Reflection on the second session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly

From 20-21 September, Soroptimist International UN Representatives at Nairobi, Dr. Alice Odingo and Rose Mwangi attended a workshop, ‘Reflection on the second session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA 2) outcomes and climate change adaptation through a multi stakeholder approach: Post UNEA 2 workshop for East and Southern Africa’ at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi.

The Assembly, which is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment and has a universal membership of all 193 United Nations Member States and the full involvement of major groups and stakeholders. The UNEA reaches widely into the legislative, financial and development arenas, providing a ground-breaking platform for leadership on global environmental policy.

The workshop was organised by UNEP in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Kenya, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW). Stakeholders from East and Southern Africa with an interest in climate change, food security as well as other areas relating to environmental conservation and governance were invited to attend.

The two-day workshop served as a debriefing session on the UNEA 2 resolutions and the Paris Climate Agreement, both of which Soroptimist International UN Representatives attended, and linked the outcomes of these two conferences to the SDGs in the African context. The workshop provided participants with the opportunity to reflect on the role of non-governmental stakeholders in implementing these agreements, as well as on the implications of this commitment to developing countries in Africa. The workshop focused on the nexus between climate change and food security, illegal wildlife trade and deliberated on the implications of these for Africa, and together with the necessary partnerships, policy and legal frameworks explored solutions to mitigate their effects.

Although the phenomenon of climate change is global, its impacts are varied and mainly detrimental to the largely tropical arid and semi-arid areas as in sub-Sahara Africa that is most vulnerable, with negative developmental consequences for the continent and its people. This is because about 70% of the people of Africa live in rural areas and mostly depend largely on agriculture and natural resource based activities for their livelihoods.

The conference forged strong networks and partnerships to enable the proper implementation of the UNEA 2 resolutions, Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals in Africa. The importance of organisations exploiting their strengths; enhancing synergies; information sharing and capacity building was emphasized. It was noted that gender issues with respect to climate change had not been adequately addressed and hence the need to make our own contributions to the policy framework to enhance policy coherence and implementation. To mitigate climate change effects, there is need to adopt coordinated water management; water re-cycling; better use of water resources; renewable energy; storage of basic foods; transform agriculture; good governance; coordinated and integrated response and; embark on a collective and multidisciplinary approach.


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