Immediately after UNEA-5.2, the Assembly will hold a Special Session of the Assembly on 3 - 4 March 2022, which is devoted to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of UN Environment Programme in 1972 (UNEP@50). The special session will be held under the theme "Strengthening UNEP for the implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
This feed will tell you everything you need to know about UNEA-5 and UNEP@50 with links to live sessions, new reports and critical debates as they happen. Stay tuned!
2 hours ago
Green Gigaton Challenge aims to reduce emissions
The Challenge advocates for deploying nature to find solutions for sustainable development, such as investing in tropical forests, to reduce emissions and is a key element in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement, namely reducing climate change to well below 2°C, preferably to 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. As well as reducing emissions, forests also increase biodiversity and ensure water regulation, offering a rounded environmental solution.
For more information on the GGC check out the website here.
Last updated at 9.16am EAT
13 hours ago
Urban agriculture could hold the key to increasing sustainability
A new report launched by UNEP looks at the potential of urban agriculture to advance multiple sustainability goals.
The report, written as environmental challenges grow and after the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fragility of food systems, looks at how urban agriculture can help feed people. At the same time, urban agriculture can help alleviate the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss and pollution and waste.
Over 450 participants, almost 50 per cent of who were women, from 76 countries and 55 religions and congregations gathered to discuss what role religion could play in protecting the environment.
The first day of the event, which is part of UNEA-5.2, was held on February 21 but events will run until March 4.
For those interested in faith and the environment you can register for future events here.
Last updated at 5.50pm EAT
Let UNEA-5.2 "be a time to dream big, but also to be practical" - Alponce Muia
The Youth Environment Assembly (YEA) 2022 met for its first day on Saturday, February 19 in the run up to UNEA-5.2.
More than 100 young people met in person in Nairobi, Kenya with hundreds more joining online.
Alponce Muia, a youth representative from Kenya, applauded the participation of so many young people as a testament to their ability to realize aspirations. He asked the youth to dream big but also to be practical in what could be achieved.
The theme of the meeting was “The Power in Youth.” For more information on the YEA check out their homepage here.
Last updated at 9.05am EAT
Inger Andersen on delivering "for a people and a planet in an emergency"
Next week at #UNEA in Nairobi, Kenya🇰🇪 we will deliberate on how to get on track to live in harmony with nature. The highest decision-making authority on the environment, we seek global progress on plastic pollution; biodiversity & health; & nature for sustainable development. pic.twitter.com/28ejU19sRd
All you need to know about the UN Environment Assembly
As UNEA-5.2 prepares to meet in Nairobi and online we've drawn together a resource answering some of the key questions around the event.
These include: What is the difference between UNEA-5.1 and UNEA-5.2?What will happen and when?Why does it matter and what will be achieved?
For answers to all these questions and more check out the explainerhere.
Last updated at 1.25pm EAT
Your choices: the world's future
In the next decade, millions of new “green” jobs will be created in new industries - for young people. These jobs will represent an opportunity to earn a steady living while helping to tackle some of the planet’s biggest challenges, from climate change to pollution to species loss.
But what skills will young people need to land these planet-friendly jobs? Explore this interactive piece to learn more about thetype of skills you will need.
This and other subjects important to youth are being discussed at the Youth Environment Assembly 2022, more information on the event and how you can get involved can be found here.
Last updated at 8.35am EAT
Join the Faith for Earth Dialogue at UNEA 5.2
The Faith for Earth Dialogue is open to all stakeholders, demonstrating the power and potential of faith-based organisations and faith leaders in shaping the discussions at the resumed Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) as well as engaging in policy dialogue with other stakeholders including governments, major groups, cities, businesses and other civil society organisations. The meeting will be held from 21 February to 4 March 2022.
Find all the information on how to participate here.
Last updated at 1.22pm EAT
Happening Now: Watch UNEA 5.2 live online
The resumed Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) will take place in Nairobi and online.
For those who want to follow online, a schedule can be found hereand the live stream can be found here.
Streaming starts today with the Opening Plenary of the Fifth Meeting of the Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives. UNEA-5.2 will start streaming on 28 February.
Last updated at 4.38pm EAT
Reducing food shortages and emissions go hand in hand
As the climate crisis unfolds and the world warms faster than at any time in history, food shortages are becoming increasingly common. Across the planet one in 10 people do not have enough food to eat, but there are solutions.
Food system solutions can help end shortages and mitigate the climate crisis, a double win.
UNEP’s six-sector solution outlines what can be done to cut 30 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emission annually by 2030 and keep the temperature rise below 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement.
One of the six-sectors is agricultural, food and waste solutions. Ending food waste, eating a plant rich diet, eating seasonal and local food and promoting climate-smart and sustainable agriculture practices all help to reduce emissions and cut food shortages at the same time. Sustainable food systems will be one of the key themes at UNEA-5.2where experts will discuss what more can be done to reduce food shortages and emissions from agriculture.
For more information check out UNEP’s six-sector solution here.
Last updated at 11.06am EAT
Happening today: Youth hold the key to solving the climate crisis
UNEP is determined to involve those most affected by the crisis in the solutions.
As part of this UNEP will be supporting the Youth Environment Assembly 2022 in the lead up to UNEA 5.2. The purpose of the Assembly, which is held between 19-20 and 25-27 February is to bring together youth organisations and advocates from across the world and involve and engage them in the process.
If you would like to get involved in the Youth Environment Assembly it’s not too late, you can register here.
Three emerging issues: noise pollution, wildfires and how climate change is changing the rhythm of nature are highlighted. The report looks at the long-term physical and mental impact of noise pollution, how climate change and human activity are impacting wildfires and how the climate crisis is disrupting the life cycle patterns of plants and animals.
To read the full report and see the accompanying interactive features check here.
Last updated at 4.37pm EAT
Human, animal and planetary health intertwined
Experts agree that its very likely COVID-19 was a zoonotic disease, a disease passed from animals to humans. They also agree that keeping nature and species diversity intact can protects us from future pandemics.
As the planet warms, biodiversity decreases, and globalization increases the conditions for pandemics and zoonotic disease increase. Although COVID-19 is not the first zoonotic disease, it is one of the worst. Yet, each year two million people, largely in low and middle-income countries, die from zoonotic diseases such as anthrax, bovine tuberculosis and rabies.
The key to reducing zoonotic disease and pandemics is a by taking a “One Health” approach. This is where human health, animal health and environmental health are considered equally, a topic that will be central when experts meet at the end of this month in Nairobi for UNEA-5.2.
The report will play a crucial role in informing discussions at UNEA-5.2, held at the end of February and beginning of March 2022 in Nairobi.
But plastic pollution is not just a problem for governments and global organizations to solve, for more information on what you can do to become part of the solution head over to UNEP’s Clean Seas campaign.
Last updated at 4.04pm EAT
UNEA-5 to resume in person in Nairobi
COVID-19 has impacted almost every area of our lives and UNEA-5 is no different. For the first time ever UNEA has been split over two years. The first meeting (UNEA-5.1) was held in February 2021 and was entirely online. At the end of this month delegates will meet in person in Nairobi for UNEA-5.2, the draft structure of the event can be seen here.
Last updated at 2.00pm EAT
The world must unite in a war against plastic
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen in an op-ed in The Times highlights how reducing plastic use could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 per cent and create 700,000 additional jobs, mainly in the global south.
"Reducing plastic use seems like one of the easiest environmental actions people can take. We re-use bags, put takeout coffee in our own mugs or recycle our plastic bottles, and feel good about ourselves. But it is not so simple. Plastic pollution is still causing immense harm to our planet." - Inger Andersen
Closing the finance gap for nature-based solutions
Experts agree, resetting our relationship with nature is critical. Nature-basedsolutions have a key role to play in this reset, but more funding is needed.
There is a funding shortfall of $4.1 trillion that needs to be closed by 2050. Without this funding climate change, biodiversity and land degradation targets won’t be met.
Today $133 billion annually is going into nature-based solutions but this is four times less than is needed to avoid the climate crisis. Private finance currently only provides 14 per cent of this. Drastic action is needed by the private and public sectors with contributions having to triple by 2030. As leaders meet for UNEA-5.2 at the end of this month, closing this financial gap and involving private finance will be a key part of the discussions.
Fighting the climate crisis not only makes sense in terms of protecting the planet but it makes financial sense as well.
Ecosystem Restoration, which will be a central theme at UNEA-5.2, can play a key part in helping to meet the Paris Agreement and keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C. But there are financial benefits as well, for every dollar invested in restoration 30 dollars is created in economic benefits.
UNEP is at the forefront of how we can measure wealth and well-being that better reflect the health of the planet as well as of people and economic systems. You can read the whole storyhere.
Last updated at 10.07am EAT
UNEP@50: A Conversation with Elizabeth Mrema and Ibrahim Thiaw
Anniversaries offer opportunities to reflect on the past and imagine the future. In 2022, UNEP turns fifty and has a chance to reimagine itself. Created to catalyze environmental work within the United Nations and beyond, how has UNEP done? What are the new challenges and what should it do differently? Who can cause that change, and how can they do so? To explore the questions over the year that commemorates UNEP’s 50th anniversary, the Center for Governance and Sustainability at UMass Boston convenes a series of conversations with leaders around the world who have shaped UNEP’s history. Guests will engage with the new book by Center Director Prof. Maria Ivanova,The Untold Story of the World’s Leading Environmental Institution: UNEP at Fifty.
For the sixth dialogue, Dr Maria Ivanova will be joined by Elizabeth Mrema and Ibrahim Thiaw, the Executive Secretaries of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. Both Elizabeth Mrema and Ibrahim Thiaw have served at UNEP – as Director of the Law Division and as Deputy Executive Director respectively. Join this dialogue to discuss the role of environmental conventions and UNEP in global environmental governance.
Last updated at 2.06pm EAT
UNEA 5 Paper is online: Nature at the Heart of Sustainable Development
The resumed Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) provides the opportunity to bridge, build on and catalyze impact in relation to multilateral environmental efforts including on biodiversity, climate, food systems, and pollution. It also marks the start of a period of reflection and review when it marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of UNEP.
This document is designed to assist Member States and other high-level representatives from industry and civil society, in their preparations for the resumed meeting of UNEA-5. UNEA 5 will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 28 February–2 March 2022 under the theme “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” The paper lays out the call to action under each of UNEA’s four thematics and the opportunity in action – for people and planet.
Last updated at 1.47pm EAT
High-level briefing on second segment of UNEA-5
This briefing will provide an update on the presidency priorities for UNEA-5.2, scheduled to take place virtually from 28 February - 2 March 2022.
H.E. Espen Barth Eide, UNEA President | Minister of Climate and the Environment, Norway
H.E. Amb. Franz Perrez, Ambassador for the Environment & Head, International Affairs Division, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland
Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director, WECF International
UNEA-5.2 high level briefing on Global Instrument on plastic pollution
As plastic is a global issue, international cooperation is needed to coordinate actions to have efficient decision making in order to tackle this major environmental problem. Many governments, businesses, civil society organizations and academic institutions have thus been calling for the establishment of a global legally-binding instrument to address the risks posed by plastic throughout its lifecycle.
With only a few weeks left before this major event in the global agenda of environmental governance, this briefing will offer an overview of the preparations for the negotiations on this important matter. Register and find more information.
Last updated at 8.20pm EAT
UNEP at 50: Solving the world’s environmental challenges
From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale.
Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production are fuelling the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that the triple crisis is humanity’s number one existential threat.
Last year, he reminded the world that “We are at a crossroads, with consequential choices before us. It can go either way: breakdown or breakthrough.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for a recovery “for people, planet and prosperity” -
In his New Year's message for 2022, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted, "Moments of great difficulty are also moments of great opportunity: To come together in solidarity. To unite behind solutions that can benefit all. And to move forward with hope in what our human family can accomplish."
Delegate registration is open: Resumed Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2)
Hosted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) brings together representatives of the 193 Member States of the UN, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders to agree on policies to address the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
The resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) takes place online and in Nairobi on 28 February – 2 March 2022.
UNEA-5.2 and its preparatory meetings, namely the resumed fifth session of the Open-Ended Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR-5.2) from 21 - 25 February 2022 and the 3rd consultation of the process established under General Assembly resolution 73/333 on 16 - 18 February 2022, will be hybrid meetings, with a combination of universal in-person presence and online participation. Delegates please register here.
To mark UNEP’s 50th anniversary, a year-long series of activities and outreach events are taking place under the UNEP@50 banner. These recognize the significant progress made on global environmental matters and address the planetary challenges to come.
This sets the stage for aspecial session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) taking place in Nairobi, Kenya and online, on 3 and 4 March, 2022. This high-level event will be devoted to the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of UNEP in 1972.
Last updated at 11.27am EAT
UNEA-5.1 ends with clear message: Act now to tackle planetary crises
The virtual Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly ended on Tuesday with a clear message: our fragile planet needs more and it needs it now. More action, more cooperation, more finance, more ambition and more sustained commitment to tackle environmental crises and rebuild societies ravaged by the global pandemic.
UNEA-5.1 closing message highlights urgency to protect planet with collective action
At the end of an unprecedented virtual Fifth Session of UNEA, Member States released a statement outlining their deep concerns about the devastating effects of the global pandemic and acknowledging the urgency to continue their efforts to protect our planet in this time of crisis.
The delegates also reiterated their support for the United Nations and for multilateral cooperation and “remain convinced that collective action is essential to successfully address global challenges”.
Unprecedented UNEA-5.1 sets tone for critical year for nature
UNEA-5 has set the world on the right path to tackle the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature loss and pollution in this critical year for the future of our fragile planet, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said in a press conference on the margins of the Environment Assembly on Tuesday.
“2021 can be the year when we make peace with nature. It’s up to us to make it happen and UNEA-5 was a big step in this direction,” she said, adding that it was now time to put words into action.
UNEA-5 President Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway’s minister for environment, said the fact that 151 countries registered and connected online along with civil society and other stakeholders showed how important Member States thought it was to meet to discuss the environment.
“Everyone gathered at the Environment Assembly today is deeply concerned about how the pandemic causes new and serious health, socio-economic and environmental challenges and how it exacerbates existing ones all over the world. Development gains have been set back, undermining our common efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said, warning that the world would face recurring risks of pandemics if we maintain our current unstainable patterns in our interactions with nature.
Rotevatn and Andersen both hailed the approval of UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy, programme of work and budget by UNEA-5 as these will ensure UNEP is well placed to help Member States respond to the environmental crises.
On second day, UNEA delegates describe how they are building back better
On the second day of UNEA-5.1, delegates were left in no doubt that 2021 marks a critical turning point if we want to secure a future where people and planet can thrive together.
“Future generations stand to inherit a hothouse planet with more carbon in the atmosphere than in 800,000 years. Future generations will live in sinking cities. From Basra to Lagos. From Mumbai to Houston. Future generations will be lucky if they can spot a black rhino. And future generations will have to live with our toxic waste – which every year is enough to fill 125,000 Olympic size swimming pools,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen.
Delegates heard a passionate call to arms from Indian environmental activist Afroz Shah. He said we need to do more than talk. “The problem is our rights are weighing too heavy on the rights of the other species. This delicate balance will have to tilt in the favour of other species and that is the key,” he told delegates.
Several delegates stressed the importance of multilateral action and global cooperation.
As Bérangere Abba, France’s State Secretary for Biodiversity said: “Coordinated action is needed at global level. All of us here stand determined to take action; after all future generations will be judging us based on the decisions we take today.”
Several delegates stressed the importance of technology and innovation in tackling the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature loss and pollution. Other delegates spoke of their commitments to protect forests, peatlands, mangroves, boost green investment, adopt circular economy approaches and tackle waste and single-use plastics.
“I remain certain that with clarity of vision, determination and through multilateral action and international cooperation, we can stabilize the climate; we can live in harmony with nature, and we can ensure a pollution-free planet. But only by working together, with common purpose and in mutual solidarity. Let today’s dialogue be a reflection of that global commitment,” said UNEP’s Andersen.
The Leadership Dialogue will be followed this afternoon by a final plenary session. Follow it live here.
Calls for all of society to take urgent action on first day of UNEA-5.1
As an unprecedented virtual UNEA-5 began, delegates were reminded that urgent action is required to make peace with nature and end our unsustainable consumption and production. It is a whole-of-society effort.
Sveinung Rotevatn, the president of UNEA-5, said at the opening plenary: we are in this together and we must respond together, each doing our part.
In a recorded message, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said 2021 is a critical year to reset our relationship with nature, noting that Member States will also gather this year to address biodiversity loss, chemical pollution, ocean health, desertification and climate disruption. The urgency for action has never been clearer, he said.
And that’s because this year, all countries are expected to come forward with more ambitious commitments on cutting greenhouse gas emissions; reversing species and ecosystem loss, and managing chemicals and waste.
The stakes are high. Representatives from the Major Group for Children and Youth told the Opening Plenary that their voices must be heard by those working to secure the next generation’s future.
The road ahead is clear. Last week, UNEP published its Making Peace with Nature report, which provides a blueprint for redefining our relationship with nature. The report notes that unsustainable consumption and production is the red thread running through the planetary emergency we face. It cannot continue.
The shadow of COVID-19 hangs heavy over this UNEA. In today’s Leadership Dialogue, Member States stressed the importance of backing a green recovery to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.
Ministers revealed how their countries are already building back better, whether through focusing on circular economy initiatives, reforestation, land rehabilitation or other measures to restore damaged ecosystems and create green jobs.
Several delegates stated that human health is inextricably linked to the health of nature and biodiversity, and stressed that recovery packages offered a unique opportunity to increase ambition on climate and biodiversity goals while simultaneously easing the burden on the most vulnerable.
In the opening plenary, Member States also adopted UNEP’s Medium-Term strategy for 2022-2025, the programme of work and the budget. This will allow UNEP to go further faster as we tackle these existential crises.
Today’s meeting also marks the start of commemorations to mark 50 years of UNEP. Even as we remember our achievements, we must commit to drastically scale up our action. UNEA-5 must drive the radical change to an era of action.
As delegates head into the second day, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP noted that “although this is a time of great upheaval, it is in upheaval that humanity excels. It is when humanity is faced with its gravest challenge that we must lift our heads from the daily grind and find better ways of being,” she said.
Summary of the first day of the virtual UNEA-5.1 meeting
It was a UNEA like no other: The online portion of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly opened on Monday with UNEA President Sveinung Rotevatn, Norway, noting that the wide participation proves that “we have adapted to a new way of doing things.”
UNEP Executive Director Andersen urged all participants to do even more to rise to an environmental challenge of existential proportion and commit to turning 2021 into the year humanity begins making peace with nature.
During the afternoon, UNEA-5 started its leadership dialogue with the aim of promoting an interactive and high-level discussion on the environmental dimension of sustainable development in building a more resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.
Andrea Meza Murillo, UNEA Vice-President and Minister of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, introduced the dialogue, stressing the important role of environmental ministers. She called for political will, synergies between bodies and conventions, and the mobilization of public and private funds to achieve environmental sustainability.
UNEA-5 adopts Medium-Term Strategy, programme of work and budget
On the first day of the virtual UNEA-5, Member States adopted three decisions, including on the Medium-Term Strategy for 2022-2025, the Programme of Work and the budget for 2022-2023.
UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen has said the Medium-Term Strategy “will allow UNEP to rise to the environmental challenges of our time, to deliver with greater and more meaningful impact, to Member States, and to strengthen our role as the environmental conscience of the world.
World Environment Day takes place every year on 5 June. Over the years, it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world.
Making the announcement on the margins of UNEA-5, Pakistan’s Adviser to Prime Minister and Minister of Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, joined UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen to acknowledge the urgency of preventing, halting and reversing the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.
Let’s go circular: The only approach to addressing global crises
By H.E. Stientje van Veldhoven-van der Meer, Minister for the Environment in the Netherlands
Could a circular economy aid the COVID-19 recovery?
We are in a time of crisis: hospitals are overburdened with a sustained overflow of patients in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, while many lose their jobs due to the associated economic downturn, and cope with isolation as a result of lockdown measures.
Over the coming months, we will hopefully see lockdowns and hospitalizations turn into vaccinations and recovery. Yet, even when we start to get the pandemic under control, we will be faced with the challenge of rebuilding livelihoods - against the backdrop of a climate, pollution, and biodiversity crisis that we may exacerbate, by making the wrong choices. We can take a positive approach: we have a unique opportunity to build back better and greener! To tackle climate change, to stop the current rate of loss of biodiversity, to preserve the enticing blue skies and healthy clean air; in short, to collectively build a more resilient and more sustainable society.
Happening Now: Leadership Dialogues begin at UNEA-5 with focus on pandemic recovery
On the first day of the UNEA-5, ministers and policy-makers are taking part in virtual Leadership Dialogues, to consider environmental aspects of sustainable development and how they can be used to shape a more resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.
In particular, representatives will discuss ways to ensure that environmental issues remain a top priority; sustain political will and momentum to restore nature; and define the role of UNEP in driving the process.
With a view to catalyse transformative change, the dialogues will be informed by UNEP’s, “Making Peace With Nature” report, which was released last week and offers a blueprint for moving toward circular economies and fairer societies, while also addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Ultimately, it says, the well-being of people and ecosystems will depend on our ability to halt environmental destruction.
The Leadership Dialogue will be held on 22 February at 16.00 – 19.00 and on 23 February at 11.00 – 14.00, Nairobi time (GMT+3).
Happening Now: UNEP Executive Director welcomes the creation of new alliance on circular economy
At the launch of theGlobal Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE), UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said the common driving force between the triple planetary crises -- climate change, nature and biodiversity loss and pollution and waste -- is humanity’s unsustainable modes of consumption and production.
“Circularity and sustainable consumption and production are essential to deliver on every multilateral agreement, from theSustainable Development Goals to the Paris Agreement to the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. They are essential to a sustainable recovery from the pandemic,” she said.
Created by the European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, and UNEP in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Global Alliance aims to galvanize initiatives to make our use of resources more sustainable so that we keep humanity’s footprint within planetary boundaries.
Happening Now: UN Secretary-General tells UNEA that urgency for action has never been clearer
In a video message to delegates of the Fifth UNEA, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saidthe world’s top environmental body needed to generate global will for action and a transformation of our relationship with nature.
Guterres said 2021 was a critical year to reset humanity’s relationship with nature, with vital meetings on biodiversity loss, chemical pollution,ocean health,desertification and climate disruption.
“By the climate COP in Glasgow at the latest, we need all countries to come forward with more ambitious nationally determined contributions, with 2030 targets that are consistent with carbon neutrality by 2050. By the biodiversity COP in Kunming, nations must show how they will reverse species and ecosystem loss with concrete targets and means of implementation. We must also ensure a strong post-2020 framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste,” Guterres said.
Guterres noted that UNEP’s “Making Peace with Nature” report -- published last week -- showed clearly that we need a healthy planet for sustainable development.
“To a large degree, the viability of humanity on this planet depends on your efforts. With leadership, determination and commitment to future generations, I am convinced we can provide a healthy planet for all humanity to not just survive, but to thrive,” he said.
Happening Now: Opening of UN Environment Assembly with strong call for action on planetary crises
At the start of the virtual Fifth UN Environment Assembly, the world’s top environmental body, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen called on delegates to make 2021 the year we begin to make peace with nature and tackle the existential crises facing humanity -- climate crisis, nature loss and pollution and waste.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the fifth session of UNEA is taking place in two parts with an online session today and tomorrow and a resumed session to be held in person in Nairobi in February 2022.
“We have to acknowledge that we need an all of society effort to radically change our ways if we are to make peace with the planet and therefore create the environmental conditions so that all of humanity can thrive, now and for generations to come,” Andersen told the Opening Plenary.
“That means backing a green pandemic recovery. That means joining the net-zero club and submitting stronger nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement. That means agreeing to an ambitious biodiversity framework, backed by the means of implementation. That means mobilizing the whole of government, economy and society,” she said.
Andersen asked delegates to approve UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy 2022-25, the programme of work and budget so that the organisation can work harder, faster and stronger.
Created by the European Commission, on behalf of the European Union, and UNEP in coordination with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Global Allianceaims to galvanize initiatives to make our use of resources more sustainable so that we keep humanity’s footprint within planetary boundaries.
As UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen has said: “What is crucial to remember is that a global move to circular economies is a smart economic decision as well as the key to ending the three planetary crises. In fact, such a global move could generate US$4.5 trillion in annual economic output by 2030.”
In the first session, participants discussed how the transformation of food systems is critical for nature and economies, how regenerative agriculture can connect us back to nature and the importance of tackling food waste.
Closing the forum, UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen said biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution should be addressed in unison, with cohesive cooperation required across sectors and among stakeholders.
It’s time: UN Environment Assembly starts on Monday
As countries grapple with the consequences of a worldwide pandemic, the United Nations Environment Assembly will meet virtually from 22 – 23 February, bringing together Ministers and policy-makers, scientists and civil society, and the private sector.
Leadership Dialogues, hosted virtually, will consider environmental aspects of sustainable development and look at how they can be used to shape a more resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.
There’s no time to lose: In 2020, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres warned that “Humanity is waging a war on nature”. As we destroy ecosystems, he explained, we are effectively destroying ourselves.
We consume too much and we produce too much. Our excess has contributed to creating the conditions necessary for the spread of zoonotic diseases while the way we live our lives has had a devastating impact on the world’s ecosystems, propelling climate change, destroying nature, and raising pollution levels.
This UNEA will seek consensus about an alternative way to live, informed by the just-released Making Peace with Nature report, which offers a blueprint for a sustainable world.
Spanning time zones, the Leadership Dialogue will be held on 22 February at 16.00 – 19.00 and on 23 February at 11.00 – 14.00, Nairobi time (GMT+3).
The gathering, which is being held virtually, as part of the UN Environment Assembly, is the planet’s largest youth-led environmental event. It has zeroed in on climate change, which participants described as a dire threat to the planet.
This year’s Youth Environment Assembly saw the release of UNEP’s GEO-6 for Youth – a report targeted at 15-24-year-olds, written with the intention of translating high-level scientific messages into a language that is accessible and actionable. This age group makes up one-sixth of the world’s population and is crucial in the fight against climate change.
On Saturday, the Forum will look at Nature-positive Food Systems for a Healthy Planet and Healthy People. This session will look at promoting food systems that regenerate rather than degrade our planet.
The Green Gigaton Challenge (GGC) is an ambitious and innovative global response led by Emergent and UN-REDDto mobilize public and private funds to finance a gigaton of emission reductions from forests per year by 2025. It brings together public, private and philanthropic partners to channel funds into efforts by national and subnational governments to halt deforestation.
The event will also see the Phase 1release of the Global Partnership on Marine Litter Digital Platform. The aim of the platform is to facilitate coordination of multi-stakeholder action towards the long-term elimination, through a life-cycle approach, of discharges of litter and microplastics into the oceans using AI capabilities, data mapping and layered functionalities including match-making.
Happening Today: The Value Chain Approach and what it means for sustainability
The science is clear: we need to decouple economic growth from natural resource use. This would enable us to cut greenhouse gas emissions, protect biodiversity, reduce pollution and drive development. So far so good but the problem is that not all decision-makers know how to achieve this decoupling.
Two platforms were launched: a Science-Policy-Business Forumand Youth Platform and a Chemicals and Wastes Youth Platform. Both aim to encourage dialogue between the relevant stakeholders and communities. During Thursday’s sessions, three young entrepreneurs shared their personal stories, showcasing how their companies’ new technologies are offering revolutionary new options for recycling plastic, growing food in hydroponic systems, and measuring real-time, hyper-localized air quality.
Science-Policy-Business Forum addresses e-waste and data
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This remark by Charles Ross from The Economist Intelligence Unit, summed up one of the key sentiments expressed during the first day of the Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment (UN-SPBF) 2021: data and digital transformation is key to progress in addressing the three planetary crises – climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.
During the opening session on Thursday, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen underscored the role of science in addressing the key challenges society faces. She called for a digital transformation and said digitizing science will make it more easily accessible and understandable.
Making Peace with Nature: A blueprint to urgently solve planetary emergencies
The world can transform its relationship with nature and tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises together to secure a sustainable future and prevent future pandemics, according to a new report by UNEP that offers a comprehensive blueprint for addressing our triple planetary emergency.
UNEP engages Kenyan media on coverage of UNEA in Africa
UNEP, in partnership with the Kenyan Government, this week held a media briefing with local journalists on the importance of next week’s UNEA-5 virtual meeting.
“Journalists in Africa have been a constructive asset in impactfully amplifying the work of UNEA in the region,” said UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya, noting that collective action was now needed as the science and policies already existed.
“Focusing on action is extremely important,” she said.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UNEA-5 will take a two-step approach: an online session from 22-23 February and a second session in February 2022 when delegates will meet in person to discuss substantive matters that require in-depth negotiations.
“UNEA-5 will be the first big UN international virtual meeting that is happening in 2021 and the whole world will be watching to see what UNEA does to set the precedent for other bigger meetings, including Conference of the Parties (COPs) that are coming up later in the year,” Msuya told the journalists.
Ambassador Kamau Macharia, Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also noted the significance of this UNEA meeting.
“UNEP turns 50 next year and whilst great strides have been made to safeguard and encourage the sustainable use of the environment, more still needs to be done,” he said.
Msuya welcomed Kenya’s support for UNEA and its commitment to environmental sustainability, especially its battle against plastic pollution.
By the time we get to the Kunming meeting, nations must come with more ambition and commitment to deliver on measurable targets and means of implementation, particularly finance and monitoring mechanisms.
In January this year, another step towards cleaning up the international trade of plastic waste was taken when amendments to the Basel Convention -- the most comprehensive international environmental agreement on hazardous and other wastes -- came into effect.
Ahead of next week's UNEA-5 meeting, here's a message from UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen about why this virtual meeting is so vital as the world grapples witha global pandemic and three planetary crises: the climate crisis,the biodiversity and nature crisis and the pollution and waste crisis.
The forum will host discussions on climate change, natural capital, sustainable infrastructure and building back better from the pandemic. Members will be able to create and manage their own public and private groups to promote inclusive green economy policies.
At a time when the global pandemic has curtailed our ability to meet up, virtual hubs like the Green Forum are vital to ensuring critical advocacy continues.
UNEA-5 President Sveinung Rotevatn noted that agreement on a consensual message to be delivered to next week’s virtual meeting showed the world that UNEA has found a common ground and shared purpose despite working in a virtual setting.
UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen congratulated Members on reaching consensus on three important draft decisions to be adopted at the online session of UNEA-5. She emphasized that it shows commitment and that “we are still in business even in the time of global pandemic.”
UN Science-Policy-Business Forum kicks off tomorrow; here’s how to follow it
The theme of this year’s UN Science-Policy-Business Forum (UN-SPBF) is “Integrated Solutions #ForNature” and there will be a host of events on everything from marine litter to big data from February 18-20.
Over the three days, each session will seek to identify where the greatest opportunity for the shift to sustainable consumption and production lies. Discussions will facilitate a multi-sectoral common agenda in line with UNEP’s mandate and priorities.
Happening Today: New book reflects on creation of world’s leading environmental agency
With UNEP preparing to mark its 50th anniversary in 2022, a new book reflects on how the world’s leading environmental institution came into being and looks at the vision that underpinned its creation.
At today’s event, the book’s author Maria Ivanova, Associate Professor of Global Governance and Graduate Program Director, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance, McCormack Graduate School, will journey into the past to rediscover the original vision and reflect on the global role of UNEP in an increasingly complex world where multilateralism is ever more important.
Happening Today: Protecting our seas so that they can protect us: Event on plastic pollution
If we want to redefine our relationship with nature -- as we must in order to survive -- we need to take a long hard look at how we manage economic activities around our seas. We must also address the deadly scourge of plastic pollution that is killing fish and other wildlife.
2021 marks the start of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and it is vital that we place our oceans at the heart of our efforts to redesign the way we live on this earth. We have the means: check out this story for more on technological innovations that could help tackle plastic waste, for example.
UNEP and partners have developed a Transformative Partnership Platformon agroecological approaches to accelerate this essential work and at today’s event Member States will be able to hear how agroecology has been helping communities build back better and greener.
If you’re not quite sure what agroecology is, here’s a little explainer from a food systems and biodiversity expert at UNEP: Agroecology is an ecological approach to agriculture, often described as low-external-input farming … it focuses on changing social relations, empowering farmers, adding value locally and privileging short value chains.
Discussions covered professional staff representation within UNEP, terminology and the political declaration that UNEP was mandated to prepare at its fifth session. The OECPR’s vision for the declaration included a commitment to strengthen international environmental law, and a reconciliation of the crowded landscape of multilateral environmental agreements so that diverse mandates and provisions are complementary and effective.
Consensus was reached on two draft decisions. Members agreed to forward the decisionson theMedium-Term Strategy for 2022-2025 and Programme of Work and Budget for the biennium 2022-2023; and the management of trust funds and earmarked contributions, to UNEA-5 for adoption.
As a result of some technical difficulties, discussions will resume for an additional day on Wednesday.
In Kenya, the Flipflopi sails on, bringing its plastic revolution to Lake Victoria
In 2019, the world’s first sailing boat made entirely from waste plastic and flip-flops sailed from Lamu in Kenya to Zanzibar. The flamboyant Flipflopi made global headlines but also spurred a plastic revolution along the Indian Ocean coast. And its mission continues, with a trip this year to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake, to engage governments, business leaders, conservationists and students on viable solutions for the pollution menace.
Protecting our seas from plastic pollution and other threats will be hot topics this week ahead of UNEA-5. On February 17, Kenya is co-hosting an event on ocean sustainability, looking at how oceans can help provide practical solutions to the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
Ahead of that event, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen tweeted: Kenya has demonstrated strong leadership on plastic pollution. Comprehensive legislation has been backed by efforts to inspire citizens and the private sector to drive ambitious action on marine litter & #BeatPlasticPollution.
But progress has been made, and with nine years left, we need a big push to turn this vision of a more sustainable and just future into reality. That’s where the Decade for Action comes in, galvanizing leaders and citizens everywhere to address the global challenges -from poverty to climate change- covered by the SDGs.
UNEA-5 will focus minds on the role of nature with its theme of Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
We have 10 years to transform our world. Business as usual cannot and will not be business for tomorrow if we want to achieve the Goals.
Financing the future: the role of banks in building a global circular economy
We know that our future is bright if it is circular. The old take-make-waste models cannot work any more on our depleted planet.
As UNEA-5 President, Sveinung Rotevatn, said: “A circular economy approach provides opportunities both for the economy and the environment. Global consumption of all consumable materials is expected to double by 2060 – we need to reduce that.”
This shift requires input from everyone, including financial institutions. They can ensure that the businesses they invest in make more efficient use of resources and minimize waste, pollution and carbon emissions.
Economically, it’s a no-brainer: the move to circular economies could generate US$4.5 trillion in annual economic output by 2030 while helping to achieve the SDGs, protect the health of our ecosystems and enable sustainable recovery in the wake of the pandemic.
UN Environment Assembly sets stage for green recovery
As UNEP’s Executive Director Inger Andersen said at Monday’s opening session of the Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives: “This will be a UNEA like no other ....At a time when countries are borrowing unprecedented monies from future generations to kick-start economies and overcome the devastation of this pandemic, I submit to you that there has never been a more important role for UNEA on the world stage”.
The pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis and so next week’s virtual meeting of the UN Environment Assembly will also be unprecedented. Pandemic recovery plans offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to chart a new path, giving Member States and stakeholders a chance to build a greener, more sustainable and inclusive world.
In a speech to the 153rd CPR meeting in January, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said 2021 would be the year that UNEP regroups and equips itself for the challenges ahead. She described the MTS as ambitious, urging everyone to be “MTS-ready”.
She explained the concept: “Like the marathon runners who commit themselves to the race, preparation begins much earlier, with determination, with hard work and with a clear line of sight. By the end of 2021, we will ensure complete clarity on functions, form and finance so that we can deliver the MTS in a manner that makes a real difference for people and planet.”
UNEP shines a scientific light on food systems in a post-pandemic world
At the start of the pandemic, there were fears that COVID-19 could undermine the global push for sustainable development. In a December report, COVID-19, the Environment and Food Systems, UNEP urged states to use their response to the coronavirus pandemic to build more sustainable, resilient food systems and monitor their recovery efforts against sustainable development targets.
The basic message: UNEA has an opportunity to chart a transformative path towards a sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Participants listed areas of concern for the future, including the need for UNEP to include diverse sources of knowledge, including citizen science, in its processes.
They also discussed next year’s 50th anniversary of the creation of UNEP and called for the upcoming commemorations to show the same vision and courage as the original event to secure our common future.
Highlights from the first two days of the Global Youth Environment Assembly
The second Youth Environment Assembly started on Friday, 12 February. The Assembly provides space for youth to mobilize and share their experiences, and also to organize in advance of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting next week.
Read the highlights and view the photos here: Day 1 & Day 2
Last updated at 1.13pm EAT
UNEA-5 sets the tone for a critical year: Key dates in 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we need to work together in times of peril. Multilateralism is also critical if we want to solve our triple planetary crises, which is why meetings like UNEA-5 are so important, not least in setting the tone for the months ahead.
UNEP hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies, which this year will continue their efforts to bring together nations and the environmental community to tackle the greatest challenges of our time.
Throughout 2021, as the world seeks a way out of the unprecedented chaos of the pandemic, a series of key meetings will guide policy-makers towards an inclusive and sustainable future.
Investing in ecosystems restoration, combined with a shift towards circularity and sustainable consumption and production, has the potential to address the key drivers of ecosystem disruption, biodiversity loss, resource depletion and climate change. And that could help bring about a sustainable and just post-pandemic recovery that will accelerate our efforts to achieve the SDGs.
Nothing about us, without us: Global Youth Environment Assembly begins
As a rallying cry for youth engagement with our planetary crises, it was perfect: “Nothing about us, without us,” said Yugratna Srivastava, Global Coordinator of theMajor Group of Children & Youth to UNEP.
Also speaking at the event, UNEP’s Director of Governance Affairs, Jorge Laguna-Celis, urged delegates to be strategic, be proficient, be connected and have the drive to change things #ForNature and #ForYouth.
And Lefteris Arapakis, a 2020 UNEP Young Champion of the Earth, said: “Most people don't realize that we're living the climate crisis. It's humanity that won't survive. I'm hopeful the survival instinct of humanity will help us find solutions.”
The Power of Youth: Global Youth Environment Assembly starts today
Want to hear what the next generation thinks of the challenges facing our planet today? Check out the Global Youth Environment Assembly,the official youth forum of UNEA-5, which runs from February 12-13 and February 18-20.
There will be interactive segments, regional and thematics breakouts, plenary sessions and dialogues between environment ministers and youth.
At UNEP, science has always reigned supreme. For almost 50 years, we have used the latest scientific data to help the world understand the damage humanity’s carbon- and resource-hungry development path is causing to the planet, human health and economies.
At UNEA-5, a key talking point will be how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world. It’s all about helping nature help us, but the world is still dragging its feet on funding critical interventions.
The planetary crises we face are so all-encompassing that everyone needs to be involved. UNEP recognises that it is vital to take the views of Major Groups and Stakeholders into account as early as possible in decision-making processes. They provide valuable perspectives, research and advocacy functions and foster support for UNEP’s mission.
If anything, the pandemic underscored the urgency of UNEP’s work and throughout the year UNEP staff worked hard, often behind the scenes, to address climate change, rampant pollution and mass extinction of wildlife -- the triple crises facing our planet.