The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) has reshaped the global environmental agenda since its inaugural summit in 2014, experts have said.
The experts, who spoke to Xinhua at the end of the fourth session of the UNEA in Nairobi on Friday, said its landmark resolutions have catalyzed actions required to transition to a greener and more sustainable future. Francis Kigumba, technical adviser on environment and wastage at Kenya’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said the UNEA has provided a platform to articulate threats to ecosystems and livelihoods that includes climate change, pollution and chemical waste. He said the environment assembly has helped make it clear that climate change is problem facing both the developed countries and the developing ones. “The assembly has helped upscale research that would provide solution to chemical waste causing harm to natural habitats,” Kigumba said. Many people are now spraying their crops using the recommended chemicals, thanks to the decisions adopted at the environment assembly, he said.
The first and second sessions of the UNEA adopted resolutions on illegal trade in wildlife, air quality, environmental rule of law, financing the green economy and sustainable development goals (SDGs). “The world today is committed to a pollution-free planet at the close of the assembly, with resolutions and pledges promising to improve the lives of billions across the globe by cleaning up our air, land and water,” said Pierluigi Bozzi, vice president of Madagascar-based Athénée Saint Joseph Antsirabe. The UNEA has provided clarity on major environmental issues that have a bearing on economy, human health and global security, Bozzi said. He said the UNEA has stimulated conversations on how to achieve ecological renewal amid industrial growth.
Mithika Mwenda, executive director of Nairobi-based Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance, said the UNEA should prioritize speedy implementation of key resolutions in order to remain relevant. “There is need for a policy direction to change the operations from action to less talk,” Mwenda said, noting that governments are not responding enough. “If every promise made in and around the summit is met, more people will breathe clean air, the world’s coastlines will be clean and innovative research programs aimed at combating pollution will be availed to populations if governments become serious,” said Mwenda. He noted that programs such as the Beat Pollution and Clean Seas campaign are yet to be taken seriously by countries despite the commitments made. During the just-concluded UNEA, delegates adopted resolutions that are expected to inject vitality into the global green agenda.
The delegates, including ministers, industry leaders and scientists, agreed to address environmental challenges through advancing innovative solutions and to move toward sustainable and resilient societies through sustainable consumption and production patterns. They also agreed to develop programs on poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production, and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development. The delegates further agreed to improve national resource management strategies with integrated full-lifecycle approaches and analyses to achieve resource-efficient and low-carbon economies and promote innovation and knowledge-sharing in chemicals and waste management to achieve safer and less-toxic material flows in order to protect human health and the environment.