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COVID-19, the environment and climate change

A collection of resources to help countries, assembled within the framework of the Issue-based Coalition on Environment and Climate Change, pending issue of the Coalition’s own guidance.

Many impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the environment have been observed or may be anticipated:       

  •       Environmental damage is driven by human activity. As the pandemic has limited our economic activities, consumption and movement, pollutant emissions and natural resource use have slowed, and the rate of environmental damage has fallen in most areas.
  •       But CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere continue to rise and there is an increased use of plastics, notably in packaging.
  •       Activities to conserve ecosystems and biodiversity have been restricted leading to an increase in illegal waste-dumping, hunting and logging, for example.
  •           As people lose their livelihoods, increased poverty will likely lead more people to turn to unsustainable harvesting of natural resources.
  •           The lockdown has led to the postponement of vital negotiations on global environmental governance in the expected climate change and biodiversity “super year”.
  •          Once the pandemic eases, pressure on the environment will resume and risks being less constrained, if recovery investment goes to dirty industries and less finance is available for green investment.

Therefore, governments across the region need to build back better their economies, create jobs and support businesses, while bearing in mind that better air quality, water and sanitation, waste management and biodiversity protection, as well as reduced greenhouse gas emissions, will each reduce vulnerability and increase resilience and sustainability.

Preliminary responses by the Coalition's co-leads to queries posed by Resident Coordinator Offices on the impact of COVID-19 on the environment (17 June 2020).

Summary recommendations by the Coalition on COVID-19 recovery (20 August 2020).

Compendium of measures to green the post-pandemic recovery (31 January 2021).


 Short-term, waste and chemicals management
Longer-term, build back better
Dedicated COVID-19 webpages of our members: