Follow up Implementation of the 4th Session of the UNEA 4

A blog by Mary Muia, Soroptimist International (SI) United Nations (UN) Representative, Nairobi

“The incoming Executive Director to UNEP/EA, Ms Inger Andersen during the 146th meeting of the Committee of the Permanent Representatives (CPR) to the United Nations held on 20 June 2019 remarked:

 “We are at one of the most complex moments in history. The health of our environment and what’s at stake is more in public conscience than ever before. The science is definitive. We have a limited window of opportunity to steer humanity towards sustainability. But with these challenges have come astonishing human capacity for innovation and imagination towards finding solutions” 

March 15, 2019. Nairobi Kenya. Closing Plenary, the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly UNEA 4. © NATALIA MROZ/ UNEP

The focus of the meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representative to UNEP drew members states attention to the importance of systematic follow up on UNEA 4 Resolutions. Member states resolved that an agreed upon upon framework of implementation and documentation of lessons learnt of the UNEA-4 Resolutions is necessary and forms a basis for evaluation on achievements and progress towards a sustainable planet. The CPR also unveiled the new composition of the newly elected Bureau for the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly is accessible here: Presidency and Bureau

Of relevance were the discussions relating to the way forward in the implementation of UNEA.4/Resolution.17:

Promoting gender equality and the human rights and empowerment of women and girls in environmental governance

A summary of the Resolution states that; in its First Global Assessment of the Environmental Rule of Law, UN Environment finds that women are less likely to have rights to land and resources than men. They are often more affected by pollution, and they are less likely to have a voice in decisions or to have their rights (to the extent they exist on paper) enforced. This situation persists despite the reaffirmation of the right of all to participate in environmental protection by the Rio + 20. This is why the adoption of the resolution on Promoting gender equality and the human rights and empowerment of women and girls in environmental governance represents a milestone achievement for UN Environment and its Assembly. In an era where an average of 4 people a week, including women, are being killed while carrying out their legitimate work to defend the environment, the adoption of the resolution is particularly timely and critical.

Apart from recognising the principles of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, the resolution also invites member states to support capacity-building to enhance women’s active and meaningful participation in decision-making. It calls on UN Environment to increase its collaboration with other UN entities working in the field of human rights and gender issues. The resolution to recognise the role women play as managers of natural resources and agents of change in safeguarding the environment.

See the link of the ministerial declaration and the resolutions and the decisions adopted at the fourth session of UN Environment Assembly.

The way forward:

The Gender and Safeguards Unit in Policy and Programme division will undertake to coordinate the overall implementation of the Resolution. Specifically, the Unit will focus on carrying out a pilot survey of member countries to identify country level gender related needs and challenges; capacity enhancement of staff from environment ministries from selected member states; development of materials and tools for gender mainstreaming.

UN Environment, through its Law Division, will undertake the following actions to support the implementation through the:

  • Launch of a planned (and costed) global campaign with OHCHR and UN Women to promote, protect and respect environmental rights (with a focus on women agents of change);
  • Strengthen collaboration with OHCHR and the UN Office of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment through the signing of an approved MoU with OHCHR;
  • Convene multistakeholder consultations (Asia and Latin America planned for 2019) to enhance access to information on environmental governance frameworks, especially rights and obligations, with the majority participation of and guidance from women stakeholders;
  • Through a costed joint work plan with the UN Special Rapporteur and OHCHR, convene expert consultations and produce materials and tools to contribute to the implementation of environmental governance frameworks that, inter alia, promote gender equality as well as the human rights and empowerment of women; and
  • Collaborate with partners, including member states and actors working on gender, to strengthen international legal frameworks to address priority environmental governance issues.

Finally, the follow implementation plan requests the Executive Director to report at the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5), on the implementation of UNEP´s Policy and Strategy on Gender Equality and the Environment 2014-2017, including in UNEP planning instruments, investment frameworks and the networks and sector-wide programs, based on the information gathered from Parties and stakeholders, and taking into consideration its synergies and interlinkages with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, multilateral environmental agreements, gender action plans and the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, as well as on the way forward;

Soroptimist International’s advocacy agenda will draw from this implementation follow up framework to support the implementation of women, environment and #ClimateAction-SDG 13.

Lead Image: Mary Muia, SI UN Rep, Deputy Director UNEP Ms Joyce Msuya, New Executive Director UNEP Ms Inger Andersen, Sophia Kipkoech SI UN Rep

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