UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT ASSEMBLY 3 REPORT 2017
Dates for Meetings held in Preparation and during UNEA
27th–28th November–Major Groups and Stakeholders
29th November–1st December–Open-ended Committe of Permanent Representatives (OCPR)
30th November-Faith Based Organizations
2nd–3rd December–Science Forum
4th–6th December–UN Assembly High Level segment
The third session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) took place in Nairobi from 4 – 6th December 2017. It was opened by Mr Edgar Gutierrez Espeleta, President of the Environment Assembly and had its theme as “Towards a pollution free planet.” The deliberations resulted in 11 adopted resolutions. Participants included Civil Society, Politicians, Private sector, Scientists among others. During discussions it was agreed that pollution is linked to loss of diversity, climate change and ecosystem degradation. There were urgent calls during presentations for action to be taken to change the trend for a better future. It was also noted that there is a strong link between environment and health.
The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is a result of the call made by world leaders at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June 2012, to strengthen and upgrade UNEP as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and by establishing universal membership in its Governing Council.
The first UNEA meeting took place in Nairobi in June 2014 under the theme “Towards a Life of Dignity for All ”. The second UNEA took place in May 2016 under the theme, “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the Post2015 Development Agenda.” By the end of UNEA 2 member states adopted 25 resolutions. UNEA-2 was one of the first major global conferences taking place since the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The 2030 Agenda is an action plan for people, planet and prosperity and aims to achieve 17 goals, dubbed SDGs (Sustainable Developments goals) with further 126 targets within 15 years.
It was reported by the Excutive Director that progress had been made in the implementation of some of the resolutions adopted during UNEA 2.
During the meeting issues of air pollution, land and soil pollution, marine pollution, fresh water pollution, chemicals and waste, milterism, noise and other pollution were extensively discussed, with a view to finding solutions. The Private sector show cased some of their environment friedly innovations. Most of which were still in the early stages of development.
Civil Society meeting
The Civil Society held a two day meeting and discussed both in plenary and groups, issues of pollution. In their final presentation Civil Society reported that 70% of projects were implemented by them.
Faith Based Organizations Group meeting
A consultative meeting was held with faith based groups with the aim of strengthening the role of faith based organizations in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Each organization made a presentation to introduce it’s organization (see our presentation attached). From the presentations it emerged that FBOs were already doing a lot in areas of promoting positive environmental practices. Discussions then centred around strengthening partnerships with faith based organizations, encouraging faith based investments and sharing knowledge and scientific findings. With a vision of “a world where all creations live in balance”.
It was noted that FBOs are never invited to scientific meetings. It emerged that there is need to respect traditional knowledge & cultural diversity and therefore support messages of faith with scientific knowledge.
When asked ‘What FBOs can offer to SDGs implementation?’ It was agreed that values should be at the core of the 2030 agenda. However each FBO was asked to give a short write up on this.
Contribution from the Brahma Kumaris team
The FBOs being religious groups operate within the teachings of their doctrine, guided by their religious books. Their teachings are never interrogated and the followers belief and practice what is taught. The teachings promote lifestyles informed by faith.
While different cultures may place emphasis on certain values, the FBOs promote virtues. Values and virtues together can be used to promote a sustainable lifestyle. To address issues to do with environmental degradation, we have to look at what the society values are. The FBOs will have a better understanding since they are part of the society. To turn the tide, they only need to use some practical examples, such as ‘why is our land less productive? Using this approach the community will start to find solutions to their problems and the available scientific evidence can be used to support their actions.
Through FBOs a wider group can be reached. Beliefs, culture and religion cannot be challenged but can act as a knowledge base upon which to achieve the desired results. Once it is understood that environment supports our survival and existence and from it we draw our livelihood, cooperation will be realized. Most cultures are entwined with environment and therefore it may not take time to get the message a cross.
Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment
During the forum it was noted that what was good for the planet was good for business. Leading scientists and businessmen shared how they were contributing towards a sustainable environment. Some of them show cased their technology in the booths which included solar systems, clean water sources, clean cook stoves. The Astronomists demonstrated that there was only one planet that sustained life, and that was earth. It was noted that this is an opportunity to interface science-policy and business. Policy makers should find a way to communicate to businesses. The fourth UNEA will be held from 11-15 March 2019.