UNEA-6 advances collaborative action on triple planetary crisis


The sixth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) concluded on Friday 1st March 2024 in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, with Member States delivering 15 resolutions aiming to boost multilateral efforts to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature loss and pollution.

More than 5,600 people – representing 190 countries – participated in the week-long Assembly held at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, focused on effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.

The UNEA-6 resolutions advance the work of Member States on management of metals, mineral resources, chemicals and waste, on environmental assistance and recovery in areas impacted by armed conflict, on integrated water resource management in the domestic sector, agriculture and industry to tackle water stress, on sustainable lifestyles, on rehabilitation of degraded lands and waters, and more.

The 2024 Assembly also held its first Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) Day, dedicated to the international agreements addressing the most pressing environmental issues of global or regional concern, which are critical instruments of international environmental governance and international environmental law. UNEA-6 also welcomed youth to host their own environmental summit, which called for greater inter-generational equity.

A Ministerial Declaration on the closing day affirmed Member States’ commitment to slow climate change, restore and protect biodiversity, create a pollution-free world and confront issues of desertification, land and soil degradation, drought and deforestation by taking effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions.

“I am proud to say this was a successful Assembly, where we advanced on our core mandate: the legitimate human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, everywhere,” said Leila Benali, UNEA-6 President and the Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development of Morocco. “We have agreed on 15 resolutions, two decisions and a ministerial declaration.”

“As governments, we need to push for more and reinvented partnerships with key stakeholders to implement these mandates. We need to continue to partner with civil society, continue to guide and empower our creative youth, and also with the private sector and philanthropies,” she added.

Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director, said: “Madam President has gavelled 15 resolutions and two decisions, which cover important aspects of the triple planetary crisis. You asked for advances in securing the metals and minerals needed for the transition to net-zero. You called for the world to do better on protecting the environment during and after conflicts. You delivered resolutions that will help UNEP and Member States do more on chemicals and waste, and sand and dust storms”.

“The President has gavelled resolutions that address desertification, land restoration and more. We also have a ministerial declaration that affirms the international community’s strong intent to slow climate change, restore nature and land, and create a pollution-free world,” she said.

“UNEP will now take forward the responsibilities you have entrusted to us in these new resolutions. In addition to keeping the environment under review. In addition to fulfilling our obligation to serve as an authoritative advocate for action across the triple planetary crisis,” Andersen added.

“The world needs action. The world needs speed. The world needs real, lasting change. UNEA-6 has delivered an extra boost to help us deliver this change and to ensure every person on this planet enjoys the right to a safe and healthy environment,” she said.

UNEA-6 also elected a new President to preside over UNEA-7 – Abdullah Bin Ali Amri, Chairman of the Environment Authority of Oman.

“In our quest to confront the monumental environmental challenges of our time—climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution—there is but one path forward: teamwork. We share one Earth, bask under the same sun, and we must recognize that there is no backup plan. There’s no other planet waiting for us to escape to. Hence, it’s imperative that we unite our efforts with urgency and determination to safeguard our precious planet and protect its natural splendor. Together, let’s embark on this crucial journey to secure a sustainable future for generations to come,” said Bin Ali Amri, who closed his speech with an appeal for peace on and towards earth.

Data from the 2024 Global Resource Outlook, which was launched at UNEA, warned that without urgent and concerted action to reduce global consumption and production, extraction of natural resources could rise by 60 per cent from 2020 levels, driving increasing climate damage and risks to biodiversity and human health. The Global Waste Management Outlook 2024 showed that without a seismic shift away from ‘take-make-dispose’ societies towards circular economy and zero-waste approaches, the world’s waste pile could grow by two-thirds by 2050, and its cost to health, economies and the environment could double.  A UNEP report on Used Heavy Duty Vehicles and the Environment, launched during a Climate and Clean Air Conference held in Nairobi ahead of UNEA, sounded the alarm on the rise of emissions from these heavy polluters, and their negative climate and health impacts.

Member states also agreed to hold the next UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-7) in 8-12 December, 2025.