UN Environment Assembly opens with call to hasten recovery from pandemic

2021-02-22 16:05:45 GMT2021-02-23 00:05:45(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

NAIROBI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- The fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA5) kicked off on Monday with a call for concerted efforts to restore the health of ecosystems and secure a post COVID-19 pandemic's future that is resilient, inclusive and prosperous.

Delegates from across the world including the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres attended the first ever virtual global environment assembly under the theme -- Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"We meet at a time of crisis and fragility. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause turmoil worldwide. We face triple environmental emergencies: climate disruption, biodiversity decline and pollution epidemic that is cutting short nine million lives every year," said Guterres.

He said the assembly provides an opportunity to explore nature-based innovations that can be harnessed to curb emission of planet warming gases, protect endangered species and halt pollution of vital ecosystems.

"We must put the health of our planet at the heart of plans and policies," said Guterres adding that the attainment of UN 2030 goals hinges on robust action on desertification, marine litter, growing food and water insecurity.

Guterres said the two-day global environment assembly should reignite a transformation in the way societies relate with nature in order to avert climate emergencies and pandemics.

Environment ministers from more than 180 countries, representatives from multilateral institutions, industry, academia and civil society will be participating in the biennial event to set a new global agenda for the planet and its resources.

The summit will discuss the environmental dimension of sustainable development goals alongside innovative strategies to strengthen the resilience of economies and livelihoods in a pandemic era.

Delegates will also approve the UN Environment Program's (UNEP) medium-term strategy for the period covering 2022 to 2025 as well as the program of work and budget for the 2022-2023 period.

Sveinung Rotevatn, president of UNEA5 and Norwegian Minister of Environment and Climate said that building a strong and resilient post-pandemic future will be at the heart of the summit's debate and resolutions.

He said that policy and regulatory reforms, adequate financing, adoption of technology and innovations is key to secure a post-pandemic future that can withstand climatic shocks and the spread of lethal pathogens.

Inger Andersen, UNEP executive director said the global environment assembly took place amid historic socio-economic and ecological upheavals, adding that striking harmony with nature is key to strengthen the resilience of communities and their habitats. Enditem