Briefing on the Fourth Session of the UN Environment Assembly

4 Feburary 2019
14:00-16:30

 

Background

The fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) will take place from 11-15 March 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya.

UNEA-4 will feature a number of high-level events and negotiate resolutions on areas of expertise of International Geneva. The theme for this session is “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production” covers policies, financing, technologies, partnerships and multistakeholder processes, key both to solving many environmental challenges, as well as to accelerating sustainable development more generally. This recognition of the need of transformative change to support Agenda 2030, already highlighted at the 2nd and 3rd sessions of the United Nations Environment Assembly, directly underpins the choice of the overarching theme for the fourth session of the Environment Assembly by Member States in Nairobi in March 2019.

On the occasion of the visit of the President of the UN Environment Assembly, H.E. Siim KIISLER, Minister of Environment of Estonia to Geneva, a briefing in preparation of this important meeting was organized by the Geneva Environment Network at the International Environment House.

The vision of the President for the Assembly is to develop partnerships towards more sustainable and innovative societies. This vision can be summarized as three main priorities (“3 Ps”) which he will promote as the President of the Assembly: partnerships, policy integration, and people. Geneva is the ideal place for discussing these priorities. A ministerial declaration on the theme shall underscore the Assembly as the highest decision-making body of the environment.

Geneva Stakeholders Preparation to UNEA

Through the Geneva Environment Network platform, the various stakeholder working with environmental issues are regularly briefed and debriefed on major environmental negotiations, including the UN Environment Assemblies and the previous UNEP Governing Councils.

The wide participation of all stakeholders in UNEA-4 is an utmost priority for the United Nations Environment Programme and the success of UNEA-4. It is crucial for effective agenda-setting to include the voices of the world’s environmental and sustainable development advocates on the ground in high-level decision-making.

To complement the President vision for the upcoming assembly, a science serving decision makers session featured the global assessments to be released at UNEA. Switzerland, member of the UNEA Bureau, has regularly contributed to the dialogues and briefings in preparation of the former UN Environment Assembly sessions organized through the Geneva Environment Network platform, and will brought its expertise in the closing remarks.

Agenda

Welcome
Sylvie MOTARD, Europe Office Director a.i., United Nations Environment Programme

President Vision for the Assembly: Ministerial Outcome Document, Partnerships, Policy integration, and People
H.E. Siim KIISLER, Minister of Environment of Estonia, President of UNEA-4 Bureau

Practical information on the Assembly
Wondwosen ASNAKE KIBRET, Europe Office Policy and Partnerships Coordinator, United Nations Environment Programme

Science serving decision makers: the Global Environmental Assessments at UNEA-4 (GEO6, GCO, GRO, WESR with MapX)
Session moderated by Steven RAMAGE, Head of External Relations, GEO Secretariat

Global Environmental Outlook – Matthew BILLOT
Global Chemicals Outlook – Gamini MANUWEERA
Global Resources Outlook – Ben SIMMONS
World Environment Situation Room & MapX – Pascal PEDUZZI & Inga PETERSEN

Concluding remarks
Felix WERTLI, Vice President of UNEA-4 Bureau, and Head of Section Global Affairs, International Affairs Division, Federal Office for the Environment of Switzerland

 

Summary

Video

The event was live on facebook, with some minor technical problems.

Key points

UNEA4 is an opportunity for member states to bring a regional perspective to the decision-making body, to contribute to negotiations, to promote and share solutions developed in the region, to forge partnerships, to engage with the private sector and civil society.

President Vision

“My vision is to strengthen our partnership with civil society... and have a very ambitious political declaration”
H.E. Siim KIISLER, Minister of Environment of Estonia

Find the message from the President on the UN Environment Assembly Website.

 

Resolutions by Member States

  • 28 resolutions submitted for the moment (Draft resolutions as of 29 January).
  • This year’s resolutions are divided into 5 clusters with 10 co-facilitators from different regional groups:
    Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and SCP (South Africa and Finland)
    Resource efficiency, chemicals and waste (Colombia and Canada)
    Ecosystems and biodiversity management and protection (Romania and Argentina)
    Environmental Governance (Sri Lanka and Barbados)
    UNEP Programme of Work and related matters (Czech Republic and USA)

Expected outcomes

  • The Ministerial Declaration
  • Several resolutions
  • Implementation Plan on Pollution
  • Various reports: The Global Environmental Outlook, the Chemicals and Wastes Outlook, the Global Resources Outlook
  • Leadership and multi-stakeholders Dialogues
  • National statements and commitments
  • A social media campaign

Science serving decision makers: the Global Environmental Assessments at UNEA-4

Global Environmental Outlook 6 (GEO-6) see Matthew BILLOT Presentation

  • The 6th edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) focuses on 3 main concepts: energy, food and waste -transport is included in the energy concept because of the fossil fuels.
  • Energy demand will increase by 40% by 2050, 1.5-degree targets in the Paris agreement require an 80% decrease in fossil fuel use by 2050.
  • Food production needs to increase by 50% by 2050 to feed the 10 billion people on the planet.
  • Circular economy principles would have us approach a near-zero waste society by 2050.
  • There is need for integration: environmental, economic and social policies together instead of environmental policies alone.
  • Policy effectiveness assessment need to be done to know where we are headed.

Global Chemicals Outlook II (GCO-2) see Gamini MANUWEERA Presentation

  • The GCO-II’s purpose is to provide updates on GCO-I and options for implementation of actions and, to assess progress towards the 2020 goal.
  • The key findings of the GCO-II are the following:
    • Rapid production growth, especially in emerging countries
    • Chemical pollutants ubiquitous in humans and environment
    • Burden of disease is high and ecosystem services threatened
    • Benefits of action and costs of inaction are significant
    • International treaties and voluntary instruments have reduced the risks of some chemicals and waste
    • Uneven progress, various countries still lack basic management systems
  • Significant progress has been made to reach sound management goals.
  • The global goal to minimize adverse impacts of chemicals and waste will not be achieved by 2020, we need more ambitious actions worldwide.

Global Resources Outlook (GRO 2019) see Ben SIMMONS Presentation (GRO)

  • Some of the goals of the Global Resources Outlook are to provide an overview of the present state of natural resource use and information on the environmental, economic and social impacts of the current resource use trend, demonstrate a BAU trajectory for resource use up to 2060 and its implications.
  • Some of the key messages of the Global Resources Outlook (2019) are the following:
  • The use of natural resources has more than tripled and continues to grow
  • The use of natural resources and the related benefits and environmental impacts are unevenly distributed across countries
  • Inaction, rapid growth and inefficient use of natural resources will continue to create unsustainable pressures on the environment
  • The decoupling of natural resource use and environmental impacts is an essential element in the transition to a sustainable future
  • Achieving decoupling is possible and, can help repair the past environmental damage while supporting economic growth and human well-being
  • Policymakers and decision makers have tools to do the changes
  • The official press launch of the Global Resources Outlook (2019) is 14 March 2019.

Data: World Environment Situation Room and MapX see Inga PETERSEN Presentation

  • “The availability of high-quality, timely and disaggregated data is vital for evidence-based decision making and to ensure accountability for implementation of the 2030 Agenda” – António GUTERRES, UN Secretary, General
  • More and more data are available but integrating them to policies is challenging.
  • Another issue is the interpretation of this data for a better communication between actors.
  • The World Environment Situation Room aims to close the gap between data and decision-making.
  • MapX is an online geospatial platform to map and monitor natural resources and the environment using the best available data.
  • The 4 themes that have been populated for the moment are: biodiversity, climate, risk and pollution.

 

Documents

 

Links