01 Jun 2020 Story Ecosystems and Biodiversity

COVID-19 updates from UNEP

Photo by Unsplash/ @habibdadkhah

Featured here are selected updates showing examples of United Nations Environment Programme work supporting global efforts to protect biodiversity, to put an end to the illegal trade in wildlife, to safeguard the handling of chemicals and waste and to promote economic recovery plans that take nature and the climate emergency into account.

30 Jun 2020 15:52

Online dialogue: The impact of COVID-19 on Climate Science

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This session of the GENeva Environment Dialogues’ special COVID-19 series will address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on climate science.

When: 02 Jul 2020

Time: 09:00–10:20 CEST

Venue: Live | Webex Event & live on Facebook.

More info: The pandemic has affected the activities of scientific institutions and government agencies worldwide, leading to a reduced productivity in some programs and gaps in long-term climate data. It is now essential to focus on leveraging scientific support and knowledge-sharing for a sustainable recovery.

Lockdown and related measures implemented by countries to limit the spread of COVID-19 have led to a decrease in economic activities and a drop in road transport, temporarily cleaning skies and decreasing levels of certain air pollutants. However, carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere and oceans for centuries. The scientific community reminds us continuously that the world needs to be committed to continued efforts in climate change regardless of any temporary decrease in emissions due to the pandemic. Researchers have also found that air pollution might have intensified the pandemic.

29 Jun 2020 15:39

World Environment Situation Room COVID-19 section

Screenshot of the Covid-19 section

The World Environment Situation Room (WESR) has added a COVID-19 section to its monitoring platform.

WESR is global and uses Big Data including geo-referenced, remote-sensing and earth observation information integrated with statistics and data on the environmental dimension of sustainable development.

WESR targets country policy makers, top environmental policy makers, the environmental scientific community, business and interested citizens. The platform is essential as a knowledge instrument to support progress on delivering the environmental dimension of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

22 Jun 2020 11:22

UNEP's post-COVID19 policy briefs on Latin America and the Caribbean


UNEP's Regional Office in Latin America and the Caribbean has produced a series of policy briefs titled Articulating social and environmental policy for post-COVID-19 recovery, which include recommendations to build back better in the region, leaving no one behind.
The policy briefs address the following subjects:
·       Waste management as an essential service in Latin America and the Caribbean.
·       Environment in COVID-19 humanitarian response in Latin America and the Caribbean.
·       Opportunities to respond and build back better while leaving no one behind in Latin America and the Caribbean.
·       How to articulate integrated responses to the health, economic and climate crises in Latin America and the Caribbean.
More policy briefs on green economy, biodiversity and environmental law will soon be incorporated. You can find them at the regional website in English and Spanish.


Articulando la política social y ambiental para la recuperación pos-COVID-19 en América Latina y el Caribe

El Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente (PNUMA) está intensificando su trabajo en la identificación de las amenazas zoonóticas y la protección de la naturaleza con el fin de reducir el riesgo de pandemias como la de COVID-19.

La Oficina Regional del PNUMA en América Latina y el Caribe ha elaborado una serie de resúmenes de política titulada Articulando la política social y ambiental para la recuperación pos-COVID-19,  la cual ofrece recomendaciones para reconstruir de manera sostenible en la región tras la pandemia, sin dejar a nadie atrás.

Los resúmenes de política se enfocan las siguientes áreas:

·       La gestión de residuos como servicio esencial en América Latina y el Caribe.
·       Medio ambiente en la respuesta humanitaria a la COVID-19 en América Latina y el Caribe.
·       Oportunidades para responder y reconstruir sin dejar a nadie atrás en América Latina y el Caribe.
·       Cómo articular respuestas integradas a las crisis sanitaria, económica y climática en América Latina y el Caribe.


08 Jun 2020 10:49

The African Elephant Fund call for COVID 19 Project Proposals:


The African Elephant Fund (AEF) Secretariat just launched the tenth round of call for project proposals with a deadline of 06 July 2020, midnight East Africa Time. The purpose of this call is to allow African elephant range States to seek emergency funding to address elephant conservation challenges related to COVID 19 for the implementation of the African Elephant Action Plan.

The project proposal templates for use are available here.

For more info, you can reach us at [email protected] and [email protected] with a copy to [email protected] or call us +254 719744186 / +254 710602646.


COVID 19 Appel à soumission de projets:

Le Secrétariat du Fonds pour l'éléphant d'Afrique (FEA) vient de lancer le neuvième cycle d'appel à propositions de projets avec une date limite du 6 juillet 2020 à minuit, heure de l'Afrique de l'Est. Le but de cet appel est de permettre aux États de l'aire de répartition de l'éléphant d'Afrique d’accéder à un financement d'urgence pour relever les défis de la conservation des éléphants liés au COVID 19 et pour la mise en œuvre du plan d'action pour l'éléphant d'Afrique.

Les canevas de projets à utiliser sont disponibles ici.

Pour plus d'informations, vous pouvez nous joindre à l’adresse suivante [email protected] et [email protected] avec une copie à [email protected] ou nous appeler au +254 719744186 / +254 710602646.

05 Jun 2020 11:00

The Data Observatory tracks socio-economic and health impacts from COVID-19


As part of an ongoing effort to support Partnership for Action on Green Economy (PAGE) Partner Countries, The Data Observatory was developed to track socio-economic and health impacts from COVID-19, track policy responses and assess potential focus areas for green recovery in PAGE Countries. This collection of data aims ultimately to inform our partners and beyond as well as support decision-making that can lead to long-term, sustainable recovery in a post-COVID-19 world.

“The policy and investments decisions taken today will mitigate or amplify future risks to humanity and our economies. An inclusive and green economic recovery requires collective, coherent and decisive action through broader networks of partnerships such as the Partners for Inclusive Green Economy.” - Asad Naqvi, Head, UN PAGE Secretariat.

01 Jun 2020 13:27

Montréal Mayor calls on local government leaders to take action on nature



Valérie Plante, the Mayor of the City of Montréal and the ICLEI Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity, released a letter for cities to reflect on their relationship with nature ahead of the International Day of Biodiversity and World Environment Day (WED). Montréal is the North American WED host city.

The letter is a call to action for mayors and leaders of local and sub-national governments to make commitments to protect nature, especially in post-COVID-19 recovery plans. About 2,000 Mayors and local community leaders received it.

“As mayors and leaders of local and subnational governments, we have a unique opportunity and an important responsibility to protect our biodiversity and ecosystems in ways that will restore humanity’s relationship with nature, especially as we develop our post-COVID-19 recovery plans. Together, let’s take strong action to create healthy, vibrant cities, where people and nature can thrive.” ~ Mayor Valérie Plante of the City of Montréal & ICLEI’s Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity

The letter is available in English, French and Spanish. More info

27 May 2020 10:00

New Green Fins guidelines on how to deal with chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way

Green Fins

The Reef-World Foundation – the international coordinator of the UN Environment Programme's Green Fins initiative – has launched new guidelines to help dive and snorkel operators who are continuing to keep an environmental strategy high on their agenda despite the many changes taking place for travel businesses as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Reef-World has launched the Green Fins Guidelines for Environmental Best Practice for Chemical Cleaning Agents to help dive and snorkel operators deal with chemical cleaning agents in an environmentally friendly way. The Green Fins guidance – which should be used in addition to, not instead of, health and safety recommendations from DAN and the WHO on preventing viral spread – explains how on how to deal with any hazardous waste that may pose a significant threat to the marine environment.

The guidelines are available free of charge for Green Fins members and non-members alike. They can be downloaded here.

For more info and to access other Green Fins resources please go to: https://www.greenfins.net/

25 May 2020 12:00

Three more bicycle highways being built in in Beijing


Daily commuting in bicyle lanes in Beijing used to be a fairly risky undertaking with shared-bikes, scooters and pedestrians whizzing by during rush hours. To encourage green travel and to make it safer, Beijing municipal government built the first “bicycle highway” in the city in 2019. This 6.5km “bike only” highway runs to the north of city, with three lanes, including a reversible lane, on the 6-meter-wide road.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the municipal government in Beijing announced another three bicycle highways will be completed in 2020. These will be to the east, west and south of the city, adding over 25km of segregated bicycle-only routes. Related traffic regulations will be made to make sure the new bicycle highways adapt safely into the city’s traffic.

To further encourage de-carbonized transport, Beijing announced that until the end of May, 2020, people can ride shared-bikes for free for the first half hour during the rush hours.

You can read more about bicycle highways in Beijing here:

20 May 2020 11:00

To celebrate International Biological Diversity Day you are invited to the Solving Crisis webinar


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To celebrate International Biological Diversity Day you are invited to a webinar titled: Solving Crisis: Ecosystem-based Solutions to Biodiversity Loss and Links to COVID 19 Pandemic. This seeks to highlight how to build back better through natural solutions.

Apart from effects on human health, COVID-19 has hit at a time where nature-based solutions were on the rise. 2020 was meant to be a year to ramp up our decade of action on ecosystem and biodiversity efforts. While we wait to flatten the curve, we still have to steer through biodiversity and the environmental consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.


  • Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity
  • David Nabarro, WHO Special Envoy on COVID19
  • Sagar Aryal, CTO Plant-for-the-Planet App

When: 22 May 2020 at 11:30 AM in Eastern Time (USA and Canada) and 15:30 (in UTC) via Zoom - Register here

More info here

11 May 2020 18:00

1,000 UNEP handwashing stations in Haiti

The handwashing items are produced at low cost, using repurposed cooking oil buckets. Photo: UNEP.

UNEP has produced and is installing 1,000 handwashing stations in Haiti. This will help communities access and maintain good hand hygiene, key to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The portable handwashing items are made from repurposed cooking oil buckets fitted with plastic taps and plumbing tubes. They will be distributed to communities in Port Salut, Saint Jean du Sud and La Cahouane. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, ranking 163 out of 189 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index.

This UNEP initiative is supported by the Directorate of Civil Protection at the Ministry of Public Health and Population and the NGO Pêche Artisanale et Développement Intégré.


30 Apr 2020 18:20

The Basel Convention: COVID19 Factsheet on environmentally sound management of medical waste

Screenshot of the top of the factsheet

Download the Basel Convention’s guidance document on how to manage medical waste in the most sustainable manner here.

22 Apr 2020 13:00

Earth School is in session!


In April 2020 over 1.5 billion children were unable to go to school. Over fifty environmental and education experts, with the guidance and support of TED-Ed and UNEP, collaborated to launch #EarthSchool on 22 April.

EarthSchool shows off the wonder and mystery of our planet to children through a 30 day immersive environmental adventure.

What can we learn from termites about air conditioning? How can we partner with wolves to prevent soil erosion? This interactive adventure will leave you marveling at our planet and ready to take on the future.

Find out more


18 Apr 2020 11:20

Solar water heater for Panama City's Covid hospital

UNEP representatives and Panamanian authorities on April 18, 2020, attended the donation ceremony of a thermo-solar heater to a new COVID-19 hospital in Panama City. Photo: Presidency of Panama.

UNEP and the Energy Secretariat of Panama donated a thermo-solar heater to a hospital being built in Panama to treat COVID-19 patients.

Based on solar energy, the system will be able to generate up to 1,200 liters of hot water a day for the hygiene of the health center. The hospital is  being built in the Albrook area of Panama City and will have a capacity for 100 patients, and 24 health sector professionals. The facilities include five showers and sinks for the hygiene of health personnel and for the disinfection of ambulances and the morgue.

Being a 100% renewable technology, the heater will help avoid new carbon emissions and maintain air quality in this sector of the city. The heater is part of the Panama Solar Thermal Project by UNEP and the Secretariat of Energy of Panama. The project, funded by the GEF, aims to develop the Panamanian market for solar water heaters and to benefit, among others, the public health sector.

The 100% renewable solar heater system generates up to 1,200 liters of hot water per day. Photo: UNEP.

15 Apr 2020 10:00

The Last Defense a short video about a medical waste worker in Beijing

last defence

The Last Defense a short video about a medical waste worker in Beijing. This short video by Youthtalks Studio in China, shows Wang Ning, a medical waste worker, as he and his team work on the front lines disposing of COVID-19 medical waste. This video shows the challenges he and his colleagues face in carrying out their crucial and risky job. The original video can be seen online here.

In response to COVID-19, hospitals, healthcare facilities and individuals are producing more waste than usual, including masks, gloves, gowns and other protective equipment that could be infected with the virus. There is also a large increase in the amount of single use plastics being produced.
Wherever possible, countries should control COVID-19 waste through maximizing the use of available waste management solutions and, at the same time, look to avoid any potential long-term impacts on the environment.
UNEP is working in collaboration with Governments, WHO, UNDP, the GEF and NGOs to mitigate the adverse impacts on global environment from the increase of waste produced in response to the crisis, through controlling releases of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, land and water.

You can read more about UNEPs work here.

20 Mar 2020 12:00

BRS Secretariat urges sound management of medical and household waste as part of COVID-19 response

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Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions press release on the need to prioritise waste management during the COVID-19 outbreak

Geneva, 20 March 2020 - With the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continuing to spread and its impacts upon human health and the economy intensifying day-by-day, governments are urged to treat waste management, including of medical, household and other hazardous waste, as an urgent and essential public service in order to minimise possible secondary impacts upon health and the environment.

Read the full release here.