Understanding the importance of the United Nations Environment Assembly

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Established as a kind of “world parliament on the environment,” UNEA aims to define environmental policy priorities and create international law on the issue.

Why is UNEA important?

The 2024 Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) will be attended by a record 6,000 delegates, including seven heads of state and 139 ministers and deputy ministers, as well as experts, activists and industry representatives. It is expected to be.

UNEA was established in 2012 as an outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Brazil. Since its founding, the General Assembly has ushered in a new era of multilateralism, giving environmental issues the same level of importance as global concerns such as peace, security and health.

Over the years, UNEA has approved important resolutions on topics such as combating illegal wildlife trade, environmental protection in areas of armed conflict, and sustainable urban mobility.

The 2022 Environment Parliament debate will begin negotiations on the first legally binding international instrument to eliminate plastic pollution, expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

What’s at stake in UNEA-6?

A central theme of UNEA-6 is multilateral environmental agreements and how they can help overcome the triple planetary crisis of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Despite the socio-economic uncertainties caused by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current heightened geopolitical tensions, the past two years have brought significant victories for environmental cooperation. I did.

For example, the United Nations General Assembly in 2022 recognized the universal human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, opening space for constitutional and legal reform at the national level in favor of the environment and humanity.

That same year, the historic Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was approved, containing measures to protect one million species of plants and animals at risk of extinction.

In June 2023, 193 United Nations member states signed the so-called High Seas Convention to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Last November, a long-awaited agreement on “loss and damage” financing for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate change was announced at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP28.

During its session, UNEA-6 will discuss these and other successes and how governments can take broad, unified action, including adequate funding, to implement the multilateral agreements they have signed. One day was set aside for consideration.

At the same time, UNEA-6 will focus on implementing all existing commitments, as well as new ones.

UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen at the 31st International Resources Panel meeting in Nairobi.

What are your priority topics?

Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), highlighted six priority areas for UNEA-6. Responsible mining. Mineral management, especially phosphorus. Technology that changes the climate. Funding for environmental activities. and the introduction of the Kunming-Montreal framework.

“All we have to do is come together and deliver on the global solutions we have committed to each other, so that we can all live on a healthy and prosperous planet,” Ms. Andersen said. We can secure our future.”

Negotiations before and during the event will focus on draft resolutions submitted by member states and ministerial declarations to be adopted at the close of the General Assembly. This resolution aims to identify and prioritize common challenges and possible solutions. It also defines UNEP’s priority areas of work.

UNEA-6 includes 20 themes including solar radiation regulation, mining, desertification, the circularity of the sugarcane agriculture industry, highly hazardous pesticides, improving the resilience of ecosystems and communities to drought, and regional cooperation. A resolution and two decisions will be discussed. such as air quality.

Disposable plastic bags floating on a coral reef in Bali.

How are the negotiations going?

It is expected that the resolution will be approved unanimously at the environmental general meeting. In practice, this means that all members present have the right to veto the decision. The week leading up to the conference is therefore essential for delegations to review the draft text and avoid or overcome any impasses. Negotiations often extend into the week of the meeting and may continue behind closed doors late into the night.

As the world’s premier environmental decision-making body, UNEA aims to restore harmony between humanity and nature and improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.

As part of its annual environmental inventory process to offset greenhouse gas emissions, UNEP will purchase certified carbon credits to offset travel emissions from funded participants, as well as conference environmental Several other measures will also be taken to reduce the impact on

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