Have we reached a positive tipping point on the climate crisis?

Article written by Mary Muia, SI UN Representative, Nairobi

“Fixing the planet’s problem isn’t as possible, rather focus on how we basically live our lives, how we grow our food, how we dispose of our waste and protect our environment.” Ms. Inger Andersen, Executive Director United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“I recently attended the week long 6th Annual Subcommittee Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives, 7 – 11 October 2019, held at the United Nations, Nairobi. In her opening remarks, Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP reflected on the gains made by the many governments and stakeholders, beginning to understand the importance of climate change. Anderson called on member states to build and strengthen UNEP to respond better to climate action and environmental stewardship. Action on climate, ecosystems and biodiversity are closely linked, and therefore there is a need to collaborate as a culture, to employ the matrix fully for easy flow of information. UNEP should be able to measure, quantify and communicate achievements. Further information HERE.

Andersen further appealed to member states to be aware of the root causes of environmental degradation, to reach out to every sector that influences the environment and for all work to be guided by the UNEP programme of work. The health of the environment and what is at stake is more prominent in public conscience than ever before. The science is definitive. We have a limited window of opportunity to steer humanity towards sustainability. However, with these challenges has come an astonishing human capacity for innovation and imagination in seeking solutions. In her closing words, Inger observed that we cannot achieve peace and prosperity without safeguarding the planet, as those are the very elements that are enshrined in the sustainable development goals.

UNEP Performance review January 2018 – June 2019

The 6th Annual Subcommittee Meeting included an intense discussion focusing on UNEP’s Programme Performance Review for the period January 2019 – June 2019, including UN Environment Assembly Resolutions. Under this agenda, the following areas of performance were presented by the secretariat to member states for deliberations, namely: Environmental Governance; Climate Change; Resilience to Disasters and Conflicts; Chemicals; Waste and Air Quality; and Healthy Productive Ecosystems. Remarkable achievements were attained in the biennium on reviewed targets, outlined in the results framework. Further information HERE.

In the reactions and interventions to the performance report, members applauded UNEP for excellent results, with observations made including: improving the structure of the reports to indicate funding needs; a need to document reasons and obstacles for non-achievements, and over achievement; an indication of projected performance for the following period. Further information HERE.

Photo: Mary Muia with Deputy Executive Director UNEP Ms. Joyce Msuya during the 6th sub committee meeting

In summary, members made several recommendations for future improvement: Analysis of performance trends and projections for the future; dedicated reporting websites where member states can do their own research. Regarding budget performance, reactions from members questioned how recorded achievements would translate into future resource mobilisation, and how earmarked funding may be used in a balanced manner, suggesting a need for drastic choices for the future, such as under-funded sub programmes to be allocated resources from core funding. It was also considered whether the UNEP could earmark funding from UN agencies. Lastly, members questioned whether the reported shortage of funding from regular funding is temporary, or whether there would remain a gap in the long term, and if so, how the secretariat would address this.

Of further relevance to SI were the follow up questions regarding waste management nature-based solutions – how will the sub-programmes implementation engage the private sector, and what is the impact at national level for the communities. Soroptimist clubs and federations could target these areas and choose to sharpen initiatives that address the actual needs in #ClimateAction. The 1st Consultation tentative meeting on the process for review by Committee of Permanent Representatives is on 31 October 2019. See more details HERE.

The 5th UN Environment Assembly (UNEA)

Date and venue for UNEA 5 was discussed at length and summary points made, to discuss the structure of the next Environment Assembly 5 as a Ceremonial commemoration, and included:

  • UNEA-5 be a special Session in Nairobi or elsewhere;
  • UN meeting/conference at the highest political level in a dedicated host country;
  • UN meeting under the General Assembly in New York;
  • Dedicated forums or summits for parliamentarians, youth or other stakeholders;
  • ‘Virtual’ UN meeting;
  • Series of multi-stakeholder-led events, activities or meetings;
  • Commemoration of the Creation of UNEP. Further information HERE.

UNEP Turns 50 years: Stockholm+50/UNEP+50

Kenya welcomed the statement by Sweden to celebrate 50 years of hosting UNEP. Kenya and Sweden are in consultation to work together to make the celebrations a success. Kenya noted that the event will provide an opportunity to take stock of progress made to protect the global environment and human well-being under the auspices of UNEP. Kenya hopes to kick-start the commemoration with a high-level event in 2021 during UNEA 5, and to have a full year of celebrations culminating in 2022. Kenya is ready to consult on modalities of commemoration with member states. On the same matter, Switzerland noted the sense of urgency to tackle global environmental decline. In order to address this global threat and to trigger the necessary political action, the environment must be placed on the highest political agenda. We have an opportunity to do so in 2022 with Stockholm +50, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of UNEP.”



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