Highlights and images for 23 February 2021

The online portion of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) concluded on Tuesday. UNEA-5 will resume as an in-person event in February 2022, in Nairobi, Kenya.

In the morning, a high-level leadership dialogue took place convening Ministers and other senior government representatives. They outlined their respective country’s contributions to the environmental dimension of sustainable development to build a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world, and also communicated their vision for united work under UNEP.

Summarizing the main points from the dialogue, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya noted that:

  • Nature's health and human health are inextricably linked;
  • The nature crisis is interlinked with the climate and pollution crises;
  • The pandemic is both a threat and an opportunity;
  • Green recovery should put us on a path towards a low-carbon, sustainable world;
  • Green recovery must address the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable;
  • UNEP has a crucial role to play in environmental governance; and
  • Multilateralism has never been more important since the environmental crisis knows no boundaries.

At noon, during a press conference, UNEP launched its Medium-Term Strategy (MTS), adopted at UNEA-5. The MTS outlines a roadmap for UNEP to strengthen the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development during the period 2022‒2025. The three environmental crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution are at the heart of the MTS.

In the afternoon, in plenary, participants heard interventions from representatives of the Global Major Group and Stakeholders Forum, the UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment, and the Youth Environment Assembly.

During closing plenary, Member States also:

  • endorsed a consensual statement entitled “Looking ahead to the resumed UNEA in 2022 – Message from online UNEA-5,” including key messages from the meeting, prepared by President Rotevatn;
  • launched the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of UNEP’s creation by the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972; and
  • adopted the provisional meeting’s report.

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, marked the kick-off of the UNEP 50th anniversary commemoration, stressing it provides an opportunity for both celebration and reflection. He urged for action to address the environmental crisis and underscored the importance of UNEP’s global environmental mandate.

In her closing remarks, UNEP Executive Director Andersen applauded the success of the first virtual UNEA session and saluted Member States for recognizing that "we can no longer wait to make peace with nature."

UNEA-5 President Rotevatn thanked everyone for their work and reiterated that global problems require global solutions. He adjourned the meeting at 6:49 pm EAT (GMT+3).

Sonam P. Wangdi, Secretary of the National Environment Commission and Permanent Representative to UNEP, Bhutan

Roberto Cingolani, Minister of the Environment, Italy


Non-state coalitions