Mail track

“On track to curing the plastic epidemic” | Features World

The fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) concluded yesterday in Nairobi with 14 resolutions aimed at strengthening action for nature to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The assembly is made up of the 193 member states of the UN and meets every two years to advance global environmental governance.

Environment ministers around the world have agreed to create an intergovernmental negotiating committee to forge a legally binding international agreement to end plastic pollution. Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), said it was the most important multilateral environmental agreement since the Paris agreement.

“In the context of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best,” said Espen Barth Eide, UNEA-5 Chair and Norwegian Minister for Climate and Environment. . “Plastic pollution has become an epidemic. With today’s resolution, we are officially on the way to finding a cure.

Amina J Mohammed, UN Under-Secretary-General, added: “Today, no area of ​​the planet is untouched by plastic pollution, from deep-sea sediment to Mount Everest. The planet deserves a multilateral solution that speaks from source to sea. A legally binding global agreement on plastic pollution will be a truly welcome first step.

In addition to ending plastic pollution, a second key resolution supports the creation of a comprehensive and ambitious science policy panel on the sound management of chemicals and waste and pollution prevention. The ministerial statement acknowledges humanity’s failure to date to manage chemicals and waste, a threat further compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the widespread use of single-use plastics and products disinfectant chemicals.

Ecosystem restoration

In the spirit of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a third key resolution approved by the assembly focuses on nature-based solutions: actions to protect, conserve, restore, use and sustainably manage ecosystems . The resolution calls on UNEP to support the implementation of such solutions, which protect the rights of communities and indigenous peoples.

Andersen said, “It is important to have a universally accepted definition of nature-based solutions. When countries and companies claim their actions support nature-based solutions, we can now begin to assess whether this is true and what it entails. This is especially true given the report just released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the need to scale up adaptation, for which nature-based solutions will be crucial.

Three resolutions give priority to the restoration of ecosystems, the protection of biodiversity, the efficiency of resources, consumption and production patterns, the mitigation and adaptation to climate change, the creation of jobs and poverty reduction

A resolution on minerals and metals calls for the development of proposals to improve their environmental sustainability throughout their life cycle.

A resolution on sustainable lake management calls on member states to protect, conserve and restore, as well as sustainably use lakes, while integrating lakes into national and regional development plans.

A resolution on sustainable and resilient infrastructure encourages Member States to integrate environmental considerations into all their infrastructure plans.

A final ministerial declaration recognized the risk of future pandemics and other health risks if humanity did not review its patterns of interaction with nature by adopting a holistic approach such as One Health.

In this context, a resolution on animal welfare calls on Member States to protect animals, protect their habitats and meet their welfare requirements.

Another resolution on biodiversity and health calls on Member States to reduce the health risks associated with the trade in wild animals captured for food, captive breeding, medicine and pets, through health regulations and controls.

The ministerial declaration stressed the urgent need to halt the global decline in biodiversity and the fragmentation of habitats, unprecedented in human history and driven by changes in land and sea use, exploitation of nature, unsustainable consumption and production patterns, climate change, invasive alien species. and pollution of oceans and fresh water, air and soil.

In this context, the assembly adopted a resolution to accelerate actions to significantly reduce nitrogen waste from all sources, particularly through agricultural practices, and save $100 billion per year.

Post-Covid recovery

After Covid-19-related investments to date have largely failed to advance environmental goals, environment ministers around the world have pledged to promote such an inclusive and sustainable recovery, a green transition and fair, integrating biodiversity, climate change and pollution concerns into all policies and tools. .

As a result, the assembly adopted a “resolution on the environmental dimension of a sustainable, resilient and inclusive post-Covid-19 recovery” to reinforce measures aimed at achieving a sustainable, resilient and inclusive global recovery.

Additional assembly resolutions and decisions address the date and location of UNEA-6, the future of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO), and equitable geographic representation and balance within the UNEP Secretariat.

The three-day in-person and online meeting of UNEA-5.2 follows an online session of UNEA-5 last year. It brought together approximately 3,000 in-person and 1,500 online participants from 175 UN member states, including 79 ministers and 17 senior officials.

The assembly will be followed by “[email protected]”, a special two-day session of the assembly marking UNEP’s 50th anniversary, where member states are expected to address how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world, as well as to approve a draft political declaration.

—unep.org