Dear friends, dear Executive Director,
I am honoured to be invited to talk about UNEA5.2 that took place earlier this month. It indeed became a historic session! In Nairobi, the global community really came together for our environment, focussing on actions for nature.
No less than 14 substantial resolutions and two ministerial declarations were adopted – spanning the three planetary crises of: climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
As outgoing President, we commend the UNEP secretariat, Member States, and the host Kenya for their spirit of cooperation to conduct a successful hybrid meeting under pandemic terms.
I whole heartedly agree with the Secretary-General who called the decision to negotiate a global and legally binding plastics pollution agreement: ‘the most important environmental deal since the Paris Agreement’. As the gavel fell on this decision, it was an emotional moment for many. We realised that we had empowered ourselves to stop the rising threat of plastic pollution. And we had done so through transparent, and open-ended collaboration with Member States, major groups, and stakeholders in civil society. This was step-by-step persistent work over a number of years- trusting science all the way.
We also recalled our commitment of leaving no one behind. I am proud that the interests of 20 million waste pickers were recognised in the decision. The importance of a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment for the enjoyment of human rights was recognised for the first time in both the UNEA ministerial declaration, and the political declaration from UNEP@50 special session. This is significant to address the complex challenges we are facing.
We also decided to work towards establishing a science-policy panel on chemicals, waste, and pollution, which bodes well towards greater awareness of pollution as the third planetary crisis. The Panel will be a common platform for sharing knowledge and strategies.
UNEA5 also saw a breakthrough in the UN on our shared understanding of nature-based solutions. This prepares the ground for nature to become a bigger part of tackling environmental and other challenges. We can, and must, work with nature’s own solutions.
The ambitions for environmental improvement were also agreed and presented in a holistic way in the UNEA5 ministerial declaration. For the first time, the Ministerial declaration was able to reflect core results from the assembly.
Let me also acknowledge the work that went into agreeing the political declaration from the special session to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of UNEP. The process was lengthy and difficult. But our mutual understanding has grown and will benefit our work going forward.
I would also like to congratulate Morocco on their UNEA6 Presidency. Many important processes will have to be advanced, and we must build on the strong partnerships that member countries have developed.
In June, we shall all join forces again at Stockholm+50 to raise ambition across the environmental spectrum, and further promote SDG implementation towards 2030. I think we all realise that we are in the middle of a long haul- and must strengthen our efforts. But we should be encouraged that we were able to jointly Act for Nature.