The WFEO-UN Relations Committee (WURC) was created in September 2011 with the mission of acting as the WFEO interface with different UN agencies as well as intergovernmental organizations requiring engineering content, systems, methodologies and analyses.
Until the creation of this Committee, the interface with the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was carried out by the Energy Committee. It involved in particular the participation of WFEO at the UNCSD CSD-14 to CSD-19 meetings.
WURC’s main objective is to put the Engineering contribution at the forefront of the Major Group’s international efforts towards fulfilling feasible programs and measures with a focus on sustainable development, climate change, environmental issues, and disaster risk reduction. The Committee concentrates its activities on actions developed within ECOSOC, UNCSD, UNEP, UNISDR, UNFCCC, UNDP, UNESCO, WMO, OECD, UNISDR and the World Bank. WURC activities include those related to the Rio+20 Conference and Post Rio+20.
The Chair of this Committee acts as WFEO liaison with UNCSD and ECOSOC, and leads the WFEO representation at the Scientific and Technological Communities Major Group that takes part in these UN bodies.
As indicated, WURC represents the global engineering community at the UN through the Scientific and Technological Community Major Group (S&TMG). This Major Group includes WFEO, the International Council for Science (ICSU) and International Social Science Council (ISSC).
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) site sets out the establishment and purpose of the Major Groups as follows:
Since its inception, UNEP had a special relationship with civil society in tackling environmental issues. The Stockholm Conference on Human Environment, which led to the creation of UNEP in 1972, owed much to the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of civil society. Many multilateral environmental agreements – Basel Convention, Montreal Protocol, Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions, among others – were developed thanks to the lobbying efforts of civil society.
One of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development is broad public participation in decision-making. Especially in the context of environment and development, the need for new forms of participation has emerged.
At the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), better known as the “Earth Summit” in 1992, Governments adopted Agenda 21, an action plan to achieve sustainable development. Agenda 21 defines the nine ‘Major Groups’ and in chapter 23 recognizes the important role of civil society and the need to strengthen the role of Major Groups.
“Business and industry, Children and youth, Farmers, Indigenous Peoples and their communities, Local Authorities, Non-governmental organizations, The scientific and technological community, Women, Workers and Trade Unions.”
WFEO Engineers for a Sustainable Post 2015
UNFCCC SBSTA 44 Meeting Summary, Bonn, Germany, May 2016
High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development
WURC participation consists of interacting with the UN as a member of the S&TMG by responding to specific requests for input in writing and through personal representation at meeting such as the high-level political forum (HLPF) on sustainable development is the main United Nations platform on sustainable development.
The first meeting of the HLPF was in September 2013. WFEO represented the S&TMG at that meeting and held the S&T seat at the meeting. WURC continues participating and was represented at the June 26 to July 8 , 2015 meeting at the UN.
Monitoring Sustainable Engineering Activities by Others
In addition WURC participates or monitors sustainable development activities globally. An important sustainability statement by the International Congress on Advances on Nuclear Power Plants is presented in the link below. This meeting was attended by a member of WURC.
The “Nuclear for Climate” Declaration
WURC is currently meeting monthly with the UN Strategic Development Goals Plan in New York
WURC participated in two meetings in November and December 2015 as follows:
November to December 2015 , WECC World Engineering Conference and Convention
December 2015 in UNFCCC COP 21 [The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty (currently the only international climate policy venue with broad legitimacy, due in part to its virtually universal membership) negotiated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)]
WURC Activities to date
Activities of this Committee as well as WFEO sustainable development activities performed before the creation of WURC are shown below.
RIO+20 Summit Conference
WFEO had an active participation at the Rio+20 Conference allowing the contribution of the Engineering community to sustainable development deliberations in the position of an important stakeholder.
RIO+20 Summit Conference Report
United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
The Energy Committee represented WFEO at the following meetings of CSD held at the UN Headquarters in New York:
- CSD-14 Session, 1 – 12 May 2006
- Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM), 25 February – 2 March 2007
- CSD-15 Session, 30 April – 11 May 2007
- CSD-16 Session, 5 – 16 May 2008
- Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM), 23 to 27 February 2009
- CSD -17 Session, 4 – 15 May 2009
- CSD -18 Session, 3 – 14 May 2010
- Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM), 28 February – 4 March 2011
- CSD -19 Session, 2 – 13 May 2011
The first three meetings in 2006-07 focused on issues related to Energy for Sustainable Development; Industrial Development; Air pollution/Atmosphere, and Climate Change; those in 2008-09 to Agriculture, Rural Development, Land, Drought, Desertification, and Africa, and those in 2010-11 to Sustainable Consumption and Production, Transport, Chemicals, Waste Management, and Mining.
At the request of the UNCSD Secretariat, the Committee contributed the WFEO position on several issues for the preparation of the UN Secretary General’s Report to CSD-15, CSD-16, CSD-17, CSD-18 and CSD-19. Also, the WFEO delegation produced together with ICSU, discussion papers for each of such meetings stating the positions of the Scientific and Technological Community on the issues under discussion. The Scientific and Technological Community, made up by WFEO and ICSU, is one of the Major Groups of Civil Society recognized by the U.N. system.
At CSD-17, the Energy Committee co-sponsored, together with the Engineering and Environment and the Capacity Building Committees, the side event on “Capacity Building: Words Into Action” to discuss issues on physical, social & economic infrastructure related to Agriculture, Rural development and Land. This event was held on 6 May 2009 and engaged 71 delegates and members of major groups from more than 20 countries who considered perspectives on effective capacity building actions to deal with such issues.
On the occasion of CSD-18, WFEO held a side event on “Transport Efficiency and Waste Avoidance – Input for Policy-Makers”. This event that took place on May 4, 2010 was organized by the WFEO Standing Committees on Energy (CE), Engineering and Environment (CEE) and Capacity Building (CCB).
At CSD-19, these Standing Committees organized on May 6, 2011 a WFEO side event on “State-of-the-art, Innovative and Sustainable Technologies in Waste Management, Mining, Transport and Chemicals”.
The position sustained by the WFEO delegation has been to provide the technical expertise required for searching feasible solutions on issues under discussion and to stress the need for serious observance of scientific principles and engineering criteria when proposing actions on sustainability and development matters.
The Energy Committee was responsible for organizing the WFEO participation at the Innovation Fair held during the Ministerial ECOSOC Session, from 30 June to 3 July 2008, at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
This was done with the collaboration of the Committee on Engineering and Environment. The WFEO Exhibit displayed projects sponsored respectively by Engineers Canada and FEBRAE (Brazil). Also, on July 1st 2008, WFEO, Engineers Canada, FEBRAE and CONFEA, with the support of AIChE, ASCE and ASME, held, as a side event, a Panel on “The Role of Engineers in Advancing Sustainable Development: Working Towards Achieving the Millennium Goals”.
The Energy Committee was also engaged in implementing the WFEO participation at the 2009 ECOSOC Innovation Fair to global public health. The Fair was held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, from 6 to 9 July 2009.
The WURC Team