Over 70 environment ministers to attend five days UNEA 6 climate event

UNEP executive director Inger Andersen and Environment CS Soipan Tuya after a meeting in preparations for UNEA-6. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Over 70 environment ministers from across the world will attend the world’s top decision-making body on the environment United Nations Environmental Assembly( UNEA).

This is according to United Nations Environment Programme( UNEP) executive director Inger Andersen.

The sixth event(UNEA-6) will be held at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi from  February 26 to March 1, 2024.

It will bring together ministers, intergovernmental organisations, the broader UN system, civil society groups, the scientific community and the private sector to shape global environmental policy.

“This year, we are expecting more than 70 Ministers and 3,000 delegates to join us in Nairobi. We currently have 20 draft resolutions and two draft decisions submitted for countries to discuss,” said Ms Anderson.

She said this while addressing the media on Thursday in Nairobi, together with Soipan Tuya, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Forestry on preparations of the UNEA-6.

The meeting comes a few months after the country held a three-day Africa Climate Summit in early September last year.

The summit came up with The Nairobi Declaration, resulting in Africa’s resolve to pursue green growth by leveraging her immense climate action potential in sectors such as renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, critical minerals and blue economy among others.

According to Ms Anderson, the world has an environmental must-do list or what UNEP call the triple planetary crises or threats that will be tackled at the UNEA-6.

They include the crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss and the crisis of pollution and waste.

“This crisis disproportionately impacts the African continent, including Kenya,” she said.

Ms Anderson added: “The impacts are here and growing. Last year was the hottest on record, bringing more intense storms, droughts and wildfires. Species are under massive pressure, forests are falling and soils are turning infertile. Millions of people are dying each year from exposure to pollution and chemicals."

She said the UNEA-6 will place a strong focus on the need for stronger multilateralism in the above crisis and among the key thematic areas in the assembly will be mining, water, global diversity programme, nutrients, aligning financial systems with sustainability and solar radiation modification.

She said there is already a global response to the crisis after last year’s climate talks at the COP28 in Dubai, which signalled the end of fossil fuels and the Loss and Damage Fund became operational with over US$700 million(Sh ..)pledges.

“We saw a new global framework on chemicals and the first full year of operation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. We’re in the final stages of negotiations on a global instrument on plastic pollution – a key outcome of UNEA-5. There are dozens of other global and regional multilateral environmental agreements, many of them hosted by UNEP,” said Anderson.

She added: “So, we have the commitments. We know the solutions. There is more than enough finance in the world to get the job done, if redirected to the right places. The job now is to go further and faster in efforts to end the triple planetary crisis.”

In addition to the core resolutions, UNEA-6 will start with a Youth Environment Assembly, convened by youth for youth.

Ms Anderson said there will be leadership dialogues on finance, science, data and digitalisation, and on multilateralism.

"We will have a day dedicated to bringing together the many multilateral environmental agreements that global governments have signed up to, with a view to creating united and amplified action,” she said.

CS Tuya on her part said Kenya will host a circular economy side event at Kenya House during UNEA-6 with a focus on tackling waste.

“We hope to create a robust waste collection system at source and this calls for close collaboration with counties. We are at a very advanced stage of signing a collaboration framework with waste management being the core of it,” said Tuya.

“We are also in the process of setting up material recovery centres in five pilot counties (cities) of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Eldoret," she added.

On the carbon market, the CS said they have come up with regulations on benefits sharing, which she hopes legislators will approve when they come from recess.

To boost water access, she said the country is focusing on wetlands restoration, which is low-hanging fruits.

The CS said President William Ruto will attend the official opening ceremony of UNEA-6 on Monday 26 and deliver the UNEA-6 national and welcoming statement.

During the entire duration of UNEA-6, Tuya said there will be a showcase of Kenya’s rich cultural heritage, climate action potential and tourist offering to visiting delegates.