ECOSOC Discusses 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework in Addressing El Niño Impacts
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During a Special Meeting hosted by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), experts analyzed the effects of the 2015/2016 El Niño phenomenon, which has affected over 60 million people.

The event, 'Impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño Phenomenon: Reducing Risks and Capturing Opportunities,' was mandated by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to consider the socioeconomic and environmental dimensions of El Niño, as well as the resilience measures undertaken by countries to confront it.

ECOSOC6 May 2016: During a Special Meeting hosted by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), experts analyzed the effects of the 2015/2016 El Niño phenomenon, which has affected over 60 million people. The event, titled ‘Impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño Phenomenon: Reducing Risks and Capturing Opportunities,’ was mandated by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to consider the socioeconomic and environmental dimensions of El Niño, as well as the resilience measures undertaken by countries to confront it.

The meeting was organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in collaboration with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Addressing the meeting, ECOSOC President Oh Joon pointed out that the recurring El Niño effect impacts countries’ capacity to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that it represents a poignant example of the risk climate change poses to livelihoods. Also commenting on the relationship between climate change and El Niño, Robert Glasser, UNISDR Head, recognized the particular vulnerability of small island developing States (SIDS) and low-income countries and raised the need to transform data into actionable guidance for policy making.

Oh and Glasser, along with speakers from WMO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and DESA, underscored that the commitments and guidance laid out in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) 2015-2030, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, all adopted in 2015, provide a path toward effectively managing the risks posed by El Niño. Various countries presented on the specific impacts felt by their citizens and the type of measures they have taken to prepare for and mitigate these effects.

The outcomes of the meeting are recorded in a Presidential Statement summarizing the key messages that emerged. The Statement notes that many UN entities presented on their assistance to affected countries and suggests that the UN system strive for a “coherent, coordinated and integrated approach in support and assistance.” In the Statement, the ECOSOC President urges making the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework an immediate priority, noting the need to begin preparations now for future El Niño events. The Statement further calls for, inter alia: effective measures to prevent health consequences; systematic recording, sharing and evaluation of data related to disaster losses; sustainable funding; resilient and risk-sensitive investments; deployment of multi-hazard early warning mechanisms; and partnerships across the board to combat the problem.

This outcome will inform a section on addressing the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of the 2015/16 El Niño phenomenon in the UN Secretary-General’s report on DRR to the UNGA and a 2016 General Assembly plenary meeting that will focus on action-oriented recommendations with regard to these impacts. The ECOSOC Special Meeting was held on 6 May 2016, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. [Meeting Webpage] [UNISDR Press Release] [ECOSOC Special Meeting Concept Note] [ECOSOC Presidential Statement] [WMO Press Release] [ILO Remarks] [DESA Remarks]

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