The United Nations Environmental Assembly
The United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) has the most decision-making-power regarding environmental issues in the United Nations (UN). It was founded in 2012 as an overhaul of the UN Environment Committee, following a call by the Member States for more climate action. UNEA was again strengthened by the UN in 2015 during the Paris Agreement and is now responsible for the enforcement of the Agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals. It is located in Nairobi, where the assembly meets every two years.
The Programme by UNEA, the UNEP, is guided by the sustainable development goals and addresses numerous important topics related to the environment. The topics relate to broad categories: climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, chemicals and waste, resource efficiency and the UNEA operates within these categories. The newest Special Report Global warming of 1,5°C by the IPPC puts increasing pressure on states and multilateral institutions such as the UNEA to tackle climate change, as many problems the UN is faced with are directly or indirectly bound to climate change.
Supporting Sustainable Energy Development in the Combat Against Climate Change
At the moment around 80% of the global energy consumption is produced using fossil fuels. To fulfill the Paris Agreement and sustain a global warming not greater than 1,5°C, it is unavoidable to shift the energy production to renewable alternatives, as 60% of the emitted global greenhouse gases are emitted by the energy sector. The newest report of the IPCC warns of an increase to the said 1,5°C in 2030, ten years earlier than expected. This calls for action to change the global energy production faster than anticipated. Looking at the global numbers of energy production and greenhouse gas emissions, the global north accounts for an unproportionally high amount, the global south for an unproportionally low amount, this is directly bound to the level of industrial development and wealth distribution. In addition, the countries of the global south are the most affected by climate change and the consequences, with a yearly addition of around 20 million people classified as climate refugees and an increase to 140-200 million people till 2040. To ensure that developing countries can maintain a sustainable development without staying behind the industrialized countries of the north, a global approach is needed. Especially the supply with renewable energy production capabilities faces some problems, as the required high technology industry and trained specialists for maintenance are settled in the richer countries and fossil fuels are often an easier and cheaper option for poor societies, as renewable energy production currently means higher initital cost. Further there are global player whose interest it is to maintain a fossil fuel industry to gain profits and maintain their global influence. Adding on top of that, high populated areas will not be able to produce all their needed energy by themselves, so a global system of energy production might be needed to tackle the 100% mark of renewable energy.
Ensuring Safe Access to Clean Water in Crisis Situations
The climate is changing, and the world is nearing a climate catastrophe. Due to unsustainable agriculture or an unsustainable lifestyle, water has become a scarce resource in some parts of the world, most of the time in the global south. Some are more affected by this scarcity than others, an estimated two billion people do not have access to clean water. This year’s UNEA will look more closely at the most vulnerable affected by unsafe access to water. People after climate catastrophes or in conflict situations are affected greatly by unclean water, by limited water sources and can be confronted with dangerous situations while trying to get a hold of water. Water is the most important resource for life and that is why it is important to ensure safe access to clean water, especially in these exacerbating circumstances. The right to water was declared a human right in 2010, therefore it is important to discuss what can be done in order to ensure the access to clean water and sanitation for everyone. Most vulnerable are refugees living in camps, disabled people, children, and people with special sanitary needs, for example people getting their period.