Plastic revolution

UNEA-5.2, OECPR-5.2 and [email protected]

21 February – 4 March 2022 | Nairobi, Kenya

United Nations Environment Assembly – UNEA

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Member States adopted 14 resolutions, including to negotiate an international treaty to address plastic pollution and establish a science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution, while celebrating the 50th birthday of the United Nations Environment Programme.

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Plastic revolution

The resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly convened in a hybrid format under the theme, “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. UNEA-5.2 was an opportunity for Member States to share best practices for sustainability and create momentum for governments build on multilateral environmental efforts to protect and restore the natural world on which the world and its people depend.

It was followed by a Special Session, [email protected], on 3-4 March 2022, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The overall theme of the Special Session was "Strengthening UNEP for the implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives

UNEA-5.2 was preceded by the resumed fifth session of the Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR-5.2), which is UNEA’s main intersessional organ. Comprising all accredited Permanent Representatives to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Committee prepares for the meetings of UNEA and regularly reviews the implementation of its decisions.

Due to COVID-19 and related travel restrictions, the Committee’s 2021 meeting was truncated and substantive discussions were postponed. At OECPR-5.2, which took place from 21-25 February 2022, delegates addressed matters related to budget and programme performance, as well as UNEA’s contribution to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). Further, Committee members considered progress in the implementation of resolution 5/2 on the application of the principle of equitable geographical distribution within UNEP’s recruitment strategy and discussed options for the future of the Global Environment Outlook.

Throughout the week, Committee members also met to consider draft decisions and resolutions to forward to UNEA for discussion and adoption, including on plastic pollution. They were also scheduled to hear an update on the implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 73/333, which relates to strengthening the implementation of international environmental law and governance. During these discussions, members also discussed the preparations for the UNEA Special Session and recommended the adoption of a draft political declaration.

United Nations Environment Assembly

UNEA-5.2 began on Monday, 28 February 2022. The meeting was originally scheduled to take place during the last week of February 2021 in Nairobi, Kenya. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UNEA Bureau decided that UNEA-5 would follow a two-step approach. The first part of UNEA (UNEA-5.1) was conducted virtually from 22-23 February 2021 and took urgent action on procedural and administrative decisions.

The resumed session of UNEA (UNEA-5.2) was held in a hybrid format to discuss substantive matters that require in-depth negotiations, including, inter alia: the way forward on plastic pollution; nature-based solutions for supporting sustainable development; a science-policy panel on chemicals, waste and pollution; the future of the Global Environment Outlook; and biodiversity and health. The meeting also included a Leadership Dialogue with multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) on the theme Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Building back greener: International environmental protection and achieving the SDGs in the context of COVID-19.

Delegates convened through the week to discuss several draft resolutions forwarded to the Assembly by the OECPR. These draft resolutions have been broadly clustered under five groups on:

  • Marine/plastic pollution;
  • Nature-Based solutions and biodiversity;
  • Chemicals and minerals;
  • Green recovery and circular economy; and
  • Organizational and administrative matters.

UNEA was also expected to adopt a ministerial declaration. Over a two-year consultation period beginning in 2020, Member States and stakeholders have agreed on the vision of the declaration: to achieve the SDGs and rebuild a resilient and sustainable post-pandemic world, there is a fundamental need for urgent and transformative actions to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The declaration was expected to serve as UNEA’s input to the upcoming Stockholm+50 meeting to be held in Stockholm, Sweden, on 2-3 June 2022.

[email protected]: Special Session of the UN Environment Assembly

[email protected] aimed to provide a platform to reflect on how best to tackle the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. Delegates were scheduled to meet in a high-level opening ceremony, and engage in two high-level leadership dialogues, and a multistakeholder dialogue.

During the dialogues, delegates reflected on UNEP’s 50th anniversary, as well as on how to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They also addressed the findings in the stakeholder report, “The UNEP We Want,” and the UNEP Science-Policy Interface Report. Delegates were also expected to adopt a political declaration.

The Special Session was held both online and in-person, due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

View past and future events

Past event

33rd Session of the ITTC

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1st Meeting of the UNEP Open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR-1)

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UNEA-1

Past event

2nd Meeting of the UNEP OECPR

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UNEA-2

Past event

UNEA-3

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1st Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Expert Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics

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Negotiation of the Summary for Policy Makers of the 6th Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6)

Past event

4th Meeting of the OECPR and 4th Session of UNEA

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2nd Global Session UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment

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Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF)

Past event

Youth Environment Assembly (YEA)

Past event

5th Meeting of the Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives to UNEP (Online Session)

Past event

UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment (2021)

Past event

UNEA-5 (Online Session)

Past event

Inaugural Regional Session of the UNEP Science-Policy-Business Forum for Asia and the Pacific (AP-SPBF 2021)

Past event

Online Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF)

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Youth Environment Assembly 2022

Past event

UNEA-5.2, OECPR-5.2 and [email protected]

Past event

2nd UNEA Cities and Regions Summit

Past event

UNEA Flagship Side Events

Past event

Big Data for the Planet Breakfast and Ministerial Dialogue: The Next 50 Years

Past event

Ad hoc Open-ended Working Group to Prepare for the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to End Plastic Pollution

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All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For UNEA-5.2, OECPR-5.2, and [email protected], please use: Photo by IISD/ENB Kiara Worth.

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