UNEA - Second United Nations Environment Assembly:: Reports
Global Major Groups and Stakeholders forum: Ensuring impact at UNEA

How to ensure civil society’s impact during UNEA?

 

Delegates returned to Campus on Sunday 22 May morning to discuss and form their positions on each of the resolution clusters, joint statements and to produce a report in order to submit GMGSF recommendations to UNEA-2.

 

One working group underlined the central importance of stakeholder input in decision-making on cluster 2 resolutions, and in particular encouraged higher prioritisation of chemical safety and the elimination of lead in paint by governments. Members of the working group called for a legally binding instrument concerning marine plastic debris as well as an update of the London Protocol on marine pollution.

 

Another working group dealt with cluster 4 and the Stakeholder Engagement Policy. Members expressed that the current policy was for them a bottom line, and they declared that a ‘no-objection principle’ would be unacceptable and result in Major Groups and stakeholders’ rejection of the entire policy. The working group expressed concern about the absence of Principle 10 in the resolution on the Montevideo Program, and suggested language to link this program with work on rule of law in enforcing wildlife crime to ensure consistency. They also called on UNEA to stand for a minute of silence to honor the sacrifice of environmental human rights defenders, with two deaths by those fighting for the protection of natural resources occurring every week.

 

The fourth working group discussed cluster 5 and argued for the incorporation of ‘natural patrimony/heritage’ in the definition of natural capital, in the resolution ‘Sustainable and optimal management of natural capital for sustainable development and poverty eradication’, as the current definition limits it to an economic and financial valuation, which is not necessarily consistent with sustainable use. The group added some further details and recommendations on the other resolutions within the fifth cluster.

 

Delegates gathered after lunch to discuss the Major Groups and stakeholders engagement mechanisms. The pursuing discussion opened up questions about the best ways for major groups and stakeholders to participate in UNEP and UNEA, despite the cost and practicality of engagement. The final panel discussion ‘How Can the GMGSF Evolve into a Strong Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Platform?’ cemented consensus amongst panelists and audience members on the need for a more consistent and broader engagement of Major Groups and other stakeholders in UNEP and UNEA beyond, before and after biennial sessions in Nairobi.

 

The GMGSF facilitating committee closed the Forum by presenting their report on the weekend’s events, resulting ideas and recommendations, and incorporated amendments proposed from the floor in so doing. This report will be submitted to UNEA-2 and will provide the basis for any statements made from Major Groups representatives during the week’s ministerial sessions.

 

Delegates celebrated the end of the GMGSF, and anticipated the ensuing ministerial sessions during UNEA-2, at a party at the UN Recreation Centre. 

 

 

On the road to UNEA: first, civil society gathered

 

Over 200 organisations from all countries across the world attended the two days of the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) on Saturday 21 May 2016 at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, indicating that this year’s second ever UNEA will enjoy high attendance by civil society. The event prepared members of the nine Major Groups in topics that are central to UNEA-2 through six interactive discussion panels, update sessions and an open dialogue with the Executive Director, Achim Steiner.

 

The event opened with a warm welcome from co-chairs of the the Major Groups Facilitating Committee, Susana Rivero (Local Authorities) and Leida Rijnhout (NGOs), UNEP’s Deputy Director, Ibrahim Thiaw,  and the Chairperson of UNEP’s Committee of Permanent Representatives, Julia Patek, After that updates on the status of the UNEA-2 negotiations from the Secretary of Governing Bodies and each of the five Resolution Cluster representatives were presented. Whilst the drafting of some of the resolutions proved straightforward, the content of many others remains contested and will require further work during the following week.

 

The six panel discussions brought together UNEP representatives, government and expert NGOs on the hottest UNEA topics Major Groups and Stakeholders: in the first on ‘Means of Implementation and Mobilising Resources for Sustainable Investments’, speakers underlined the importance of preventing illicit financial flows and of developing domestic resources to help fund sustainable development; in the parallel session on UNEP and Principle 10, delegates expressed particular concern about the ‘no objection, silent veto’ which would hand member states a veto on prospective UNEP accreditation for major groups and stakeholders.

 

After a lunch break and an informative brownbag workshop ‘Engaging with UNEA for Newcomers’, the remaining panel discussions took place, including ‘The Role of Multi-stakeholder Partnerships in Government Implementation of the SDGs’, where the positive value and necessity of partnerships was universally agreed upon, and the role of UNEP in fostering these was discussed, such as by providing a partnerships fair or producing a best practice guidebook. During ‘Multiple Pathways to Sustainable Development’, parties lamented the limited reference to indigenous peoples in the SDGs but emphasised that indigenous communities needed to fully participate in the delivery of the agenda through ‘genuine partnerships’. In the panel on the use of science for SDG Implementation, there was consensus on the recent mutual understanding between the scientific and indigenous communities about their equivalent use of empirical approaches. The final panel on Health and Environment aroused many concerns surrounding health equity and the high costs of public health impacts.

 

The first day of the GMGSF ended with an open dialogue between Major Groups and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, who dealt with members’ questions on the role of UNEP in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the role of the private sector and many others. Delegates offered a standing ovation in recognition of his innovative and tireless term as ED, which is shortly coming to a close.

 

Delegates returned to Campus on Sunday morning to discuss and form their positions on each of the resolution clusters, joint statements and to produce a report in order to submit GMGSF recommendations to UNEA-2.

 

One working group underlined the central importance of stakeholder input in decision-making on cluster 2 resolutions, and in particular encouraged higher prioritisation of chemical safety and the elimination of lead in paint by governments. Members of the working group called for a legally binding instrument concerning marine plastic debris as well as an update of the London Protocol on marine pollution.

 

Another working group dealt with cluster 4 and the Stakeholder Engagement Policy. Members expressed that the current policy was for them a bottom line, and they declared that a ‘no-objection principle’ would be unacceptable and result in Major Groups and stakeholders’ rejection of the entire policy. The working group expressed concern about the absence of Principle 10 in the resolution on the Montevideo Program, and suggested language to link this program with work on rule of law in enforcing wildlife crime to ensure consistency. They also called on UNEA to stand for a minute of silence to honor the sacrifice of environmental human rights defenders, with two deaths by those fighting for the protection of natural resources occurring every week.

 

The fourth working group discussed cluster 5 and argued for the incorporation of ‘natural patrimony/heritage’ in the definition of natural capital, in the resolution ‘Sustainable and optimal management of natural capital for sustainable development and poverty eradication’, as the current definition limits it to an economic and financial valuation, which is not necessarily consistent with sustainable use. The group added some further details and recommendations on the other resolutions within the fifth cluster.

 

Delegates gathered after lunch to discuss the Major Groups and stakeholders engagement mechanisms. The pursuing discussion opened up questions about the best ways for major groups and stakeholders to participate in UNEP and UNEA, despite the cost and practicality of engagement. The final panel discussion ‘How Can the GMGSF Evolve into a Strong Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Platform?’ cemented consensus amongst panelists and audience members on the need for a more consistent and broader engagement of Major Groups and other stakeholders in UNEP and UNEA beyond, before and after biennial sessions in Nairobi.

 

The GMGSF facilitating committee closed the Forum by presenting their report on the weekend’s events, resulting ideas and recommendations, and incorporated amendments proposed from the floor in so doing. This report will be submitted to UNEA-2 and will provide the basis for any statements made from Major Groups representatives during the week’s ministerial sessions.

 

Delegates celebrated the end of the GMGSF, and anticipated the ensuing ministerial sessions during UNEA-2, at a party at the UN Recreation Centre. 

 

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