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6th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly: Looking back

Photo credit: UNEP

What is the UN Environment Assembly?

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world's highest decision-making body concerning the environment, tasked with confronting the triple planetary crisis: climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution.  Hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEA gathers international leaders, environmental experts, and various stakeholders to set the global environmental agenda to forge the international environmental agenda, catalysing action and policy to address these critical challenges.

The sixth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) was held at the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi from 19 to 23 February 2024 under the theme of "Effective, inclusive, and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution." The Assembly concluded with the adoption of 15 resolutions targeting a broad spectrum of environmental concerns, including climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution control, and sustainable resource management. 

ReGeneration 2030 at UNEA

Photo from Natalia's personal archive

Meaningful participation of children and youth is pivotal for the success and relevance of UNEA's initiatives. UNEA-6 facilitated youth engagement through the Children and Youth Major Group (CYMG), a formal mechanism for young people to contribute to policy discussions and collaborate with other stakeholders. In addition to facilitating youth contributions to the UNEA resolutions,  CYMG self-organised the Global Youth Environment Assembly held between February 17 to 18. Its outcome was the Global Youth Declaration on Environment which was handed to the Executive Director of UNEP, Inger Andersen, on the last day of the Youth Assembly.

The ReGeneration 2030 team at UNEA was represented by our Board Member, Natalia Mrowczynska. We advocated for the key issues laid out in our Position Paper, including the need for addressing over-consumption and -production and moving to a more equitable and ecologically sustainable socio-economic system. 

This meant largely focusing on two key resolutions, i) Stepping Up Efforts to Accelerate Transitioning to Circular Economies and ii) Environmental Aspects of Minerals and Metals. Unfortunately, we only saw the latter resolution pass, with key missions on safeguarding the rights of indigenous communities, reducing raw material demand, and addressing pertinent issues around tailings management. Natalia stated, "While we were encouraged by the state of discussions at UNEA-6, especially around reducing raw material demand and the need to ensure indigenous and community rights, which suggested a growing number of stakeholders are willing to engage on this topic, we are disappointed by the omissions in the final text.”

Way Forward

Despite the growing engagement of youth in the UNEA process, UNEP has considerable room to further strengthen this involvement to ensure youth participation is not just ceremonial, but meaningfully impacts the decisions taken during the Assembly. Opportunities for the youth to contribute to UNEA could be strengthened by formally institutionalising the Youth Environment Assembly, as proposed by the Children and Youth Major Group. This would create a long-term platform for the youth to share their voice and perspectives, reinforcing UNEP's commitment to intergenerational dialogue.

ReGeneration 2030 is a democratic and youth-led organisation, mobilising youth climate activists and movements from the Nordic and Baltic Sea region. Want to join us? Fill out a volunteer application form here.


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