World’s parliament for the environment to tackle global issues

  • For only the second time in its 44-year history, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is hosting a meeting of the world’s environment ministers, which took place at its headquarters in Nairobi.
  • The aim is for governments to agree common policies, with 21 proposed resolutions on the table for issues from illegal wildlife trade to plastic in the oceans.
  • The ministers and their deputies mulled over an environment report. This report was articulated by 1203 scientists who have compiled six separate regional reports for UNEP, together called Geo-6.

 Background

  • UNEP calls the UN Environment Assembly “the world’s de facto parliament for the environment”, but it is not a parliament with a constitutional role in a government.
  • Other UN agencies such as the World Health Organisation have ministerial meetings every year, and their decisions are to some extent binding under international law.
  • The UN only gave UNEP the power to have ministerial meetings at all in 2012 at the global environmental conference called Rio+20, so aside from this week’s meeting there has only been one other, in 2014.
  • Efforts in 2012 to give UNEP similar powers to the WHO, led by France, were defeated by the US, China and others who feared such an agency would demand more action on climate change.
  • For this week’s conference to be anything more than a talking shop, national governments, in which environment ministries are rarely powerful, must decide to stick to their resolutions.

– News Item compiled by L Sai Charan

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