The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), the highest decision-making body on environmental matters in the UN system, completed the virtual part of its fifth session. Governments adopted three procedural decisions and held a leaders’ dialogue. UNEA-5 will resume with an in-person session in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 2022.The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports that the UNEA-5 high-level dialogue highlighted leaders’ vision for working together under UNEP and the environmental dimensions of building a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.

Since environmental crisis knows no boundaries, leaders said multilateralism has never been more important.

Among the key points raised in the dialogue:

  • nature’s health and human health are inextricably linked;
  • the nature crisis is interlinked with the climate and pollution crises;
  • 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.

The Assembly endorsed the Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) for 2022-2025 for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and programme of work (PoW) and budget for the biennium 2022-2023. The MTS will keep UNEP “squarely focused on climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution” for the coming four years.

Agreement was reached to establish trust funds for the revolving fund activities of the Bamako Convention, the Faith for Earth Coalition, and the UNEP Financial Services Initiative. It also extends the trust funds for the Adaptation Fund Board, the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutants, UNEP’s Implementation of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation, and trust funds in support of regional seas programmes, conventions, protocols, and special funds.

The Assembly decided that its fifth session will resume for an in-person segment at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, from 28 February to 4 March 2022. The meeting will be preceded by the resumed part of the fifth OECPR meeting.

The resumed UNEA-5 will consist of plenary meetings, a sessional Committee of the Whole, and a high-level segment, including leadership dialogues and a multi-stakeholder dialogue. It will include the adoption of a political declaration on “strengthening the implementation of international environmental law and international environmental governance,” as decided through negotiations on a potential global pact for the environment that concluded in 2019.

The resumed UNEA-5 also will include a two-day special session commemorating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of UNEP. [IISD Meeting Coverage