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Climate Change, UNEP and the G7 - Interview with the Advisor to the Italian G7 Presidency

Ahead of this week's G7 summit in Sicily, our editorial team spoke with Pier Carlo Sandei, UNEP’s Advisor to the Italian G7 Presidency, about the ongoing preparations and the role of environmental topics within the G7.

What is UNEP’s role in preparing the G7 2017?

UNEP is advising the Italian Presidency on all matters related to the environment. Italy took over the Presidency on 1 January, but preparations have been going on since last year, when the Italian government decided to have a G7 ministerial meeting on the environment. UNEP has been supporting the Italian environment ministry in organizing preparatory G7 working sessions. We are providing technical, administrative and logistical support to the ministry so it can better focus on substance. UNEP has been asked to prepare background papers and facilitate communication between different government departments – thereby ensuring coherent action.

What environmental topics are on the G7 agenda?

The G7 Ministers of Environment will meet on 11 and 12 June in Bologna. Various environmental topics are on the agenda and some of them will be discussed at the main G7 summit that takes place two weeks earlier. For instance, the Ministers of Environment will discuss climate and energy, resource efficiency and marine litter – topics that were also on the agenda at the G7 meetings last year in Japan and the year before in Germany.

However, the hallmark of the Italian Presidency will be its clear focus on the financing for our new global frameworks, the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. In this context, the G7 nations will discuss the role of multilateral development banks in implementing these deals and how they align their financing with these new and binding commitments. The main message is “green finance is worth it”. Investing in sustainable development and climate action is not going against development; it catalyses growth and employment.

What scope does the G7 have to address climate change?

With regards to climate change and the Paris Agreement, the discussion this year is mainly about finding a common position on what the Facilitative Dialogue should look like. The Facilitative Dialogue was created as a stock-taking exercise to promote exchange on ratcheting up the NDCs and accelerating ambition, and now that the Paris Agreement has entered into force earlier than expected, its purpose and design needs to be worked out in more detail. What should it look like in political and technical terms? I guess that UNEP and other international organisations can be of help in the process of shaping that dialogue.

Thank you, Mr Sandei.


Postscript: The administration of US President Donald Trump is currently reviewing the Paris Agreement and has announced it will decide whether or not to withdraw from the deal in late May – shortly before the G7 summit. In light of this, can the G7 manage not to roll back on its climate agenda and instead push for increased ambition?


Mr Pier Carlo Sandei works for the United Nations Environment Programme and is its Advisor to the Italian G7 Presidency. The interview was conducted by Stella Schaller.