The Ministerial Segment opened with a dance and choir performance on-site at Suwon City, Republic of Korea (ROK). Han Jeoung-ae, Minister of Environment, ROK, warmly welcomed a total of more than 400 delegates and participants, both on-site and online.
She noted that, while each country in the region has a different level of economic development and experiences vary regarding the severity of climate impacts, countries can create tailored, complementary action plans. She called on the Asia-Pacific region to demonstrate the “power of solidarity” to overcome the climate crisis.
Sveinung Rotevatn (Norway), President, fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), expressed hope that countries’ support for a draft resolution creating an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) on marine litter and plastic pollution will become a reality at the resumed fifth session of UNEA (UNEA-5.2) in February 2022.
Many high-level participants urgently called for people to work with, rather than against, nature, as the world struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while facing climate and ecological crises.
Ban Ki-moon, Chair, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), and former UN Secretary-General, urged countries to raise their level of ambition and to enact climate change action as binding laws, noting so far only 14 countries have done so—including, most recently, ROK.
In a video message, Moon Jae-in, President, ROK, said COVID-19 has awakened the world to the need to galvanize international cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs).
Besides climate action, ministers and other speakers highlighted, as key concerns, the need to counter air pollution, ensure healthy oceans, and take action for ecosystem restoration.
Ministers engaged in a Leadership Dialogue on Strengthening Nature Actions to Achieve the SDGs, on the four topics of focus this week: nature for poverty eradication, jobs, and economic prosperity; nature for human and ecosystem health; nature for climate; and nature for sustainable food systems. In country statements, many highlighted their national actions toward these aims.
Later in the day, ministers took part in a Multistakeholder Dialogue on the 50th anniversary of the UN Environment Programme ([email protected]). AnnaMaria Oltorp, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), noted the world today has the largest youth population in history, and that 90% of the global youth population are in low-income countries. She called for an intergenerational approach to addressing the well-being of people and planet.
Sanjaasürengiin Oyun, Director of External Affairs, Green Climate Fund, reported the GCF’s portfolio of projects in the Asia Pacific region currently stands at USD 3.4 billion and is worth USD 12 billion when co-financing is included.
Towards the end of the day, officials adjourned to prepare the report of the meeting. They then reconvened to adopt the Chair’s summary of the 6 October Senior Officials Meeting (UNEP/APEnvForum (4)/6). In view of the hybrid nature of the meeting, the Chair’s summary of the Ministerial Segment was circulated to governments for review and comments within the next 24 hours, after which it will be finalized.
The Chair’s summary notes countries’ support for several draft resolutions to be put forward at UNEA-5.2 on:
- sustainable lake management, covering protection of water quality and fisheries;
- extension of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP);
- sustainable nitrogen management to manage the impacts from agriculture, on water, air pollution, and human health; and
- establishment of an INC on marine plastic litter.
Han noted the Forum had agreed on the need for collective action to restore nature and conserve ecosystems, and expressed confidence the wisdom of delegates will provide guidance to meet the challenges ahead. She closed the meeting at 5.42 pm KST.
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