Nairobi, Kenya — The world’s top environmental decision-making body will meet in Kenya’s capital on Monday to discuss how countries can work together to address environmental crises such as climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

The Nairobi meeting is the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly and is attended by governments, civil society groups, scientists and the private sector.

“None of us live on an island. We live on planet Earth and we are all connected,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, which is leading the process, told The Associated Press before the talks. “The only way to solve some of these problems is to talk together.”

At the meeting, member states discuss a series of draft resolutions on a variety of topics that the assembly adopts by consensus. If a proposal is adopted, the foundation is laid for countries to implement what has been agreed.

In the latest round of talks in 2022, also in Nairobi, governments adopted 14 resolutions, including creating a legally binding instrument to end global plastic pollution. Andersen described it then as the most important multilateral environmental agreement since the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

For this year’s talks, countries have submitted 20 draft resolutions for discussion, including on how best to restore degraded lands, combat dust storms and reduce the environmental impact of metal and mineral mining.

But because countries have different priorities, it is often difficult to achieve consensus on draft resolutions. However, Andersen said, overall there is “progress” on all draft resolutions for this year’s meeting, known as UNEA-6.

With this meeting’s focus on multilateralism, UNEP wants to build on previous agreements it led between governments, such as the Minamata Convention to put controls on mercury and the Montreal Protocol to heal the hole in the ozone layer, Andersen said.

Björn Beeler, international coordinator of the International Pollution Elimination Network, believes there will be slow progress on more complex issues, such as the financing of chemicals and waste.

Beeler also expects strong opposition to a draft resolution that seeks to phase out the use of highly hazardous pesticides. The draft resolution, which was presented by Ethiopia and co-sponsored by Uruguay, aims to create a global alliance of UN agencies such as UNEP, the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization.

“If this happens, it would be very significant because it would be the first time we would see a global movement on highly hazardous pesticides,” said Beeler, who is attending the talks.

UNEP expects more than 70 government ministers and 3,000 delegates to attend the talks.

“What we should expect at UNEA-6 is for decision-makers to look to the horizon, be aware of what lies ahead that could potentially harm our planet, and take preventive measures to avoid it,” Andersen said.


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By Sam