Special Edition: COARE At UNEA-5.2

Thursday, 10 March 2022

Contents:
- UNEA-5.2
- "It Is So Decided."
- UNEP @50
- UNEP Closing Statements
- International Waste Pickers Day
- UNEA-5.2 Daily Monitor Newsletter
- Media Highlights

** UNEA-5.2

Hello fellow ocean lovers!

COARE spent the past two weeks in Kenya participating in the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) at the UN Offices in Nairobi, headquarters of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). UNEA is the world's highest-level decision making body on the environment.

We've been working with global partners to protect human, animal, and environmental health by securing a mandate for a plastics treaty that is:

  1. Legally binding
  2. Reflective of the full lifecycle of plastics
  3. Inclusive of all impacts in the environments
  4. Rooted in social justice

[Flag-lined entrance to the United Nations Offices in Nairobi]
Entrance to the United Nations Offices in Nairobi, home of the UN Environment Programme.
(photo: Sarah McQuilkin, COARE)

** "It Is So Decided."

On Wednesday, 02 March 2022, the United Nations Environment Assembly made history at UNEA-5.2 by adopting a resolution to begin negotiating a new global plastics treaty.

Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, called the endorsement by representatives of 175 member counties "the most significant global environmental governance decision since the Paris [Climate] Agreement in 2015."

Our coalition working to make this historic announcement possible includes experts from the Center for International Environmental Law, Environmental Investigation Agency, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and Break Free From Plastic, among others. We came together over the past six years with a shared dream of reducing plastic pollution at a global level. The seed of this dream started with a handful of organizations, and grew to represent all stakeholders and major groups within the United Nations Environmental Assembly. Our work together was inspiring, exhausting, powerful, emotional, and ultimately triumphant.

Each person contributed their own super powers, and together we dared to believe in a more sustainable society. We're on the path forward together and it's looking bright!

[reactions after the plastics treaty resolution was formally adopted]
Our Coalition team members reacting after the plastics treaty resolution was formally adopted in Nairobi, Kenya.
(photo: UNEP/ Cyril Villemain)

** United Nations Environment Programme 50th Anniversary

2022 marks a historic milestone of fifty years since the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which was widely seen as the first international meeting on the environment. This kickstarted the formation of environmental ministries and agencies around the world, hosting new global agreements to collectively protect the environment. Eventually, it led to the formation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Since then, UNEP has coordinated global efforts to confront the planet's biggest environmental challenges. Its global power and rigorous scientific research has served as a platform for countries to engage and advance the global environmental agenda.

To mark UNEP's 50th birthday, a year-long series of activities and outreach events are taking place, honoring and reflecting upon the significant progress achieved in global environmental matters.

[UN Environment logo - 1972–2022]

** UNEP Closing Statements

Our Executive Director, Christopher Chin, delivered the closing statement on behalf of Civil Society (all nine Major Groups and other Stakeholders) at the High-Level Closing Ceremony of the Special Session to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the UN Environment Programme.

In his statement, Christopher remarked, "We can no longer continue to put profit before planet. We can no longer continue to put profit before people. No one's convenience and no one's paycheck is more important than the health and resilience of our environment."

Watch his closing statement here, or click on the embedded video below.

[Christopher Chin delivering UNEP@50 Closing Statement]
COARE's Executive Director, Christopher Chin, delivering closing statements at the UNEP 50th anniversary in Nairobi, Kenya.
(photo: Fabienne Mclellan, OceanCare)

UNEP@50 Closing Statements

** International Waste Pickers Day

To commemorate International Waste Pickers Day on March 1st, a group of UNEA5.2 representatives from the Break Freem From Plastic coalition hosted a press conference at the Dandora dumpsite in Nairobi. Dandora is one of Africa’s largest unregulated landfills, yet many families work on and live near the site.

[Waste pickers at the Dandora dump site in Nairobi]
Waste pickers at the Dandora dump site in Nairobi
(photo: Sarah McQuilkin, COARE)

** UNEA-5.2 Daily Monitor Newsletter

Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, the United States made an official statement on 18 November that it was in support of a new treaty to "combat ocean plastic pollution."

While we are disappointed that their statement was limited in scope to "ocean plastic" and clearly does not attempt to address the full lifecycle of plastic, it is still an ENORMOUS step forward from their previous position which attempted to disrupt and derail proceedings.

We still have a lot of work to do, but we're encouraged by the progress, and excited to see that we're collectively having an affect.

** Media Highlights

The resolution received a significant amount of global media coverage. A few key articles with additional details are listed below:

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Wishing you healthy oceans,
Your friends at COARE

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