By Sharon Atieno

As the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) -the highest decision-making body on environmental issues- opened up in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, the world has been urged to unite for stronger action against the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.

“We are living in a time of turmoil. And I know that in this room, there are people who are, or who know, those deeply affected by this turmoil. Our response must demonstrate that multilateral diplomacy can deliver,” Leila Benali, President of UNEA-6 and Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development for the Kingdom of Morocco.

“As we meet here in 2024, we must be self-critical and work towards inclusive, networked and effective multilateralism that can make a tangible difference to people’s lives.”
Banali noted that inclusion includes voices of youth, indigenous peoples and local communities, by focusing on issues of gender and human rights, and leaving no one behind.

“And today, and at this UN Environment Assembly, we must accelerate multilateral action to strengthen the environmental foundation of sustainable development,” she urged.

Leila Benali, UNEA-6 President
Photo credits: UNEP

According to Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, it is time to lay political differences aside and focus on the planet and the common goal of a pathway to a sustainable and safe future.

“We do this by agreeing on the resolutions before UNEA-6 to boost multilateral action for today and tomorrow, and secure intergenerational justice and equity,” she said.

On her end, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Environment , Soipan Tuya, said, “ Scientific assessments continue to provide us with stark evidence that we must do more to address the environment crisis…We are not doing too well as the global community. We must change course, and we must do so as soon as possible.”

Tuya noted that for UNEA-6 to achieve its goal of effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral action to tackle the environmental crisis, a lot of action, hard work , honest negotiations are needed.

More than 7,000 delegates including include Heads of State, representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector from 182 UN Member States and more than 170 Ministers have registered for UNEA-6, taking place under the theme, effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

UNEA-6 will see countries consider some 19 resolutions, part of a broader push to spur more ambitious multilateral environmental action. The resolutions cover, among other issues, circular economy; solar radiation modification; effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions towards climate justice; sound management of chemicals and waste, and sand and dust storms.

A series of leadership and multi-stakeholder dialogues and more than 30 official side events and associated events are expected to lay the grounds for strengthened future global and regional coordinated efforts by the United Nations, Member States and partners to deliver high-impact planetary action.

UNEA-6 will also highlight the importance of cooperation with multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) – international agreements that address the most pressing environmental issues of global or regional concern and are critical instruments of international environmental governance and international environmental law – with a full day devoted to strengthening convergence of actions and sharing of experiences while also providing increased visibility to the MEAs.