Jacobs Ladder Africa

UNEA-6 Outcomes

The sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) was held at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. In many ways, it was a landmark gathering of the world’s top decision-making body on the environment.

The Assembly, which ran from 26 February to 1 March, adopted 15 resolutions aimed at addressing some of the planet’s most-pressing environmental challenges, including climate change, air pollution and desertification.

As the planet’s only universal membership forum for the environment, UNEA, which meets in two years, is the world’s highest decision-making body on the environment, with a membership of 193 states. It was created in 2012 as an outcome of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development held in Brazil. UNEA’s aim is to help restore harmony between humanity and nature, improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people. It is a platform that upholds bold decisions and innovative ideas to chart a bold plan of collective environmental action.

With a focus on strengthening environmental multilateralism to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution, this year’s Assembly negotiated resolutions on issues ranging from nature-based solutions and highly hazardous pesticides to land degradation and drought, and environmental aspects of minerals and metals.

“We’ve all felt and seen the impacts- baking heat, intense storms, vanishing nature and species, failing soils, deadly dirty air, oceans stuffed with plastic waste and much more,” Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UNEP, said in her opening statement. She reiterated that although the poor and vulnerable, who are least responsible for them are the most affected, nobody is immune.

However, a declaration was adopted, emphasizing the decline of the natural world represents a serious threat to sustainable development and that international cooperation was crucial to creating what it called ‘a better tomorrow’.

15 resolutions were adopted, targeting some of the world’s most-pressing environmental challenges. These challenges included sustainable mining of so-called energy transition minerals, which are crucial components in electric vehicles’ batteries, wind turbines and other renewable energy technology. Other resolutions urged nations to rein in pollution from chemicals and waste, combat desertification and land degradation, reduce air pollution, protect the ocean and seas, sustainably manage freshwater supplies and better protect the environment during times of conflict.

UNEP also launched three headline reports during the Assembly, providing policymakers with the science they need to make informed decisions on the environment. The Global Waste Management Outlook called for a drastic reduction of the amount of rubbish produced by humanity, if it wants the planet to remain “liveable”, the Global Resources Outlook revealed the world’s natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate and called on countries to ensure humanity lives within its means and finally, the Used Heavy-Duty Vehicles and the Environment report focused on how counties can reduce the amount of greenhouse gases and other pollutants that spew from trucks and other large vehicles.

The youth were also not left behind as young people are key in addressing climate change since they are the future. 450 youth from around the world gathered together for the Youth Environment Assembly, where they weighed in on the resolutions set to be tabled at UNEA-6. Their coming together is a testament that young people are not only victims of climate change but also valuable contributors to climate action. There is therefore a need to scale up their efforts and use their skills to accelerate climate action. Training them on green skills would give them an advantage and hence save the planet.

Lastly, there was a collective agreement to move with urgency to address the triple planetary crisis, with tangible policies that protect and restore the planet. Action and speed are key to a sustainable future for all!




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