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Feb 27, 2024

World Environment Assembly begins in Nairobi

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FA News Desk
View of the room during UNEO-6 ongoing meet. IISD Image
View of the room during UNEO-6 ongoing meet. IISD Image

The sixth UN Environment Assembly opened in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday with a clear call for stronger global action to address the “triple planetary crisis” of climate change, nature loss and pollution.

With an unprecedented attendance of over 5,000 delegates from 193 Member States countries, the first day of the UNEA-6 which runs through Friday evoked a different mood than past ones, determined to overcome global strife and negotiate resolutions to safeguard the planet is palpably present.

The UNEA created in 2012 is the world’s highest decision-making body on the environment and its membership includes all 193 UN Member States. The Assembly meets every two years to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law. Decisions and resolutions taken there also define the work of UNEP, which is based in Nairobi.

The world’s highest environmental decision-making body, will consider proposals for “Effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

Addressing the opening plenary, UNEA-6 President and Morocco’s Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development Ms. Leila Benali said “We are living in a time of turmoil. Our response must demonstrate that multilateral diplomacy can deliver.”  

UNEA-6 President Ms. Leila Benali of Morocco (Left) and Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP at the UNEP-6 Meet in Kenya of Nairobi. IISD Image

This meeting should be focused on the major conflicts happening around the world; the historic number of general elections that will take place in countries possibly leading to a stronger resurgence of populist movements; and an opportunity to restore trust in multilateralism and humanity, UNEA-6 President Leila Benali stated.

In her inaugural speech, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Ms. Inger Andersen said “We’ve all felt and seen the impacts – baking heat, intense storms, vanishing nature and species, failing soils, deadly dirty air, oceans stuffed with plastic waste and much more.”

“the voices of the younger, civil society, Indigenous People, women, business, and other generations are also represented at this meeting although these impacts fall hardest upon the poor and vulnerable, who are least responsible for them, nobody is immune,” said Ms. Andersen.

This year, focus will be on negotiating resolutions on issues ranging from nature-based solutions and highly hazardous pesticides to land degradation and drought. The changing environmental aspects of minerals and metals will also be up for intense discussion.

At UNEA-6, countries will consider some 19 resolutions, part of a broader push to spur more ambitious multilateral environmental action. 

The resolutions cover issues such as solar radiation modification; effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions towards climate justice; sound management of chemicals and waste, and sand and dust storms.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that ravaged the world, there was an anxiousness to declare the pandemic over and hasten to a return to normalcy.

With the cultural opening of the meeting by the Kenyan Boys’ Choir, music echoed in the halls and around the grounds, followed by jubilant speeches and opening statements by delegations.

Global cooperation

Meanwhile, UN Environment Assembly in Kenya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is calling for strengthened global cooperation in addressing climate-induced migration. It is estimated that up to 216 million people could become internal climate migrants by 2050 if specific climate action is not taken.

With concrete, collective and timely actions, this number could be reduced by 80 percent. In 2022 alone, nearly 32 million new internal displacements were due to climate-related hazards, underscoring the mounting need to address this issue.

No region in the world is immune to the negative impacts of climate change, felt either directly or indirectly. Less developed countries, which have contributed the least to its cause, are even more impacted. 

Also, IOM and Panasonic Holdings Corporation have signed a Global Framework Agreement aimed at strengthening the rights of migrant workers in supply chains. 

The agreement is critical as the most recent Global Estimates of Modern Slavery Report disclosed that the Asia-Pacific region is home to the highest number of victims of forced labour globally, with 15 million out of 28 million

Since 2018, with IOM support, Panasonic Group Companies in Malaysia have formulated policies and standard operating procedures for the ethical recruitment and employment of international migrant workers.

 (With reports based on UN News, IISD and IOM)