The Mirpuri Foundation participated in the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), which took place virtually, on February 22 and 23, and explored the theme: “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.

The two-day gathering of the world’s top environmental body focused on urgent and procedural decisions – calling for strengthened action to protect and restore nature, as well as for nature-based solutions to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), across its social, economic and environmental dimensions.

UNEA-5 started with an Opening Plenary where Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, called on delegates to turn 2021 into the year we begin to make peace with nature. She said: “We have to acknowledge that we need an all of society effort to radically change our ways if we are to make peace with the planet and therefore create the environmental conditions so that all of humanity can thrive, now and for generations to come”. Anderson also asked delegates to approve UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy 2022-25, which will tackle the three planetary crisis.

The Portuguese Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, took part in the High Level Plenary Meeting. In his opening speech, he declared that “now more than ever, it is vital to work together towards a recovery from this global humanitarian crisis that is economically and socially inclusive, one that will bring us closer to a truly green and fair transition”. As Portugal now holds the Presidency of the Council, the Minister’s speech on behalf of the European Union (EU) added that 2021 is a “make it or break it« year”, when it comes to protecting people and nature.

The session heard a recorded message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.

The first day was also marked by the launch of the Global Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Efficiency (GACERE), which gathers governments and organizations with the intention to push for a global transition to a circular economy and to galvanize initiatives that make the use of resources more sustainable.

Closing the first day of the event, a Leadership Dialogue for Ministers of Environment and other high-level representatives was convened. It discussed the contribution of the environmental dimension of sustainability to building a resilient and inclusive post-pandemic world.

The last day of the event opened with the second part of the Leadership Dialogue. Ministers revealed how their countries are already building back better. Climate financing was mentioned by its importance post Covid-19, stating that the pandemic is both a threat and an opportunity – to put in place a green recovery.

Following, a press conference took place, moderated by Keisha Rukikaire, Head of News & Media at UNEP. Participating in this press conference were Sveinung Rotevatn (President of UNEA and Minister of Environment and Climate of Norway) and Inger Andersen (UNEP Executive Director).

UNEA-5 ended with a Wrap Up Plenary where factual summaries of the Leadership Dialogue, the Global Major Groups & Stakeholders Forum, the Science-Policy-Business Forum, and the Global Youth Environment Assembly were presented. The planet is in crisis and nature must be at the heart of global efforts, especially now that the world is recovering from a worldwide pandemic. UNEA-5 intends to provide leadership and catalyse intergovernmental actions on the environment. It also contributes to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing Member States and Stakeholders with a platform for sharing successful approaches. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this gathering on February 22-23 only comprised the first segment of UNEA-5. Substantive matters that require in-depth negotiations were deferred to an in-person session taking place in February 2022.

The Mirpuri Foundation had already been part of several UNEA-5 related events. It was present at the fifth meeting of the Open-Ended Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives – which took place on February 15 and 16 and aimed at preparing UNEA-5’s agenda – and at the Global Major Groups and Stakeholder Forum (GMGSF) – another meeting in preparation of UNEA-5.

The United Nations Environment Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, attended by multiple government leaders, businesses, civil society and environmental activists. It meets biennially and addresses the most critical environmental challenges facing the world – setting priorities for the global environmental policies and developing international environmental law.