The Gainesville Chapter of the United Nations Association held its United Nations Day celebration
on Friday, October 21 at the Gainesville Woman's Club. The theme of the program was “One
Humanity, Shared Responsibility: Climate Issues from Paris to Gainesville.”
Dr. Peggy Macdonald Executive Director of the Matheson History Museum served as Chair for the
Day. After the Welcome, Dr. Anita Spring gave a short introduction on the 2015 United Nations
Climate Change Conference (Conference of the Parties—COP 21) held in Paris, France, November
30 to December 12, 2015. It was the 21st yearly session of the 1992 United Nations Framework
Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties to the
1997 Kyoto Protocol. Its goal is to strengthen global response to threat of climate change. The accord
aims to keep temperature rise this century below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and
limit rise to 1.5 Celsius.
By the week of the UN Day event, 83 nations had ratified COP 21. Subsequently, and at the time of
this writing and after COP 22 in Morocco on November 16, 2016, 115 of the currently 197 Parties to
the Convention have signed the accord.
It should be noted that the Climate Accord fits into the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were
ratified by 193 nations for the time period 2015-2030.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Glenn Galloway, Director of the Sustainable Development Program,
University of Florida. He spoke on “Curbing Climate Change from the Perspective of Sustainable
Development” and received a standing ovation. He first considered that the earth’s permafrost’s
stored methane is released into the atmosphere where it is more potent that Co2, and then showed that
93% of Earth’s heat is trapped into the oceans leading to increased weather disturbances (events such
as hurricanes) and high temperatures, while leading to shortages and surpluses of rain and sea water.
Such events have accelerated due to increasing industrial emissions and agricultural development. He
also discussed wind and its mitigation, as well as solar energy, both the public and private sector
involvement. The Climate Accord includes funds for mitigation, but he asked: “If we spend all the
money on mitigation, what happens to food and development? He argued that we need a combination
of three climate-resilient pathways: adaptation, mitigations, and sustainable development that also
include equity and good ethical practices.
Author and ‘Climate Reality Leader’ Susan Nugent, spoke on “After Paris: The Climate Change Action
Network.” Her presentation showed her own participation in the Paris Conference along with members
from various non-governmental agencies. Several of the women kept in touch with each other, after they
returned to their countries, and were able to compare their activities on climate change issues in terms
of their respective constituencies. As a dedicated advocate, she argues that citizens from many
countries, as well as citizens in Florida and Gainesville can take steps to fulfilling the 17 Sustainable
Development Goals including practicing responsible consumption, holding educational discussions and
programs, and interacting with United Nations and their own governmental and political entities. In
addition, her article on the UNA event entitled “Climate Goals are a Shared Responsibility” appeared in
the Gainesville Sun on October 30 (Section F6).
Abhaya Thiele, the Southeast Regional Coordinator of Citizens Climate Lobby, spoke on
“Florida Citizens Climate Lobby”. She discussed curbing climate change from the
perspective of sustainable development. She provided local examples of activism along
these lines. She explained that a bipartisan policy would establish a steadily-rising fee on
carbon-based sources of energy, at the point where they are produced. The revenue from
this fee would be divided up equally among all American households, adding to jobs.
The Gainesville Chapter of UNA was again fortunate to have a guest speaker from the
national Headquarters of UNA-USA in Washington D.C. Ms. Tyler Browning, the
Administrative Assistant for “Nothing But Nets” spoke on “Climate, Mosquitoes and
Refugees” in which she argued that climate change, as well as political unrest increases
the number of people who become migrants in their own countries, as well as increasing
the number of refugees seeking asylum in host countries. Along these lines, Dr. Anita
Spring presented a brief description of the current UNA-USA campaign on behalf of
UNHCR (United Nations High Commission of Refugees—“The UN Refugee Agency”) to
Adopt-a-Future and raise funds to educate refugee children. Women and children make up
80% of refugees, and 51% are children. The campaign focuses on capacitating schools in
This UN Day program had 30 organizational and 5 individual Sponsors, and 19 Exhibitors
who participated in the event—and there were over 125 attendees. The UN Day
Committee was chaired by Masuma Downie, who also coordinated the speakers. Lisa
Renner coordinated the sponsors and exhibitors. Bill Whitney was the AV producer. The
extensive World Bazaar, shepherded by Polly Doughty, Julie Burns, and Dr. Barbara
McDade, had objects for sale from all over the world; the proceeds were given to UNICEF.
UNA chapter board members assisted in greeting and recruiting new members.
- Published: 01 October 2017 01 October 2017