The First UN Environment Assembly, Nairobi, June 2014
The inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was held from June 23 to 27, 2014 with the attendance of UN Secretary General Mr. Bang Ki-moon. The high-level segment of UNEA discussed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and post-2015 development agenda. Mr. Tomokatsu Kitagawa, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of the Environment, called for global efforts towards a low-carbon society embracing a sound material cycle and harmony with nature.
A scene from UNEA
Bilateral meeting with Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP
Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister Mr. Kitagawa speaking at the high-level segment of UNEA
The first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) was held in Nairobi, Kenya from June 23 to 27, 2014. UNEA is the new governing body of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), after countries agreed to strengthen UNEP and extend its 58-member Governing Council to all the UN countries. 157 countries attended this memorable meeting, and representatives included Mr. Bang Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, Mr. John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly, and Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta, the President of Kenya. Japan was represented by Mr. Tomokatsu Kitagawa, Parliamentary Senior Vice-Minister of the Environment. The meeting was chaired by Ms. Oyun Sanjaasuren, Mongolia's Minister of Environment and Green Development. The 10-member bureau of UNEA including Ms. Oyun, the new UNEA President, was elected at the beginning of the meeting, replacing the former 5-member bureau of which Mr. Ryutaro Yatsu, Japanese Vice-Minister of the Environment, was a member.
The high-level segment of UNEA from June 26 to 27 discussed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and post-2015 development agenda. On this topic, Mr. Kitagawa argued for the importance of transforming the socio-economic system to achieve a low carbon society embracing a sound material cycle and harmony with nature, and of engaging in real actions such as the UN 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. He further proposed targets and indicators such as resource productivity, recycling rate, and final disposal volume. He also urged the participants to attend the UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development, to be held in Nagoya in November 2014. The discussion at this high-level segment was summarized in a ministerial outcome document adopted by UNEA, which called for an ambitious, universal, implementable and realizable post-2015 development agenda that fully integrates the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. The message from UNEA will be taken forward to the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly.
The outcome document also included a summary of the high-level dialogue on illegal trade in wildlife and UNEA decisions on specific topics such as air pollution, micro-plastic debris, integrated management of chemicals and waste, and interface between science and policy.
Taking this opportunity, several bilateral talks took place, including the second Japan-UNEP Policy Dialogue. UNEP Executive Director Mr. Achim Steiner and Mr. Kitagawa discussed the greater role of the UNEP International Environmental Technology Center in Osaka, promotion of UNEP activities on climate change such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) and Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), and the global and domestic effort to implement the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The next session of UNEA will be held from May 23 to 27, 2016.