NAIROBI: World Leaders have called for greater and more inclusive efforts towards tackling environmental challenges warning that the world risks new pandemics if there is no change in how nature is safeguarded.
This was the take of Ministers of Environment and other leaders from more than 150 nations after a two-day online meeting of the Fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5).
Making his presentation to the Assembly, Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta noted that the increasingly adverse weather and climatic occurrences across the world is a warning that nations need to attend to the three planetary crises that threaten the country’s collective future.
He stated that the three planetary crisis include the climate crisis, the biodiversity and nature crisis, and the pollution and waste crisis.
“It is increasingly evident that environmental crises are part of the journey ahead. Wildfires, hurricanes, high-temperature records, unprecedented winter chills, plagues of locusts, floods and droughts, have become so commonplace that they do not always make the headlines,” Uhuru said.
The UNEA-5 President
The President of UNEA-5, Sveinung Rotevatn also echoed this warning saying that collaboration would go the way for countries to address climate change, protect biodiversity and reduce pollution.
Rotevatn who is Norway’s Minister for Climate and Environment said, “Everyone gathered at the Environment Assembly today are deeply concerned about how the pandemic causes new and serious health, socio-economic and environmental challenges, and exacerbates existing ones, all over the world.”
UN Environment Assembly
The UN Environment Assembly meets biennially to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law.
The decisions and resolutions taken by the Member States at the Assembly also define the work of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
The 2021 UNEA was virtually attended by thousands of online participants, including more than 1,500 delegates from 153 UN Member States and over 60 Ministers of the Environment.
The Assembly was broadcast live and kicked off with the commemoration of UNEP’s 50th anniversary while several leadership dialogues were held where the Member States addressed how to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.
The UNEP New Strategy
The Assembly also agreed to a new Medium-Term Strategy, Programme of Work and budget for UNEP.
The new Strategy will take UNEP from 2022-2025 and the vision is for UNEP’s role in delivering the promises of the 2030 Agenda.
The UNEP‘s Executive Director, Ms Inger Andersen explained that the strategy would go a long way in transforming how UNEP operates and engages with the Member States, UN agencies, the private sector, civil society and youth groups.
“This strategy is about providing science and know-how to governments. The strategy is also about collective, whole-of-society action – moving us outside ministries of the environment to drive action.”
At an event commemorating UNEP’s upcoming 50th anniversary in 2022, Ms Andersen acknowledged the importance of the moment to reflect on the past and envision the future.
“Indeed, the strides taken so far towards safeguarding the environment are a testament to UNEP’s work,” President Kenyatta noted. “UNEP has had a lasting impact on how we care for the environment, nature and our livelihoods.”