Green Cities

First Assembly Kicks Off with High Expectations

Today the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)—the highest-level UN body ever convened on the environment—commences in Nairobi. Over 1,300 high level participants including numerous Ministers of the Environment, chief justices, high-level government representatives, economists, and leaders from business, industry, and civil society from around the world are in attendance at this historic meeting.  UNEA will be host to plenary sessions, press conferences, media roundtables, and program launches throughout the week. UNEA touts universal membership of all 193 UN member states in addition to other stakeholder groups. Major issues on this week’s agenda include the illegal trade in wildlife, environmental rule of law, financing the Green Economy, Sustainable Development Goals, and the Post-2015 Development Agenda including sustainable consumption and production. The first UNEA session is expected to produce agreements leading to concrete actions to address the key environmental challenges discussed at UNEA. Specifically on the agenda is the launching of the UNEP South-South Trade and Green Economy Report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report, and the Rapid Response Assessment on Wildlife Trade; the signing of the European Union-UNEP Memorandum of Understanding; and the announcement of the Regional Initiative on Illegal Timber Trade. You can watch the opening session, high-level segments, and press conferences streamed live here. The UNEA session is a promising compliment to ongoing international negotiations around climate change in preparation for the upcoming 2015 climate conference in Paris. The most recent climate talks took place earlier this month and drew some 1,900 diplomats from 182 countries to Bonn to line up what their leaders will be prepared to sign onto next year to tackle emissions that U.N.-backed scientists say will cause more severe flooding, droughts, inclement storms, and sea level to rise. We at EDN excitedly await news from these ongoing diplomatic environmental channels and will continually analyze outcomes in the context of environmental activism. Author: Ben Criswell, EDN Intern