Acting Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Joyce Msuya

Fourth UN Environment Assembly opens in Nairobi

Over 4,700 delegates including Heads of states, ministers, business leaders, senior UN officials and civil society representatives have gathered in Nairobi to attend the fourth UN Environment Assembly which runs from today March 11 to 15.

The Nairobi Meeting is running under the theme “Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production”. The meeting is the biggest gathering in the Assembly’s short history, with attendance almost doubles the last event in December 2017.

Among the key issues to be discussed during the meeting is how to protect marine environment from plastic pollution, reduce food waste, and advance technological innovation that combats climate change, and reduces resource use and biodiversity loss.

Commenting on the Assembly, UN Environment’s Acting Executive Director, Joyce Msuya, appealed to UN Environment member states to step up and start delivering real change if the World Environment is to be protected from the emerging social and Economic challenges.

“Time is running short. We are past pledging and politicking. We are past commitments with little accountability. What’s at stake is life, and society, as the majority of us know it and enjoy it today,” she wrote in a policy letter.

The UN assembly comes at a time when the agency has just released its UN Environment background report. The report puts the value of lost ecosystem services between 1995 and 2011 at $4 trillion to $20 trillion in the report it’s revealed that agricultural practices are putting increasing pressure on the environment, costing an estimated $3 trillion per year, and estimates pollution-related costs at $4.6 trillion annually.

The UN Environment will use the occasion to launch the latest edition of the world’s only comprehensive global scan of the environment: Global Environment Outlook 6, which was produced by 252 scientists and experts from over 70 countries.

Why the Assembly is vital to the member states

The UN Environment Assembly also provides an opportunity for attendees to form partnerships and make deals that benefit people and the environment.

The President of the Assembly also the minister for Environment in Estonia Siim Kiisler urged member states to come up with enabling conditions that supports sustainable utilization of natural resources.

“We know we can build more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive societies with sustainable consumption and production patterns that address our environmental challenges and leave no one behind. But we will need to create the enabling conditions for this to happen. And we will need to do things differently,” the Minister said.