UN countries reached an agreement on the issue of plastic waste


Kaisa Viira

The fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, which began today, is focused on strengthening the synergy of nature and sustainable development. Estonia expects from the assembly the decision to initiate an international convention on plastic pollution and the promotion of nature-based solutions. The fifty-year anniversary of the establishment of the UNEP will also be celebrated at the assembly.


Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Minister of the Environment Erki Savisaar, who is also Vice President of the UN Environment Assembly, will take part in the assembly with pre-recorded speeches. Estonia is represented at the assembly in Nairobi by the Deputy Secretary General Kaupo Heinma.


In the two weeks before the assembly, negotiations were held in Nairobi to reach a consensus on the eighteen thematic resolutions and two high-level declarations. One of the most remarkable and influential agreements was reached in regard to the issue of global plastic pollution. Namely, based on the resolution, an international legal agreement for the significant reduction of plastic pollution – an international convention on plastic pollution – must be drafted by 2024, with the focus on circular economy, circular design, microplastics, and marine litter. Other issues agreed on include resolutions on animal welfare, chemicals and waste, circular economy, lake management, global environmental review, and nitrate management.


Negotiations are ongoing on the resolution on nature-based solutions, which was submitted by the European Union and was drawn up and is being promoted by Estonia. The resolution will create a roadmap for more efficient use of nature-based solutions in the name of sustainable development. ‘Nature-based solutions are useful in the case of many issues, such as in increasing urban biodiversity, increasing the number of pollinators, protecting shores from erosion, supplementing the reserves of groundwater, ensuring the good condition of soils, and preventing landslides. A breakthrough must be achieved in this matter,’ said the Minister of the Environment Erki Savisaar. If the negotiations end successfully, it will be the first resolution at the UN Environment Assembly suggested by Estonia.


The countries will also agree on the high-level political declaration UNEP@50, which will celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UN Environment Programme. The declaration will, among other things, focus on how to increase the efficiency of international environmental management and reinforce the UN Environment Programme. The declaration was drawn up and the negotiations were led by Estonia – this responsibility was entrusted to Ado Lõhmus in Nairobi, a specialised diplomat and Vice Chair of the Bureau of the Committee of Permanent Representatives of UN.


Estonia will also officially initiate the global Data for the Environment Alliance (DEAL) within the framework of the assembly. DEAL is an international cooperation platform which brings together governments, technology companies, and scientists to increase the availability of high-quality environmental data and strengthen the capability of environmental monitoring. Kaja Kallas, Prime Minister of Estonia, will give the opening speech at the official event for launching DEAL. The event will be attended by ministers of the environment from all over the world, as well as representatives of the UN Environment Programme, the European Commission, Google, and IBM.


The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the highest global decision-making body on environmental issues, which includes all 193 member states. Ministers of the environment of the member states will assemble in Nairobi to decide on the priorities and development directions of the environment sector.


The decisions of the UNEA are consensual decisions of the member states, which are used to highlight the most critical global environmental issues requiring solutions. Through their declaration and resolutions, the ministers of the environment issue political guidelines for further development of the sector. The activities agreed on within the framework of the UNEA are implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).




News by: Ministry of the Environment