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UN environment assembly ends amid call to revitalize green pandemic recovery

NAIROBI, (The Southern African Times) – The fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA5) wrapped up Tuesday with delegates adopting far-reaching resolutions aimed at hastening a green recovery from the socio-economic crisis wrought by COVID-19 pandemic.

Sveinung Rotevatn, president of UNEA5 and Norwegian minister of Climate and the Environment, said the two-day virtual summit provided an opportunity to chart a new road map for a sustainable, peaceful and inclusive post-pandemic future.

The first ever virtual UN Environment Assembly, themed “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” discussed reimagining of economic policies to ensure that growth is not detrimental to the health of ecosystems.

“Holding the environment assembly at a time of crisis was important. It reaffirmed the crucial role of environmental diplomacy to deal with the triple crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss,” said Rotevatn.

More than 12,000 delegates including environment ministers, donors, investors, scholars and green campaigners participated in the biennial summit that resolved to accelerate realization of a green, inclusive and prosperous future for societies reeling from pandemic related shocks.

Rotevatn said the summit reignited the urgency for countries to align economic development with planetary health in order to shield communities from natural calamities and disease outbreaks.

Besides discussing innovations that could accelerate a green pandemic recovery, the assembly also approved the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) new Medium Term Strategy covering 2022-2025.

“The strategy proposes harnessing science and innovations to transform economic sectors, renew nature and boost green pandemic recovery,” said Inger Andersen, UNEP executive director.

She said that countries should leverage on digital technologies, increase financing towards climate adaptation and act on chemical waste in order to boost the health of communities and natural habitats.

The assembly will build a momentum towards achieving carbon neutrality, eradicating marine pollution and reversing habitat loss in line with global conventions.

The second part of UNEA5 to be held in-person in 2022 is expected to adopt binding resolutions on eradicating chemical waste and restoring degraded ecosystems. 

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