The 4th United Nations Environment Assembly took place in Nairobi, Kenya from the 11th to the 15th March 2019. The focus themes addressed ranged from tackling the environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss, to introducing life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management, and ensuring sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change. In addition, the 6th Global Environment Outlook (GEO) was presented. Produced by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries, the GEO is the most comprehensive report on the global environment. It shows that the overall environmental situation is deteriorating globally and the window for action is closing.
The report, entitled “Healthy Planet, Healthy People”, takes stock of global environmental policy and identifies air pollution, loss of biodiversity, excessive pressure on natural resources and the pollution of ecosystems, especially through chemicals, as particularly critical areas requiring increased efforts. The GEO calls on decision makers to take immediate action to address pressing environmental issues to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as other Internationally Agreed Environment Goals, such as the Paris Agreement. The demand for natural resources and environmental impacts need to be decoupled even more strongly from growth. The efficient and sustainable use of resources is essential to achieve the SDGs. According to the International Resource Panel of the United Nations Environment Programme, twelve of the 17 SDGs directly depend on the sustainable use of natural resources.
What is new this year is that the GEO is based on regional analyses and directly refers to achieving the SDGs. It views the integration of the respective affected groups as well as the potential losers of the reorientation of economic processes as a key element to enable necessary transformation.
According to the GEO, opposition among actors in other policy areas has been identified as a key cause of the low effectiveness of environment policy measures. In order to better protect the environment, environmental policy has to be institutionally strengthened, it argues. World-wide efforts to protect the environment require more support, and environmental policy needs to become more effective and be integrated in all sectors.
Website of the 4th UN Environment Assembly
Download Global Environment Outlook 2019