Leaders Gather at UNEA to Tackle Climate Crisis, Pollution, and Biodiversity Loss

Leaders Gather at UNEA to Tackle Climate Crisis, Pollution, and Biodiversity Loss

Leaders Gather at UNEA to Tackle Climate Crisis, Pollution, and Biodiversity Loss

The UNEA is also known as the world’s environmental parliament.

As the world’s foremost decision-making organisation on environmental issues, UNEA comprises representatives from all 193 UN member states and typically convenes every two years. Visionaries from the business world, governments, scientific institutions, and civil society attend. 

With heatwaves, storms, and droughts wreaking havoc in 2023—the warmest year in NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a government agency) 174-year-climate record—heads of state and over 5,000 delegates and leaders gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, this Monday, for the five-day sixth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA). The purpose of this assembly was to reinforce multilateral efforts to address the global crises of climate change, pollution and waste, and the loss of nature and biodiversity. 

Focus on Stronger Multilateralism 

Inger Anderson, Executive Director of UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), a Nairobi-based, leading environmental authority, commented that the UNEA-VI will focus more on how enhanced multilateralism can assist us in achieving this. It will motivate concerted, all-encompassing, and international action that tackles the triple global problem as a single, unbreakable challenge. 

The UNEA is also known as the world’s environmental parliament. The ministers and associates of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), organised by UNEP, launched the Clean Air Flagship initiative. This was done to offer a venue for enhancing regional cooperation and private sector involvement, data-driven policy implementation, funding, research, and advocacy.  

Dennis Francis, UN General Assembly President, stated that he will give his speech on February 29 and March 1 at the start of the high-level session. 

The program included an opening plenary featuring national statements and essential dignitaries, three leadership dialogues, a multi-stakeholder dialogue, and a closing plenary meeting. Over there, the UNEA will act on draft resolutions and decisions in addition to the draft ministerial declaration. 

The government leaders intend to use the Assembly to reiterate demands for the advancement of sustainable development goals, an international framework for preserving the environment and fostering economic growth. Only 15 per cent of the targets—which must be met by 2030—are being met. 

Leila Benali, Energy Transition Minister of Morocco and President of UNEA-VI, also stated that they must find alternative and practical ways to enhance people’s right to a healthy environment, as this is essential to sustainable development. She also believes that public health improves when environmental protection is implemented. Moreover, their economies become stronger when they concentrate on long-term solutions to the climate catastrophe. 

The Assembly’s agenda will be strategies to address the sharp rise in plastic waste and fuel consumption that is contributing to the climate issue. 

Global Pacts Aim for Progress 

Over 99 per cent of plastic is composed of chemicals derived from fossil fuels. This accounts for 86 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions over the past ten years. A legally enforceable plastics treaty and a fossil fuel treaty that can address the underlying causes of the plastics pollution disaster and the climate catastrophe by gradually phasing out the production of oil, gas, and coal are both necessary in light of the pollution caused by plastics. 

The countries decided to start talks on a globally binding instrument to stop plastic pollution in 2022 when the Assembly came to a close. In September 2023, a landmark pact was signed by countries and assemblies to prevent pollution caused by chemicals and waste.  

Many researchers stated that if nothing is done, there will be a 22 per cent increase in plastic manufacturing annually between 2024 and 2050 and a 62 per cent increase in plastic pollution. Maintaining the current course will result in enough litter being produced worldwide between 2010 and 2050 to cover the entire island of Manhattan with a 3.5-kilometre-tall pile of plastic debris, which is almost ten times the height of the Empire State Building. 

But in 2040, plastic pollution may be all but eliminated thanks to a sturdy UN plastics convention that combines the appropriate nine measures for reducing plastic trash. Mismanaged garbage creation would also have decreased by 89 per cent to a more manageable 10 million metric tonnes annually. 

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