I am standing for Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme
My dear blog readers,
I have decided to apply for the position of Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
I wanted to go over in two blogs first who I am and then second what my vision would be.
In these blogs I will share what people have said over the years about my work. These quotes do not indicate they are supporting me for UNEP Executive Director.
“Felix Dodds deserves high respect and admiration for his unswerving and dedicated efforts as one of the key leaders of the global NGO movement for sustainable development for several decades."
Lars Goran Engfeldt, Former Environment Ambassador of Sweden (2012)
I believe that we are living in an almost-unprecedented period of complex and rapidly-shifting challenges to multilateralism, layered on top of the multiple threats to ours and all other species on this planet.
UNEP needs to fulfil its essential role in leading nations and stakeholders to creatively work together in ensuring that these threats are addressed and resolved effectively.
Governments naturally underpin our multilateral system, but today’s challenges require also multi-stakeholder responses. All of us need to be working together.
Over my entire career, I have been a strong advocate for multilateralism in all its forms. I have taken a leadership role in highlighting the issues such as:
- human and environmental security,
- water and sanitation;
- the nexus of food-water-energy and climate change,
- governance at all levels, and
- the role that stakeholders can play in supporting representative democracy in policy development and in partnerships.
In this I have been a consistent advocate for the United Nations its mission and its values and the leadership role it can play in these difficult times.
I recognize that it is less-than-traditional for one to apply for head of a UN Programme or Agency from outside the customary roles of Minister, senior official or Ambassador, but I believe I have acquired many of the same and additional experiences and skills through decades of experience advising and consulting for national governments and UN agencies/programmes, and working with extensive international coalitions of NGOs, IGOs, sub-national governments and the private sector. More significantly, I have often worked in the interface between those organisations and national governments in multiple UN processes, covering a wide range of sectoral and most recently nexus areas.
"There is hardly anyone who knows the international sustainable development scene better than Felix Dodds. A lot of the progress that has been achieved over the past twenty years could not have been achieved without his engagement and input."
Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (2015)
Given the extraordinary sectoral, economic and political challenges of the times, I believe that the skills and relationships gained in such experience is essential to UNEP playing its role in successfully addressing the complex issues we face – in no small part by bringing different sets of stakeholders to the table around results-based initiatives.
My record of achievement
My involvement in the environment movement started in 1983 working initially in the UK on acid rain issues and then ozone depletion. I organized the first recycling scheme for CFCs from fridges by local authorities in 1988. I edited my first book on environmental issues in 1988 called Into the 21st Century – it had the UK’s leading environmentalist writing in it and a well-known German Green member of parliament Petra Kelly.
My first engagement in intergovernmental meetings was at the London Montreal Protocol meeting in 1989. It was an important meeting but also remembered for the UK increasing its financial contribution to UNEP where Mrs Thatcher announced a larger amount than her Secretary of State intended her to do and when he challenged her...her answer was find the money. My second engagement in the intergovernmental world was the Second World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1990. For this event we worked with the BBC to have two youth delegates coem with a film crew and address the conference.
For the 1992 Rio Earth Summit I organized over 20 UK town hall meetings, a national conference (April) with a video message from a relatively unknown Senator at the time – Al Gore.
After Rio I was founder and Executive Director of UNED-UK [later called Stakeholder Forum], the first multi-stakeholder committee in the UK, that served as both UNEP’s and UNDP’s national committee. It brought together both the environment and development movement, and diverse stakeholders, for the first time into a national platform
"Felix is a rock on which the Stakeholder Forum built a generation of influence, initiatives, responding campaigns and successes."
Jean Pierre Thebault, former Ambassador for the Environment, France (2012)
At the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, I helped organize (1994) and then co-chaired the CSD NGO/stakeholder Steering Committee (1996-2001), the initial omnibus stakeholder representative council body.
The Steering Committee included nearly 2,000 NGO and stakeholder organisations which were organised into sectoral, regional and issue caucuses, to facilitate their outreach to additional groups which could then input into our preparations. I managed policy and process cooperation among all nine stakeholder sectors, and then coordinated closely with UN DESA’s Division on Sustainable Development on implementation.
Stakeholder Forum also established global stakeholder coalitions for Habitat II (1996), UNECE Health and Environment Conference (1998) and the Health Forum around the UNECE Conference in London.
At the UN General Assembly in November 1996, as NGO/stakeholder Steering Committee Co-chair, I proposed the idea of multi-stakeholder dialogues for the Commission on Sustainable Development’s five-year review of Agenda 21 (1997. I then helped to manage – with UNDESA -those CSD dialogues from 1998 to 2001.
Subsequently, I was asked by the government of Germany to manage stakeholder dialogues for their international conferences: Bonn Water (2001), Bonn Energy (2004) and Bonn Nexus (2011).
Stakeholder Forum (SF) played a significant role in the early planning of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), when I set up and facilitated the ‘Friends Group of member States for Rio+10’ (1998-2002). In addition, SF hosted a government-UN-stakeholder retreat at Wilton Park which developed much of the text that became General Assembly resolution 55/199.
During the same time period, I led SF in organised stakeholder engagement for UNEP for WSSD. This included overseeing a joint UNEP/UNF/member State/Stakeholder Forum grant, for stakeholder outreach and the creation of multi-stakeholder partnerships for the WSSD.
In preparation for Johannesburg we worked collaboratively with UN bodies, member States and stakeholders to organize the Implementation Conference, where ‘Type II’ multi-stakeholder partnerships were launched.
In 2002, I co-created and initially managed, the first global network for sub-national government – the Network for Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4sd) which has gone on to play its role at different UN forums since then.
Nearly a decade later (November 2008), Stakeholder Forum facilitated the first member State-UN-stakeholder workshop on what should be the proposed themes for the Rio+20 Conference. The workshop produced a Donostia Declaration that suggested the four themes for the summit which would eventually be agreed by member States. In 2010, UNDESA/ SF secured an EU grant to support stakeholder participation in Rio+20.
“Felix’s vision and efforts have given Stakeholder Forum an important leadership role in helping to strengthen UN-NGO relations and processes, frame dialogue and direction on Rio+20 and the development agenda.”
Ambassador Liz Thompson former Assistant Secretary General Rio+20 (2012)
Since 2001, I’ve worked directly with and for UN offices and agencies and with member States, providing expertise on sectoral issues, mobilizing support for environmental and sustainable development processes, and promoting significant policy initiatives.
In 2007 I established and co-directed the Water and Climate Coalition, jointly with the Stockholm International Water Institute. This multi-stakeholder coalition brought together the global water community to advocate under one platform at the UNFCCC, and succeeded at securing water as a topic in the climate negotiations. This was achieved within three years of lobbying (2008-2011)
"Felix has been a permanent fixture in the world of major groups, both as an immovable force and a force for inspiration, determination and confidence boosting when at times the cause he and so many of us have espoused has often seemed hopeless and frustrating."
Nick Nuttal, UNEP and UNFCCC former Communications Director (2012)
In 2011, I chaired the United Nations DPI NGO Conference on ‘Sustainable Societies Responsive Citizens’. The responsibilities included, as with any UN Conference, negotiating the host country agreement and relations with the city.
Due to recognition of my work the City of Bonn asked me to serve as one of their International Ambassadors. The conference had over 2000 stakeholders attending and many more participating in suggesting ideas for its outcome document. The 2011 Conference was the first event to suggest a set of Sustainable Development Goals.
In 2016, I was a Member of the President of the UNGA’s Informal Expert Group on Sustainable Finance. Since then I have advocated with member States and worked with UNDESA, UNCTAD, UN Global Compact and UNEP on a possible General Assembly resolution on Investment for the Sustainable Development.
"The work done by Felix to promote the sustainability agenda and the crucial role of the UN system as well as the broad involvement of civil society goes far beyond what one could expect from one individual."
Johan Kuylenstierna former Executive Director Stockholm Environment Institute (2012)
During the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) negotiations, I was the adviser to the Ford Foundation and their grantees, and served as the Political Advisor for the Communitas Coalition, a multi-stakeholder platform advocating for inclusion of an SDG on Cities. The work of the Coalition, which continued through Habitat III when the project culminated, having achieved its aims. Communitas was managed by UN Habitat, ICLEI and nrg4sd.
Under contract or request by UN offices, I’ve written and edited expert background papers for government retreats and briefings. These have included
for UNEP – “Enhance the role of Major Groups and Stakeholders in UNEP's Programme of Work” (2010).
for UNDESA – background paper for the “Solo Retreat for Rio+20” (2011).
for UN Water – “Chapter 1 (on climate and water) of the World Water Report (2012).
for UNDESA – “Review of Agenda 21 and the Rio Principles for Rio+20” (2012).
for UNDP – “Briefing paper on the follow up to the United Nations Rio+20 Conference for Arab Economic Ministers” (2012).
for IRENA – a draft stakeholder policy (2013-14).
for UNDESA – background paper for a government retreat, “Multi-stakeholder partnerships: making them work for the Post-2015 Development Agenda” (2015).
In 2015 I helped re-establish and now act as a secretariat for the Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development, an informal caucus of governments around the General Assembly. For the Group, I’ve produced for their workshops the following papers: by myself or with colleagues:
- “What should be the outcome from the 2019 HLPF Summit?” (2018)
- “Principles and Practices of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships for Sustainable Development Guidance and Oversight from UN Decisions” (2018)
- “What to do with the SDG Targets that fall in 2020 and 2025?” (2017)
- “Time Has Come - Sustainable Development Private Finance to Support the 2030 Agenda” (2016)
- “Partnerships lessons from the first ten years of Type 2 Partnerships commitments” (2015)
- “Key questions for an interlinked and coherent governance for the review and follow-up of the post 2015 agenda and its SDG and the Addis Ababa commitments” (2015).
I have edited or written 17 books to date a further two will come out this year. Three of those books have chronicled the sustainable development history - known as the Vienna Cafe Trilogy: One One Earth with Maurice Strong (first Executive Director of UNEP) and Michael Strauss, From Rio+20 to the New Development Agenda with Liz Thompson and Jorge Laguna-Celis and Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals with Ambassador David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva Roesch
Most recently I have focused on the interlinkage agenda.
I have co-directed the 2014 and 2018 Nexus Conferences on Water-Food-Energy and Climate at the University of North Carolina, with support from numerous UN Agencies and Programmes, and participation by representatives of national governments and foreign ministries. Since 2011, I have taken a leading role in advocating for addressing the interlinkages of the SDGs and their targets.
“Having seen some of the other NGOs in action from within and from the European Commission, it was always a pleasure to deal with Felix, not for him the constant problems, rather solutions. Felix has made a big contribution to bringing together Environment and Development NGOs together and to driving forward sustainable development.”
Margaret Brusasco-Mackenzie former European Commission negotiator. (2012)
Most of the above advocacy coalitions that I organised – both of stakeholders and national governments – were complex, multinational and multi-cultural, always securing a majority of representatives from developing countries, and gender balanced. Each of those coalitions played a significant role in policy development in their areas.
This experience is what I am building my application on. Blog two will look at my vision for UNEP.