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The UN Environmental Assembly Reaches Landmark Resolutions to Implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement

Friday, 01 July 2016
The second session of the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2) of the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) took place from 26 to 29 May 2016 at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. UNEA-2 was convened under the overarching theme ‘Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’*, bringing together thousands of delegates from 174 countries as well as representatives of business and accredited Major Groups and Stakeholders. UNEA-2 provided the first global platform for reviewing progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and resulted in the adoption of 25 resolutions as well as a global call to action to address crucial global environmental issues. In fact, the participants focused their attention on a multitude of critical environmental issues relating to: i) the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement, ii) illegal trade on wildlife and iii) marine litter and debris.

During the High- Level Segment of the Meeting, the delegates endorsed the draft Global Thematic Report on ‘Healthy Environment, Healthy People’**. This report highlights the existing linkages between environmental quality, human health and well-being while analysing the broader drivers of these linkages, including unsustainable consumption and production patterns, inequality, unplanned urbanization and unhealthy lifestyles. In this context, the delegates called on UNEP to develop research on actions that could be adopted to implement SDGs relevant to the issue.

The adopted resolution titled ‘Roles of UNEP and UNEA in Delivering on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ emphasizes that UNEP, within its mandate, has an important role in the follow up and review of the progress made in implementing the environmental dimension of sustainable development, On its part, UNEA is committed to contributing to the effective implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in an integrated manner. In the context of the resolution on ‘Supporting the Paris Agreement’, UNEA agrees that UNEP should accelerate support to developing countries in order to enhance their national capacity to implement the climate agreement.

Moreover, UNEA passed a resolution on the key issue of the illegal trade in wildlife which inter alia recognizes the important role that the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife can play in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Building on the 2015  UN General Assembly Resolution 69/314 on ‘ Tackling the Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife’,*** UNEA urges state cooperation with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and calls on the UN Member States to render illicit traffic in protected species of wild fauna and flora  a serious crime.

Recognizing the severe effects of the marine litter on the marine environment, UNEA reached a resolution   which calls on the product manufacturers and others to consider the lifecycle environmental impacts of products containing microbeads and compostable polymers, including possible downstream impacts. Delegates further sought the assistance of UNEP to assess the effectiveness of relevant international, regional and sub-regional governance strategies and approaches to combat marine plastic litter and microplastics.

Resolutions on food waste and sustainable consumption and production, which both impacts on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement in terms of increasing emissions and resource use and holding back efforts to reduce hunger, were passed. Interestingly enough, UNEA reached a decision which requests the UN Member States to take appropriate measures so as to ensure compliance with international obligations under international humanitarian law in relation to the protection of the environment in times of armed conflict.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "The environment has always been, and will always be, at the heart of humanity's prosperity. World nations recognized this in 2015 with global accords, such as the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. What we have seen in the last five days is the same political will and passion for change that brought about the groundbreaking international agreements of 2015. With global consensus affirmed, we are taking steps to bring about a real transformation of our development models. The United Nations Environment Assembly is providing leadership and guidance the world needs to take these unprecedented steps. In the decisions made here at this assembly for the environment, we see a significant directional shift that will inform Ministers' decisions in their home countries. We will now need to see the bold and decisive commitment observed at UNEA transmitted at the national level to drive forward the 2030 Agenda and ensure a brighter future for people and planet."

* For further information on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, see:
**For the report See:
*** For further information on the UN General Assembly Resolution 69/314 on ‘Tackling the Illicit Trafficking in Wildlife’, see:

Sources: UNEP NEWS CENTER, IISD Reporting Services
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