By IISD’s SDG Knowledge Hub

27 March 2018: Member States have agreed that the fourth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) will focus on the theme, ‘Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production (SCP).’ In response to the theme, Major Groups and Stakeholders (MGS) are proposing that the scope of the meeting include not only technological innovation, but also social innovation and local and indigenous knowledge.

Bureau members of UNEA and the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) met from 22-23 March, in Nairobi, Kenya, at the 1st Joint Preparatory Retreat in the lead-up to UNEA-4. UNEA-4 will take place from 11-15 March 2019, in Nairobi.

UNEA-4 will issue a ministerial declaration and adopt resolutions based on negotiated texts submitted by Member States. The Assembly will endorse the sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) report, which draws on six regional environmental assessments to provide an independent assessment of the current state of the world’s environment. The report is to be available for intergovernmental review from 15 June to 15 August 2018, and countries have been requested to nominate recommended reviewers.

Botswana is currently chairing the CPR, and Estonia will be the President of UNEA-4. The joint Bureaux welcomed the President’s proposal to present a zero draft of the UNEA-4 ministerial outcome document at the second joint preparatory retreat, which will take place in September 2018. Member States also requested the secretariat to undertake further consultations with the CPR before finalizing its draft note on ‘Contributions of the UNEA to the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF).’ The draft note on UNEA contributions represents the substantive input of UNEA to the July 2018 session of the HLPF. It highlights specific examples of UNEP’s contribution towards the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the targets most relevant to its mandate. The note also emphasizes the importance of capacity building and aligning governance structures, including the global financial system, to the challenges of sustainability.

MGS met on 21 March and provided proposals on the organization of UNEA-4 to the Bureaux. They called for UNEA-4 to provide an opportunity for them to speak in their own right, as well as under the MGS umbrella. On the UNEA-4 theme, they stressed that innovation is not only provided by the business sector, but also by civil society groups and local communities. They recommended that the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) be held between the Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR) meeting and UNEA, to enable them to better reflect on OECPR deliberations. They expressed concern about a lack of clarity regarding the monitoring of commitments made at UNEA-3, and proposed the development of an online platform that could promote the follow-up of voluntary commitments and communicate examples of good practices.

Member States agreed that the Executive Director will report to UNEA-4 on the status of stakeholder engagement with UNEA, and that the Secretariat will develop a note about the status of mobilization of resources for stakeholder engagement.

At the retreat, Member States also discussed the proposed Global Pact for the Environment, with some expressing concern about the negotiation of the Pact in New York, US, rather than in Nairobi.

The second preparatory retreat will be in Tallinn, Estonia, from 6-7 September 2018. Prior to the retreat, the Government of Estonia will host a conference related to the theme of UNEA-4. [Summary of the Retreat] [Summary of Pre-Retreat Meeting with MGS] [Secretariat Note on ‘Contribution of UNEA to the HLPF’] [SDG Knowledge Hub Sources]

Source:: IISD – International Negotiations

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