Written by Julia Theilen, graduate student of International Communication at St. John’s University.
On October 19th, 2017, the UN Environment Management Group (EMG) held the third event of its Nexus Dialogues Series, this time taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. The IICM supported UN EMG in communication activities around the event.
This third Dialogue evolved around the environmental and humanitarian nexus, exploring solutions to the following questions:
- How can we strengthen partnerships between the environmental and the humanitarian sector to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals in an effective and integrated way?
- How can environment and humanitarian institutions work together to reduce the environmental drivers of conflict and reduce disaster impacts?
- How can we make humanitarian relief more sustainable by integrating the environment?
IICM director moderating UN EMG e-discussion and presenting summary at nexus dialogue
The director of the Institute for International Communication (IICM), Dr. Basilio Monteiro, moderated an online discussion preceding the high-level dialogue held on October 19th. A number of people from all over the world participated in the global conversation online to contribute their ideas and share examples that would be considered for the final event in Geneva. Inputs were used to bring new ideas, questions and experiences to the dialogue on October 19th, and to grow the analysis. Dr. Monteiro then presented a summary of the discussion to the participants of the dialogue in Geneva, emphasizing the importance of communication in discussing the nexus approach to environmental and humanitarian issues.
ICM Graduate Students supporting UN EMG Nexus Dialogue with live broadcasting and social media communication
Two graduate students of the M.S. International Communication program at St. John’s University, Alexis Dursunyan and me, supported UN EMG in promoting the event and the online discussion to a broader audience on social media to include the public in UN EMG conversations and communicate the relevance of the Nexus series and its outcomes to the outside world. To achieve this, the IICM live broadcasted the entire event – from the technical segments in the morning to the high-level segment in the afternoon – so that people from different time zones who were not able to physically attend the event could simply follow the dialogue online.
Learnings from attending the Nexus Dialogue
One of the main take-aways for me personally that were discussed during the nexus dialogue was: On the long term, we need to develop low impact humanitarian and development systems that support the environment. Humanitarian action itself can cause environmental impact and we need to think about these environmental consequences of humanitarian programs. For example, what do we do about water management?
Working towards longer term engagement not only means to integrate environmental into humanitarian work, but also humanitarian into environmental work. In this, funding remains a fundamental problem yet to be dealt with.
Finally, “we will be successful if we find ways to engage with the local actors, the ones that have most knowledge on the ground”, as Elliot Harris, Assistant Secretary General of UN Environment, pointed out in his closing remarks of the event.