The United Nations summit on the Environment was held from 23rd to 27th May in Nairobi, Kenya, headquarters of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). In participation were all Ministers of Environment of UN member countries, prominent persons and more than 1,300 delegates, in other words, more than 3000 participants. The objective of this meeting was to extend the work of COP21 on the environment and to ensure that the objectives of Agenda 2030 are respected in the interest of sustainable development, an agenda which is particularly aimed at protecting marine life and water resources.
Participants at this Assembly, considered by many as the « Parliament for the Environment», discussed air pollution and illicit trade in endangered species.
The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was created during the United Nations conference on sustainable development in 2012, to strengthen and enhance the role of UNEP. UNEA has since then become the main leading organ of UNEP and has the mandate to take strategic decisions, bring policy direction to the work of UNEP and promote a strong interface between science and policy.
«The world must seize this opportunity to assess and accelerate progress towards a better and greener future for all» stated the Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner. «The UNAE provides the world with an opportunity to unite in a common fight against the forces of hunger, poverty, climate change and environmental degradation. We must take advantage of the second edition of UNEA to demonstrate that we can make quick and steady progress to create a healthy planet, of healthy people, without exceptions, without leaving anyone behind» added Achim Steiner.
UNEP demanded «a greener future for all » and 25 resolutions were adopted with the aim of compelling governments, private businesses and civil society to strengthen their ecological agenda, by fighting particularly against the pollution of water bodies and the air, and also against poaching which depletes worldwide fauna and to encourage the role of community leaders and women in environmental protection.
Seven air pollution monitors will also be installed in Nairobi, at the headquarters of UNEP. The issue of pollution of water bodies was also raised by many. In East Africa for example, the stakes are particularly high with regard to protection of water bodies, since people on the coast of the Indian ocean and Lake Victoria among others make a living from fishing and seaside tourism. The huge Lake Victoria is therefore a source of income for many tens of thousands of people in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. However, its ecosystem is at risk due to pollution and over fishing; its biodiversity is being depleted.
The power to curb this negative decline often rests in the hands of local actors in the fishing and tourism sector. Even though some NGOs fear promises which have no future, the experts say there are some tangible commitments. Green peace for example has emphasized «a significant progress for UNEP» whose voice is «becoming more influential» within the United Nations system according to the environmental NGO.
As a reminder, the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly was held in June 2014, in Nairobi. It will be the turn of Morocco next November, to host the 22nd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) in Marrakech.
Courtesy image of UNEP/UNEA