In the lead up to the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), the highest decision-making body on environmental matters in the UN system, stakeholders and governments are negotiating draft decisions and declarations to provide input for the UNEA-5 outcomes.  

The Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR), which is the main intersessional organ of UNEA, extended its two-day preparatory meeting (OECPR-5) by one day in order to finish preparing draft decisions for UNEA consideration. This Committee comprises all accredited Permanent Representatives to UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the OECPR’s online session – which concluded on 17 February 2021 – reports that, among other debates, some members objected to references to “environmental rights,” saying it is not intergovernmentally agreed language, while others said the terminology has been used by UNEP for 30 years. At the close of the meeting, the Committee forwarded decisions on UNEP’s medium-term strategy for 2022-2025, its programme of work and budget for the biennium 2022-2023, and the management of trust funds and earmarked contributions, to UNEA-5 for adoption.

In an online meeting of the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum held from 9-11 February 2021, major groups and stakeholders deliberated their priorities and inputs to UNEA. The Forum developed a joint global statement titled ‘Building Forward Better: Action is Urgently Needed.’ The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reported that participants discussed the issue of environmental rights, with stakeholders saying the draft medium-term strategy lacks references to UNEP’s commitment to protect the human right to a healthy environment. Stakeholders also cautioned that the proposed medium-term strategy for UNEP does not allow for diverse sources of knowledge, including citizen science, in UNEP’s science-policy processes, and insufficiently addresses the interface between human and planetary health and the need to leverage the COVID-19 pandemic to “build forward better.” 

The Global Youth Environment Assembly is convening online from 12-20 February. In a discussion on chemicals and wastes, participants heard that a Chemicals and Wastes Platform to be launched on 18 February will will help youth engage with UN bodies and build capacity to act on chemicals and wastes. Participants also were briefed on ways for youth to get involved with nature loss, food security, and health issues, including through the Food Systems Summit, UNEP Generation Restoration, and upcoming UN conferences of the parties on climate change and biodiversity. 

The UN Science-Policy-Business Forum on the Environment will take place from 18-20 February, immediately prior to the two-day online session of UNEA-5

IISD, through its Earth Negotiations Bulletin Meeting Coverage, will provide daily web coverage and a summary and analysis report from UNEA-5.