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Officials from UN and Hoboken Visit Saint Peter’s for Environmental Forum

Officials from the UN and City of Hoboken came to campus on Tuesday, October 6 to discuss local and global efforts toward achieving environmental sustainability and creating resilience against man-made and natural disasters.

The discussion, titled “Environmental Sustainability and Risk Management, was part of a lecture series hosted by The Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter’s University. The panel featured Glenn Dolcemascolo, programme officer, UN International Strategy on Disaster Risk Reduction, Esteban Olhagaray, policy analyst, UN Development Operations Coordination Office, and Stephen Marks, municipal manager of Hoboken.  Alexander Mirescu, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, served as the moderator.

The discussion focused on environmental challenges encompassing three major themes:  sustainability, climate change and disaster risk reduction

“The guiding word today is ‘resilience,’” said Dr. Mirescu. “The year 2015 is one of the most important years in understanding the relationship between the global challenges we’re facing — you can’t deny the growing intensity of climate events.”

Highlights of the forum included discussing efforts both locally and globally to manage disaster risk and climate change as well as explaining the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are updated targets and topics included in the UN’s aggressive framework, Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The panel touched upon each of the 17 goals, which include ending poverty, achieving food security, promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing hunger, among others.

Olhagaray described the goals as having a much wider, encompassing scope with an even more ambitious agenda then the UN’s prior plan. He also explained how the new agenda has more universality and is more aggressive. For example, the prior agenda strived to eliminate percentages of starvation and poverty whereas the new framework aims to eradicate those issues completely.

“The bar is raised very much higher, which is great,” he said. “All the goals are for everyone and the integrated nature of the new agenda will allow everyone to work together better and establish more synergies.”