Interdisciplinary Program Office (IPO) Sustainability Seminar Series Fall 2021 - The Untold Story of the World’s Leading Environmental Institution: UNEP at Fifty
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was founded in 1972 as a nimble, fast, and flexible entity at the core of the UN system—a subsidiary body rather than a specialized agency. It was intended to be the world's environmental conscience, an anchor institution that established norms and researched policy, leaving it to other organizations to carry out its recommendations. In this talk, Maria Ivanova will offer an abridged account of UNEP's origin and history and a vision for its future. Drawing on extensive interviews she conducted with UNEP's past and present Executive Directors, staff, and two former UN Secretaries-General, Ivanova will provide some rare insight into the organization's functioning. UNEP’s fiftieth anniversary, Ivanova argues, presents an opportunity for reinvention. She envisions a future UNEP that is the go-to institution for information on the state of the planet, a normative vision of global environmental governance, and support for domestic environmental agendas.
Maria Ivanova is an international relations and environmental policy scholar. Maria is Associate Professor of Global Governance, Director of the Global Governance and Human Security PhD Program, and Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her work focuses on the performance of international institutions, implementation of international environmental agreements, and sustainability. Her current work examines national performance on global environmental conventions, and she engages with countries in East Africa to inform policy. From 2014 to 2016, Ivanova served on the Scientific Advisory Board of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. She is also an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and the Chair of the Board of the UN University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS). She serves on the External Advisory Board of the Environmental Solutions Initiative at MIT, on the Sustainability Advisory Council at Yale University, on the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative (C2G2) Advisory Group, and on the Board of the Millennium Institute.