About United Nations Environment Programme
The United Nations Environment Programme is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.
As part of Australia’s commitment to environment cooperation, the department participates in the biennial meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). The Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, and enjoys universal membership of all United Nations Member States.
Theme: Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals
UNEA-5.1 Due to COVID-19, the first session of UNEA-5 was held online on 22 and 23 February 2021 with a revised and streamlined agenda that focused on urgent and procedural decisions. Substantive matters that require in-depth negotiations were deferred to early 2022 (UNEA-5.2).
Australia’s National Statement stressed the importance of collective ongoing action to address key threats such as ocean litter and biodiversity loss, while at the same time continuing to work with the international community towards a sustainable recovery from the global pandemic.
UNEA-5.2 The second part of UNEA-5 took place online and in person in Nairobi on 28 February to 2 March 2022.
Over 170 countries participated in the resumed session adopting 14 resolutions and a Ministerial Declaration.
Of particular note, Australia joined with countries at the Assembly to adopt a historic resolution to establish an intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. Through the International Negotiating Committee Australia will continue to push for ambitious outcomes on plastic pollution and for the agreement to be finalised within the next 2 to 3 years.
A UNEA Special Session followed on 3 and 4 March 2022 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the UN Environment Programme in 1972.
Theme: Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production
The fourth session of UNEA was held 11 to 15 March 2019 at the United Nations Environment Programme Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya.
Under the overall theme, ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production,’ UNEA-4 addressed: Environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss; Life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management; and innovative sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change.
Theme: Towards a Pollution Free Planet
The third session of UNEA was held in Nairobi, Kenya on 4-6 December 2017. The Assembly drew more than 4,300 delegates from over 170 countries, including over 700 stakeholder representatives and 94 intergovernmental organisations.
UNEA-3 delivered commitments to end the pollution of air, land, waterways and oceans, and safely manage chemicals and waste, including a long-term programme of action. The Assembly endorsed a political declaration and 13 resolutions, including an Australian co-sponsored resolution on marine litter and microplastics.
Theme: Delivering on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
The second session of UNEA was held in Nairobi, Kenya on 23-27 May 2016. Over 2,500 delegates from 174 countries attended the meeting to discuss global environmental challenges including 123 ministerial-level participants, 230 business participants and 400 from accredited stakeholders.
The meeting culminated in Governments agreeing to 25 landmark global resolutions giving strategic direction to UNEP, including three resolutions co-sponsored by Australia on oceans and seas, marine plastic litter and microplastics, and sustainable coral reef management.