UNEA: Summit ends with promise to keep an eye on pollution, waste

President William Ruto and United Nations General Assembly President Dennis Francis at State House, Nairobi. [Elly Kaptain, Standard]

The sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly came to an end on Friday evening with 15 resolutions, two decisions, and a ministerial statement.

All of these were aimed at halting the progression of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste.

The meeting was the first intergovernmental global meeting after the Conference of Parties (COP28) held last November in Dubai.

Among the resolutions were the circularity of a resilient and low-carbon sugar cane agro-industry and amendments to the instrument for the establishment of the restructured global environment facility.

Enhancing the role and viability of regional forums of environment ministers and United Nations Environment Programme regional offices in achieving multilateral cooperation in tackling environmental challenges was another resolution.

Promoting synergies, cooperation, or collaboration for national implementation of multilateral environmental agreements and other relevant environmental instruments was also passed.

Other resolutions addressed environmental aspects of minerals and metals, fostering national action to address global environmental challenges through increased cooperation between the United Nations Environment Assembly, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep), and multilateral environmental agreements.

Also passed were resolutions on combating sand and dust storms, promoting sustainable lifestyles, and sound management of chemicals and waste.

Promoting regional cooperation on air pollution to improve air quality globally and providing environmental assistance and recovery in areas affected by armed conflict was also passed. The meeting also passed resolutions on effective and inclusive solutions for strengthening water policies to achieve sustainable development in the context of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

Strengthening international efforts to combat desertification and land degradation, restore degraded land, promote land conservation, and implement sustainable land management practices was also passed.

Additionally, a resolution was passed to contribute to land degradation neutrality and enhance drought resilience. Finally, efforts to strengthen ocean initiatives to address climate change, marine biodiversity loss, and pollution were endorsed.

The five-day environmental meeting, held at Unep in Gigiri, Nairobi, from Monday to Friday, saw more than 7,000 delegates from 182 UN member states and over 170 ministers register for Unea-6.

The theme of the meeting was “Multilateral Solutions to Climate Change, Nature Loss, and Pollution.”

Heads of state and governments sounded the alarm on the worsening impacts of climate change on communities, acknowledging that the transboundary nature of environmental challenges necessitates multilateral responses.

President William Ruto was joined by heads of state and government, including President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana, President Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), Transitional President Brice Nguema of Gabon, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (Somalia), Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, and Prime Minister Ariel Henry of Haiti, among others.