Feminists active at UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5)

Strengthening actions for nature to achieve the sustainable development goals

The feminist organisations part of our networks and the Women’s Major Group at the United Nations contributed actively to the UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA5). The assembly was divided into 2 parts, and the first session UNEA5.1 was held virtually from 9th – 23rd of February 2021. A full Environment Assembly  (UNEA  5.2) is planned for March 2022, hoping that by then the Covid-19 pandemic will have receded. The online UNEA 5.1  event was divided into 4 parts:

  1. Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF)  from 9 to 11 February
  2. Open-Ended Meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR) from 15-19 February
  3. Science Policy Business Forum from 18 to 20 February
  4. UNEA5.1 from 22 to 23 February

The UN Environment presented its global report “Making peace with nature” which received overwhelming press attention and showed that the world is facing three interlinked crises: the climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the biodiversity crisis.”.

Address impacts on women and environmental defenders

The Women’s Major Group was represented by Carmen Capriles and Frezer Yeheyis, who spoke on behalf of women’s organisations. The Women’s Major Group presented the summary of the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) to the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5): 9-11 February 2021, which can be found here. At the  Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF) Sascha Gabizon (WECF International Director) “stressed the links between UNEP’s environmental governance work and achievement of the SDGs. In addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, she called on UN Environment to address the social justice impacts on women and environmental defenders. She called for coherence across the three strategic themes of climate, biodiversity protection and halting pollution, and getting the priorities in order, first and foremost the protection of rights of environmental defenders, indigenous peoples, women and local communities, not ‘private interest holders’”.

Stop EU double standards

Patrizia Heidegger of EEB, a partner of WECF, spoke on behalf of Civil Society, during the Open-Ended Meeting of the CPR (OECPR), calling for ambitious action to ensure a global treaty against plastic pollution, as well as for a ban on all highly hazardous pesticides: it is finally time for European countries to stop with the double standards of selling banned pesticides to countries in the global South. Access Patrizia’s speech here [min. 20:19]. Access the Major Group joint statement here. In the statement is mentioned that stakeholders should use the time between now and the face-to-face meetings to address gaps identified in the Global Chemical Outlook towards achieving the 2020 goal and contribute to the 2030 Agenda. We, therefore, request a clear signal from UNEA 5.1 to the SAICM Bureau to extend the current SAICM until a new instrument is adopted.

During the closing session of the Environment Assembly, on February 23rd, Carmen Capriles delivered the Women’s Major Group Statement “focused on rights-holders priority, biodiversity and CBD, plastic pollution treaty, chemicals, heavy metals and mining, food systems and pesticides and on COVID-19 response.” Watch her intervention here [min. 2:28:06]. Download the statement here. We also recommend the statement submitted to the Leadership Dialogue which WECF helped to craft with fellow Non-Governmental Organisation, access it here.

Further governmental and stakeholder statements prepared and submitted during the 2 weeks of the UNEA 5.1.  can be found here.