The United Nations Environment Assembly gathers every two years to discuss issues related to climate change and environmental protection. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organizes the biannual event which designs policies and make recommendations to promote environmental sustainability.
In 2021, UNEA-5 was split into two sessions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. UNEA-5.1 was held virtually in February 2021 and the resumed fifth session, UNEA-5.2, takes place online and in Nairobi from February 28 – March 2, 2022.
The overall theme for UNEA-5 is “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. This highlights the pivotal role nature plays in our lives and in social, economic, and environmentally sustainable development.
Running up to UNEA 5.2 and the 50th anniversary of UNEP, the Global Business Alliance for Environment (GBA4E), members of the UNEP Business and Industry Major Group, organized a High-Level Dialogue to discuss how business can contribute to the overarching UNEA5 theme. The event centered on the theme “Business for Nature-Based Solutions”, focusing on the role and commitment of business to tackling the triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, as per the three priorities of UNEP’s Medium-Term Strategy (MTS 2022-2025) and the Synthesis Report on Making Peace with Nature.
Discussions highlighted ways in which businesses are responding to the call to transform and promote actions for nature – including decarbonization, circularity and sustainable consumption and production, among others. Opening the floor, UNEP Business and Industry Major Group Co-chair & CEO of Palmhouse Dairies Ms. Margaret Munene emphasized the need for action and the commitment of business to strengthening actions for nature to achieve the SDGs. Speaking on behalf of H.E. Espen Barth Eide, UNEA President/ Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway, Mr Gunnar Andreas Holm, Ambassador and Permanent Representative for Norway agreed that private sector involvement is crucial for a sustainable future. He added that business can contribute to green jobs, green finance, and green energy.
The high-level dialogue was broken up into five major themes and participants split up into smaller groups with the goal of:
- providing policy recommendations for upscaling innovative and sustainable business solutions;
- inspiring new partnerships, initiatives, and actions for nature; sharing ideas, discussing steps being taken, and outlining commitments to action – individually and in partnership and;
- providing a platform for interaction among private sector, permanent missions and UN senior representatives.
The five discussion themes for the session were:
- Nature for Climate
- Nature for Human Ecosystems and Health
- Nature for Pollution Action
- Nature for a Sustainable Food System
- Nature for Poverty Eradication, Jobs, and Economic Prosperity
The event served as a platform for active, substantive and recognized engagement of Business and Industry actors. It also paved the way for the private sector to participate in the implementation of nature-based solutions and in the recovery process from the global pandemic. Business is committed to strengthening actions for nature to achieve the sustainable development goals. This is being achieved through collaborative action, sharing knowledge on best practices and investments in R&D to enhance adoption of innovations and sustainable technologies. Financing is critical for all these initiatives to be scaled and be truly transformational. Business actors look forward to further engagement and collaboration during and after UNEA 5.2.