As NYC Junior Ambassadors, hundreds of students from across the five boroughs have the opportunity to act as representatives of their city, pledging to create a better city and a more sustainable planet. As part of the program students receive curated tours of the UN Headquarters, giving them a behind-the-scenes look at the UN and access to a growing alumni network of young, future leaders. They also receive classroom visits from an Ambassador to the UN or senior diplomat. Applications for Year 2 of the program are open through October 5! Educators from across the five boroughs and from any subject area can apply!
Nations Approve Landmark Climate Accord in Paris
The deal, which required unanimous approval by delegates from around the world, will for the first time commit nearly every country to lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
By Coral Davenport

The Paris Agreement was voted and accepted today at the COP21! It is great to see that every nation realizes the need for action against climate change. Climate change is no longer solely an environmental issue, and it has now also become a geopolitical and economical issue. 195 nations accepted the Agreement, including China and India, with the ultimate goal of reducing greenhouse gases emissions and to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

We are still definitely going to face the wrath of Mother Earth and climate change for the next few decades. Those Agreement are important however, in that we might finally see a huge shift away from fossil fuels. Secretary of State John Kerry said the deal “will help the world prepare for impacts of climate change that are either already here or are on the way, adding that it could prevent the worst environmental effects from coming to pass.”

There is no specific reduction percentage of GHG emission that each country has to commit to, and the Agreement assigns no concrete reduction targets to any country. Rather, and ahead of the agreement, 186 countries submitted plans detailing how they would reduce their greenhouse gas pollution through 2025 or 2030 based on the country’s domestic politics and economy. The Paris Agreement requires all countries to submit updated plans that would ratchet up the stringency of emissions by 2020, and every five years thereafter. The Paris Agreement will come into effect in 2020, as the Kyoto Protocol is set to end.

You can find the full text of the Paris Agreement here

Please check out the NYT: Key Points of the Paris Agreement

USA Today: Paris Agreement: 5 key takeaways about the historic climate deal

New York City has a long and  proud history as host city of the UN – from its temporary home in Flushing  Meadows Corona Park, to its permanent home on the east side of Manhattan.  Mayor de Blasio and his administration take pride in the deep and lasting  connections between our global city and one of the world’s premier  institutions.

This Oxfam media briefing released during the COP21 summit, and portrayed in the above cartoon by Dave Walker, highlights the strong environmental and social justice aspects of global climate change- asserting that the poorest 50% of the global population are responsible for only 10% of global emissions, yet overwhelmingly live in the countries of the world that are most vulnerable to its impacts.

Understanding and appreciating this spatial dimension of anthropogenic climate change is important- while its causes are disproportionately a result of activities that have benefited those in rich countries, its impacts are/will be suffered by those in poor regions of the world. Essentially a double injustice.

Also from Oxfam, the 80 richest people own the same wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest.

The Global Impact of E-Waste: Addressing the Challenge

This paper examines the volumes, sources and flows of e-waste, the risks it poses to e-waste workers and the environment, occupational safety and health issues, labour issues and regulatory frameworks, and links this growing global problem with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) current and future work.


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The Main Issues posed by E-Waste and that this paper tackles:
  • High volumes – High volumes are generated due to the rapid obsolescence of gadgets combined with the high demand for new technology.
  • Toxic design – E-waste is classified as hazardous 
  • waste having adverse health and environmental implications. 
  • Approximately 40  per cent of the heavy metals found in landfills comes from electronic waste.
  • Poor design and complexity – E-waste imposes many challenges on the recycling industry. Toxic materials are attached to non-toxic materials, which makes separation of materials for reclamation difficult. Hence, responsible recycling requires intensive labour and/or sophisticated and costly technologies that safely separate materials.
  • Labour issues – These include occupational exposures, informal sector domination causing health and environmental problems, lack of labour standards and rights.
  • Financial incentives – In general, there is not enough value in most e-waste to cover the costs of managing it in a responsible way. However, in line with EPR policies, new opportunities can be realized with the rise in the price of many of the materials in electronics, such as gold and copper.
  • Lack of regulation – Many nations either lack adequate regulations applying to this relatively new waste stream, or lack effective enforcement of new e-waste regulations.
Related UN Resources:

Wello Water Wheel


Wello is a social venture with an ambitious goal: To deliver clean water to a thirsty world.

We design and deliver affordable innovations that save time and increase opportunities for people who lack access to water. We design products that people not only need, but want to use.


Each feature of the WaterWheel has been vetted through a series of design validation pilots that took place across India over the course of 2 years. Our team lived and worked in dozens of villages, carried hundreds of liters of water and engaged with thousands of potential end-users and sector experts.

Download the product specifications here           


So, let us start with the basics. What is the 2030 Agenda? What exactly is it that is going on right now?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit is happening in New York right now, and it will be happening for the next three days. It’s a meeting between world leaders where the aim is to all agree on the formulation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 sustainable development goals and their 196 sub-targets. The meeting will take the whole weekend, but already the Agenda has been adopted, and we now have a world Agenda for the next 15 years. The Agenda will, to put it simply, dictate the approach of the UN in their work, both how they work internally and how they work with their member states and other partners. It will also have a huge impact on how countries tackle the different challenges that they are facing in everything from environmental sustainability, to education, poverty elevation and gender equality, just to mention a few.

Worth noting is that the negotiating part of the 2030 Agenda (where member states argues about if they should use this word instead of that, and other things that surprisingly will have much bigger implications than one might think) is more or less done. The draft of the goals has been negotiated and worked on since 2012 and he Rio+20 conference, and will most likely be adopted in their entirety at this stage.

The 2030 Agenda is “a plan for people, planet and prosperity that also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom”. It is at its core an integrated set of goals and targets that illustrates the interconnectedness of the “three pillars of sustainable development” (social, environmental and economic). All goals are in the formulation of their targets connected to multiple other goals, and together they create a web of targets and goals, where one cannot pull one strand without taking into consideration how it connects to other aspects of sustainable development. This creates a complicated set of goals, and the world is definitely facing a challenge in its work towards the realization of the 2030 Agenda. However, it is also our only chance to ensure that we protect not only our selves, but also the planet we live on, and that we ensure that the needs of the present is met while also ensuring that the possibility of future generations to meet their needs is safeguarded. Our actions these coming 15 years will be crucial for how life on our planet will look in the future, and there are many exciting, if challenging, things ahead of us.

[In March 2015] the pope will publish a rare encyclical on climate change and human ecology. Urging all Catholics to take action on moral and scientific grounds, the document will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops and 400,000 priests, who will distribute it to parishioners.
—  Encyclicals indicate high Papal priority for an issue at a given time. Pontiffs define when, and under which circumstances, encyclicals should be issued. Via The Guardian.

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist who founded the Green Belt Movement, which focused on planting trees and women’s rights; her organization paid a small stipend to women to plant seedlings throughout the country. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, with the committee citing her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Spiralling global temperatures by Ed Hawkins on Climate Lab Book.

How does this trend bode for staying within the Paris climate agreement of a 2 degrees Celsius limit on global warming? Are we taking sufficient action, and quickly enough, to do anything about this trend? What are the impacts of these rising temperatures- in the short and long term?

Related posts:

The Fort McMurray wildfire- impacts of climate change in the here and now?

Paris climate agreement: key points

Paris climate summit: 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees- what does it matter?

$2.2 trillion of wasted investment in fossil fuel projects in a 2 degree world


This title maybe misleading but the intention is pretty peaceful! Legend has it that after the World War II got over, American pilot Gale Halvorson airdropped candies in the name of hope, for the Berlin children. War equals devastation, so dropping candies instead of bombs was probably personal retribution. Inspired by this incident, designer Hwang Jin wook and pals have come up with a plan to combat deforestation and desertification of land in a similar fashion. Their mission is called “Seedbomb.”

Mission Seedbomb involves a bomber aircraft and charges full of the Seed Capsules. Essentially the project involves artificial dispersal of seeds over arid areas where natural vegetation has lapsed due to man-made follies like deforestation leading to desertification. Each capsule contains artificial soil and seeds, and are air-dropped over the selected regions.

Housed in biodegradable plastic, the artificial soil provides nourishment and moisture to the seed; till it grows out to be a strong enough plant to sustain itself. As the sapling matures, the plastic capsule melts away, leaving behind a brand new generation.

Sounds like Mission (im)Possible to me, however the logistics of desert environment and the kind of seeds to be dispersed will require a lot research and expertise from the botanists. Because once the capsule melts away and the artificial soil’s nourishment and moisture used up, it’ll take a lot of effort on the plant’s part to survive the harsh environment.

Designers: Hwang Jin wook, Jeon You ho, Han Kuk il & Kim Ji myung

F: Yankoodesign


How to produce more wealth with less resources? Some argue it’s through technology and newer regulations. The simple concepts in this video show how technology can (or at least should) be able to help cities become more sustainable. Stick with it. 

“Design Matters: Doing Better with Less” is a short but powerful animated story about using design to create sustainable wealth, and it provides essential insights into the future of business and innovation.