World pledges to protect polluted, degraded planet as it adopts blueprint for more sustainable future
More than 4,700 delegates, including environment ministers, scientists, academics, business leaders and civil society representatives, met in Nairobi for the UN Environment Assembly, the world’s top environmental body whose decisions will set the global agenda, notably ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September.
After five days of talks at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, ministers from more than 170 United Nations Member States delivered a bold blueprint for change, saying the world needed to speed up moves towards a new model of development in order to respect the vision laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
Noting that they were deeply concerned by mounting evidence that the planet is increasingly polluted, rapidly warming and dangerously depleted, the ministers pledged to address environmental challenges through advancing innovative solutions and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns. “We reaffirm that 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 are the overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for, sustainable development,” the ministers said in a final declaration.
As well as pledging to promote sustainable food systems by encouraging resilient agricultural practices, tackle poverty through sustainable management of natural resources, and promote the use and sharing of environmental data, ministers said they would significantly reduce single-use plastic products. […]To address critical knowledge gaps, ministers promised to work towards producing comparable international environmental data while improving national monitoring systems and technologies. They also expressed support for UN Environment’s efforts to develop a global environmental data strategy by 2025.
“The world is at a crossroads but today we have chosen the way forward,” said Siim Kiisler, President of the Fourth UN Environment Assembly and Estonia’s environment minister. “We have decided to do things differently. From reducing our dependence on single-use plastics to placing sustainability at the heart of all future development, we will transform the way we live. We have the innovative solutions we need. Now we must adopt the policies that allow us to implement them.”
At the close of the Assembly, delegates adopted a series of non-binding resolutions, covering the logistics of shifting to a business-unusual model of development. These included a recognition that a more circular global economy, in which goods can be reused or repurposed and kept in circulation for as long as possible, can significantly contribute to sustainable consumption and production. […] Resolutions also addressed using incentives, including financial measures, to promote sustainable consumption while encouraging Member States to end incentives for unsustainable consumption and production where appropriate.
“Our planet has reached its limits and we need to act now. We are delighted that the world has responded here in Nairobi with firm commitments to build a future where sustainability will be the overarching objective in everything we do,” said UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “If countries deliver on all that was agreed here and implement the resolutions, we could take a big step towards a new world order where we no longer grow at the expense of nature but instead see people and planet thrive together.”
A key focus of the meeting was the need to protect oceans and fragile ecosystems. Ministers adopted a number of resolutions on marine plastic litter and microplastics. […]The need to act swiftly to tackle existential environmental challenges was underscored by the publication of a series of comprehensive reports during the Assembly.
Among them, the sixth Global Environmental Outlook, seen as the most comprehensive and rigorous assessment on the state of the planet, […] produced by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries. The report said the world has the science, technology and finance it needs to move towards a more sustainable development path, but politicians, business people and the public must to back change.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who attended the summit on Thursday, said action on unsustainable resource use was no longer a choice, but a necessity. “As Member States have stated during vibrant debates, alongside civil society, businesses, the science community and other stakeholders here in Nairobi, it is yet possible to increase our well-being, and at the same time maintain economic growth through a clever mix of climate mitigation, resource efficiency and biodiversity protection policies,” she said.
[This article original appeared on unenvironment.org]