World Leaders delve into urgent environmental issues at UN Environment Assembly

UN Environment | Feb 19, 2021 at 1:00 AM

As countries continue to grapple with the consequences of a worldwide pandemic, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) will meet virtually from 22 – 23 February. In its fifth session, UNEA – the world’s highest environmental decision-making body – will bring together Ministers and policy-makers representing 193 Member States as well as scientists, leaders from civil society and the private sector.

Leadership Dialogues, hosted virtually, will consider environmental aspects of sustainable development and how they can be used to shape a more resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world. In particular, representatives will discuss ways to ensure that environmental issues remain a top priority; sustain political will and momentum to restore nature; and define the role of UNEP in driving the process.

In 2020, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres warned that “Humanity is waging a war on nature”, emphatic that our existing systems of consumption and production are unsustainable. As we destroy ecosystems, he explained, we are effectively destroying ourselves.

Largely attributable to conditions created by excessive extraction and consumption of nature, zoonotic diseases – diseases that enter into the human population through an animal source – are on the rise everywhere in the world. Unsustainable consumption has had a devastating impact on the world’s ecosystems, propelling climate change, destroying nature, and raising pollution levels.

With a view to catalyse transformative change, dialogues will be informed by a report released by UNEP today. A blueprint for a sustainable world, “Making Peace With Nature” draws a pathway for movement toward circular economies and fairer societies, while also addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Ultimately, it says, the well-being of people and ecosystems will depend on our ability to halt environmental destruction.

Spanning time zones, the Leadership Dialogue will be held on 22 February at 16.00 – 19.00 and on 23 February at 11.00 – 14.00, Nairobi time (GMT+3). Register for/view livestream sessions here.