Nations to resolve in addressing climate change: UN official

Nairobi: UN Environment Acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya has issued a forceful call to nations for action ahead of the fourth UN Environment Assembly slated to take place here from March 11 to 15.

“Time is running short,” Msuya wrote in a letter to UN member states.

“We are past pledging and politicking. We are past commitments with little accountability. What’s at stake is life, and society, as the majority of us know it and enjoy it today.”

Citing recent UN reports, Msuya stressed the urgency of addressing climate change and other pressing global challenges.

The call comes as heads of state and environment ministers from across the globe prepare to travel to Nairobi to participate in the world’s highest-level environmental forum.

Negotiations at the UN Environment annual assembly are expected to tackle critical issues such as stopping food waste, promoting the decarbonization of economies, tackling the crisis of plastic pollution in oceans, among many other pressing challenges.

“It is time for us to truly give shape to the fundamental transformations that will be required to sustain human life — transformations in our food systems, energy systems, waste systems, economic systems — and indeed our value systems,” Msuya wrote.

She outlined five key entry points for driving the transformative changes that the planet requires: circularity, a new deal for nature, cities, clean cooling and renewable energy.

“If we are able to drive systemic change across these areas, then we will contribute to lifting people out of poverty and building a safer, healthier and more equitable world. Because by protecting the planet — as we have seen on so many occasions — we are also protecting its people.”

Seizing on the theme of the fourth UN Environment assembly, Msuya called attention to the many opportunities to be found in the shift to a more sustainable world.

“Some of the most important solutions to the climate crisis — and to biodiversity loss, and to so many other challenges — will come from innovation,” she wrote.

“And we have proof that well-crafted policies can kick-start innovation and help to diffuse critical new technologies at a pace and on a scale that would have seemed impossible just a generation ago.”

Msuya concluded the letter with a strong and direct appeal to UN member states, urging them to come to the environment assembly with courage and determination to fight for a sustainable future.

The UN Environment assembly is the world’s highest-level environmental forum, attended by heads of state, environment ministers, CEOs of multinational companies, NGOs, environmental activists, and more, to discuss and make global commitments to environmental protection.