Highlights and images for 11 February 2021



Image courtesy of UNEP

The third and final day of GMGSF opened with a consultation on the main messages from Major Groups and Stakeholders (MGS) to the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA). Co-facilitators Khawla al Muhannadi, Environment Friends Society, Aisha Karanja, Back to Basics, and Patrizia Heidegger, European Environmental Bureau, invited input on the fourth draft of the final Statement to UNEA-5. They reviewed the process of developing the document, explaining that the draft included most of the inputs from the facilitators of the GMGSF consultations on February 9 and 10, as well as revisions resulting from the previous day's thematic breakout groups.

Titled “Building Forward Better,” the Joint Global Statement from Major Groups and Other Stakeholders for consideration by UNEA-5 is divided into three sections: a Preamble; Main Messages for UNEA 5.1; and From UNEA 5.1 to UNEA 5.2 - Stepping Up the Momentum.

The Preamble makes the case that the time to act at the global level is now. It characterizes the COVID-19 pandemic as a "wake-up call" to accelerate global environmental decision-making and seek transformative change.

The section on Main Messages for UNEA 5.1 provides detailed recommendations on UNEP’s Medium Term Strategy 2022-2025 and related Programme of Work and Budget.  It also address planned commemorations of Stockholm+50 and UNEP@50 in 2022. A final subsection addresses follow-up to UN General Assembly Resolution 73/333, adopted in 2019, on strengthening implementation of international environmental law.

The third section discusses opportunities to “build forward better” from the COVID-19 pandemic through enhanced synergies with the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. There are calls to:

  • launch negotiations on a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution;
  • address the environmental dimensions of armed conflicts and military activities;
  • adopt an ambitious post-2020 framework on biodiversity;
  • adopt a global legal mechanism to phase out highly hazardous pesticides by 2030;
  • adopt a globally-agreed SDG 14 framework at the 2022 UN Oceans Conference; and
  • push for transformational and systemic change to the food system at the UN Food Systems Summit scheduled for October 2021.

During the closing session facilitated by Mohammed Aly Abdelraouf, Chair, Major Groups Facilitating Committee, MGS representatives made final statements. They reiterated, among other issues, the need to:

  • convey an inclusive and balanced message to UNEA;
  • highlight the contribution of the private sector to food systems and a circular economy;
  • pursue a One Health-One Welfare approach linking human, animal and environmental health for post COVID-19 recovery;
  • safeguard UNEP’s scientific integrity from undue influence by corporate interests;
  • ensure an inclusive and just transition through a focus on rights holders, including female food producers, young people, indigenous communities and environmental defenders; and
  • address the impacts of chemicals and pesticides in food systems.

Ingrid Coetzee, Local Authorities Major Group

Bert De Wel, Workers and Unions Major Group

Carmen Capriles, Women's Major Group

Regional participants expressed positive views on the GMGSF outcome document. Individual statements were made urging all to move from theory to practical solutions, calling for coordinated top-down and bottom-up work, stressing the need for common measures and data across sectors and groups to drive accountability, and urging reinsertion of language against ecocide and biocide into the MGS Statement.

In his closing statement, Alexander Juras, Chief, UNEP Civil Society Unit, joined staff in thanking all organizers and participants for the success of the Forum and the powerful Statement produced, despite the limitations of the online format. He urged the MGS to activate the thematic clusters of UNEA 3 and consider adding more in light of COVID-19.

Closing the session, Aly encouraged MGS to participate in a dialogue with the UNEA President on February 16, as well as an upcoming dialogue with UNEP’s Executive Director on March 3, 2021.  He then declared the meeting closed at 17:59 East African Time.

IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) Meeting Coverage, will produce a summary report from the meeting on Sunday, 14 February 2021.

Event organised by


Non-state coalitions
Local Authorities