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Q&A: UN Environment Assembly Kicks Off With a Call to Make Peace with Nature

Joyce Msuya, the Deputy Executive Director for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), says environmental issues are development issues and therefore are everybody’s issues. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS
Joyce Msuya, the Deputy Executive Director for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), says environmental points are growth points and subsequently are everyone’s points. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

  • by Isaiah Esipisu (nairobi)
  • Inter Press Service

The meeting, world’s prime environmental decision-making physique attended by authorities leaders, companies, civil society and environmental activists, met nearly right now below a theme “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. It concludes Feb. 23.

Ahead of the meeting, IPS interviewed Joyce Msuya, the Deputy Executive Director for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), to discover out what to count on from the two-day occasion.

Excerpts of the interview observe.

Inter Press Service (IPS): What end result ought to African nations count on from the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)?

Joyce Msuya (JM): UNEA is the very best worldwide authority on environmental points, and is specializing in nature and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

In phrases of African nations, I’ll put three issues on the desk. One is Action. Science has already spoken. Climate change is a matter, and biodiversity loss is occurring at a sooner fee than ever earlier than, and lastly, air pollution, particularly plastic air pollution is a large downside. So what we’d like is to carry the African voices and management to UNEA, to collectively see what African nations plan to do by way of actions in delivering round these three planetary crises.

The second factor is partnerships. Environmental points are growth points and they’re everyone’s points. Citizens could make little adjustments of their households, communities could make little adjustments for instance on waste administration, and those that dwell across the oceans can maintain the blue economic system. So we’d like to see how the governments work collectively with the personal sector, indigenous communities, with the youth and even youngsters to tackle the environmental adjustments.

The third subject is the help to the UNEP. UNEP is the one United Nations largest entity situated within the Southern Hemisphere. So that is the time it wants to be supported not simply by the federal government of Kenya, however by African governments.

IPS: How is the COVID-19 state of affairs going to have an effect on these outcomes?

JM: COVID-19 has already impacted and remains to be going to affect the assembly in 3 ways. The pandemic has really proven us the interconnectedness of setting in addition to of human well being. Last June for instance, UNEP launched a research on zoonotics to present the connection between nature and viruses.

In phrases of the affect on the assembly, that is the primary digital assembly with over 100 nations collaborating on-line. This digital connectivity was pushed by COVID-19.

Thirdly, due to the digital connectivity, nations and member states that aren’t represented in Nairobi shall be in a position to be part of by way of web connectivity. So the inclusive multilateralism may also be showcased as a part of the assembly. 

IPS: What knowledgeable the selection of UNEA-5’s theme, ‘Strengthening Actions for Nature to obtain the 2020 agenda on SDGs’?

JM: The design and the settlement of the theme was grounded on a consultative course of. For instance in Africa, there was the African ministerial assembly taking a look at environmental points. The theme was proposed for member states consideration and they also debated for its relevance, it’s implication for various nations and so they collectively selected this theme. It is a well timed theme for the character, but in addition for the SDGs. We are 9 years away for the 2030 deadline for the SDGs.

As the UN Secretary General has already stated, that is the UN decade for motion when it comes to agenda 2030.

IPS: The UN Secretary General has additionally stated that that is the 12 months he’s pushing for commitments from all member states for zero emissions by 2050, and the COP is essentially the most acceptable discussion board the place this could materialize. What does the UNEP need to see by way of commitments?

JM: We work below numerous groups below the Secretary General and what he stated is definitely what has been guiding our work. We work very intently with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP) on local weather change and we’re offering science to assist the discussions. As nicely, we must always not neglect in regards to the COP on biodiversity, which shall be hosted by China as a result of nature and local weather change go hand in hand.

In addition, we’re offering science to inform for instance companies. Recently we launched the Global Environmental Outlook for Business to present knowledge and science to assist companies perceive what position they’ll play in lowering the affect of local weather change.

IPS: In many African nations, individuals have invaded wetlands with buildings being constructed in such areas particularly in city areas to accommodate the surging inhabitants. Is this a concern to you? If so, how can it’s addressed?

JM: In UNEP we imagine that wetlands are essential in sustaining micro-climates within the areas the place they happen, in addition to releasing moisture into the ambiance by way of evaporation.

At the worldwide degree we advocate for the preservation of the wetlands. We have labored with a variety of nations in sharing experiences which might be working very nicely on preservation of wetlands from one nation to one other. Our science additionally helps inform how wetlands may be preserved and in Kenya right here for instance, we work with the federal government at their request to present technical help and science to help their efforts in defending the wetlands.

Overall in lots of African nations, we’re beginning a dialogue with ministries of setting the place we’re advocating for the preservation of wetlands.

IPS: What form of insurance policies do we’d like to put in place to reverse the biodiversity loss internationally?

JM: One of the locations the place UNEP has been working with the Biodiversity Secretariat is on the publish 2020 Biodiversity Framework. Parties, member states and the setting neighborhood have been trying on the classes realized from earlier research. And now there may be a new biodiversity framework that shall be mentioned on the COP.

So, one, is offering substantive help to the work of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The second, for instance in Kenya, we’re working with the Ministry of Interior on tree planting. The authorities has set out a objective of planting hundreds of thousands of timber over the following two years, and thru our Africa division. We are supporting these efforts. We have had a few of our workers members be part of fingers with native communities to plant timber.

Then third space is on partnerships. Trees are essential not just for the setting, but in addition for the agriculture sector. So we’re becoming a member of fingers with different components of the UN to advocate and help tree planting.

IPS: How has COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns impacted on local weather motion globally?

JM: That is a very fascinating query. From the time the pandemic got here in place nearly a 12 months in the past, a variety of nations shut down together with workplaces and financial actions. What anecdotal proof appears to recommend is that air air pollution has been addressed. This is as a result of there have been no many vehicles within the streets, and there was no a lot air pollution into the air.

However, we must always not neglect that the pandemic remains to be a humanitarian downside and a disaster as a result of individuals have misplaced jobs and lots of extra have misplaced lives. We have been working with the World Health Organisation for instance to try to perceive the hyperlink between nature and well being.

We are additionally conscious that that is additionally an financial downside, and we’re seeing a variety of nations now rebuilding their economies.

But the publish COVID-19 period supplies us with a chance for a inexperienced reconstruction of our economies. So the pandemic has been a reflecting time, however it has additionally proven that UNEP, member states and multilateralism can nonetheless perform nearly.

© Inter Press Service (2021) — All Rights ReservedOriginal supply: Inter Press Service

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