designed to join forces across public and private sectors to serve humanity in an imperative moment,” said Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. 

The COVID-19 Private Sector Global Facility was announced at the SDG Business Forum during the UN General Assembly, the largest and most inclusive UN convening of private sector leaders. Launched under the motto “Recover Better Together”, the timing of this initiative has special importance, marking the commemoration of some important UN-related milestones: the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations; the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Global Compact; and the Centenary of ICC’s founding after WWI at a time when multilateralism is facing the greatest challenge of its generation.

Organizations that want to play a leading role in the global pandemic recovery and join this call to action are encouraged to contact the UNDP project coordinator at for a discussion on how they can get involved.