The world agrees to bring our planet to a sustainable future.


After 5 days of negotiations at the 4th United Nations Environment Assembly, in Nairobi, the ministers from more than 170 State Members of the United Nations presented an audacious plan for this transformation and decided that the world needs to expedite to produce a new model of development to respect the vision stated in the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

The ministers were profoundly concerned for the increasing evidence related to the contamination of the planet, it is warmer than ever and its resources are being drained at a dangerous rhythm, and they compromised to deal with the environmental challenges through an impulse of innovative solutions and the adoption of patterns of production and sustainable consumption.

“We reaffirm that the eradication of poverty, the replacement of patterns of production and unsustainable consumption to sustainable alternatives, and the protection and management of natural resources that found the economic and social development, are the general objectives and essential requisites to a sustainable development” ministers said at a final declaration.

“We will improve the national strategies of management of resources with complete approaches and analyses of the life cycle to accomplish a low carbon consumption economy and efficient in resources” they said.

More than 4.700 delegates, including ministers of the environment, scientists, academics, entrepreneurial leaders and representatives of the civil society, reunited in Nairobi for the Assembly, the main environmental organ of the world, whose decisions establish the global agenda, in particular before the Summit about Climate of the UN in September.

Apart from compromising with the promotion of sustainable food systems through the development of agricultural resilient practices, fighting against poverty through the sustainable management of natural resources and promoting the use and exchange of environmental data, the ministers agreed to reduce significantly the plastic products of one usage.

“We will approach the damage to our ecosystems, caused by the unsustainable usage and elimination of plastic products, through the significant reduction of the plastic products only for one use in the year 2030, and we will work with the private sector to find products that are affordable and respectful to the environment” agreed.

In order to approach the serious gaps of knowledge, the ministers promised to work and produce international comparable environmental data, and at the same time, to improve systems and national technologies of monitoring. They also expressed their support for the efforts of the UN Environment to develop a global strategy of environmental data for 2025.

“The world is at a crossroads, but today we have chosen a path to follow”, said SiimKiisler, president of the forth UN Environment Assembly and minister of the Environment of Estonia. “We have decided to do things differently. We will transform the way we live, from the reduction of our dependency to plastics of one usage to the location of the sustainability in the heart of all future development. We have the innovative solutions that we need. Now, we must adopt policies that allow us to implement them”, added Kiisler.

The Assembly began with a sombre letter in light of the fateful accident of a plane from Ethiopian Airlines that was heading to Nairobi from Addis Abeba and took the life of 157 people on board, including officials from the UN and other delegates that were travelling to the meeting. In the opening ceremony, there was a minute of silence for the victims and officials also paid tribute to the work of their colleagues.

At the end of the Assembly, delegates adopted a series of non-binding resolutions, which specify the logistics to change to an unprecedented model of development.
In the resolutions it is acknowledged that a rounder global economy, in which goods may be reutilized or be destined for other purposes, and maintain the circulation for as long as possible, could contribute significantly in the sustainable consumption and production.

Other resolutions indicated that Member States could transform their economies through a sustainable public contract and urged the countries to support the measures to avoid food waste, and to develop and share better practices about the solutions of safe and energetically efficient cold chains.

It was also approached the use of incentives, including financial measures, to promote a sustainable consumption, and at the same time encouraged Member States to put an end to the consumption stimulation and unsustainable consumption.

“Our planet has reached its limits and we have to take action now. We are pleased that the world has answered here in Nairobi with the firm commitment of building a future in which the sustainability is the main objective of all the things we do”, said the temporary executive director of the UN Environment, Joyce Msuya.

“If the countries comply with the things agreed here and implement resolutions, we could make a great step towards a new global system in which we no longer grow up at the expense of nature, but we rather see the people and the planet in order to prosper together”, added Msuya.

A key aspect of the meeting was the necessity of protecting oceans and fragile ecosystems. The ministers adopted a series of resolutions about marine plastic garbage and micro plastics, including the compromise of establishing a platform of multiple parts interested in the UN Environment so as to take immediate measures towards a long-term elimination of marine garbage and micro plastics.

Other resolution urged Member States and other actors to take action in the problem of marine garbage through an approach of the lifecycle of products and the increase in the efficiency of resources.
During the Assembly, Antigua and Barbuda, Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago united in the campaign Clean Seas of the UN Environment, the biggest Alliance of the world to fight against marine plastic garbage and that now counts with the commitment of 60 countries, including 20 of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The necessity of acting with rapidity in order to deal with existing environmental challenges was outstanding in a series of exhausting reports published during the Assembly.

Among the most devastated there is the report about the Arctic, which concluded that, even if the world reduces the online emissions with the Paris Agreement, the winter temperatures in the Arctic will increase from 3 to 5°C by 2050 and from 5 to 9°C by 2080, causing great damage in the region and producing increase in the level of the sea all over the world.

Global links: a graphic view of the change in the arctic warned that the rapid thaw of the permafrost could even accelerate climate change and wreck the efforts to comply with the objective of the Paris Agreement, which is to limit the increase of the global temperature to 2°C.

Meanwhile, the 6th report named Global Environmental Perspectives, the evaluation most exhaustive and rigorous about the state of the planet, warned that millions of people could die prematurely because of the water and air pollution by 2050 unless urgent measures are taken.

The report, which was produced by 250 scientists and experts of more than 70 countries, says that the world has the science, technology and finance necessary to move forward towards a more sustainable development, but politicians, entrepreneurs and society must support that change.

The general vice secretary of the UN, Amina Mohammed, who attended the summit the last Thursday, said that the action about the unsustainable usage of resources was not an option, but a necessity.
“As member States have declared during the vibrant debates, along with the civil society, companies, scientific community and other people interested here in Nairobi: it is still possible to increase our wellness and at the same time maintain the economic increase through a smart combination of policies about weather mitigation, resources efficiency and protection of biodiversity”, said Mohammed.
As the evidence of the devastating effects of the human activity in the planet health increases, the global clamor is increasing because of a rapid answer. While the Assembly was closing down last Friday in Nairobi, hundreds of students in more than 100 countries went out to the streets as part of a movement of global protest inspired by the Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

Going to the Assembly, last Thursday, the French president Emmanuel Macron said that Young people have reasons to protest and that the world needed a push to impulse a quicker and more energetic action.

“We believe that what we need, taking into account the situation we are living in, are real laws, binding rules that can be adopted internationally. Our biosphere is facing total devastation. Humanity is threatened. We cannot simply answer with some principles that sound good, with no real impact”, said the president Macron.

The president of Kenia, Uhuru Kenyatta, also said that the world needed to take action now in order to deal with record levels of environmental degradation, food insecurity, poverty and unemployment.
“The current global statistics are pretty alarming and the expectations to future generations are dreadful, therefore, governments, communities, companies and people are demanded to take action”, said the president Kenyatta.

Translator: Camila Vicente