United Nations Environment Assembly and
Committee of Permanent Representatives
The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the global governing body on environmental matters. This highest-ranking platform of intergovernmental negotiations on environmental topics meets every two years in Nairobi, Kenya. The UNEA is characterised by universal membership and comprises 193 Member States. Furthermore, it governs the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), one of the biggest institutions within the UN system. In Between the biennial meetings of the UNEA, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) meets every 2 months in order to prepare the negotiations.
UNEA’s crucial steering role in the field of environmental governance is implemented through ministerial declarations and resolutions. The predecessor of the UNEA was the Governing Council of the UN Environment Programme.
UNEA I - V
The first UNEA adopted resolutions with crucial decisions on how to tackle illegal trade in wildlife and air quality. It further outlined the environmental rule of law, financing the Green Economy, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the implementation of the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The second UNEA discussed issues of human interaction with the environment including actions on the SDGs, GEO-6 assessment and interdisciplinary issues linked to the science-policy interface and its respective preparatory conference.
The third UNEA considered the overarching theme of pollution. Outcomes of the session included a political declaration on pollution, linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); resolutions and decisions adopted by Member States to address specific dimensions of pollution; voluntary commitments by governments, private sector entities and civil society organizations to clean up the planet; and the Clean Planet Pledge, a collection of individual commitments to take personal action to end pollution in all its forms. In addition to the Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives (OECPR) from 29 November to 1 December, UNEA-3 was preceded by the following meetings: 27–28 November, Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum; Science Policy Forum; and 4–6 December 2017, Sustainable Innovation Expo.
The fourth UNEA was under the overall theme, ‘Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production,’ UNEA-4 addressed: Environmental challenges related to poverty and natural resources management, including sustainable food systems, food security and halting biodiversity loss; Life-cycle approaches to resource efficiency, energy, chemicals and waste management; and innovative sustainable business development at a time of rapid technological change.
Youth Engagement at UNEA's and CPRs
UNEP MGCY is the official participation mechanism for children and youth and children-/ and youth-led organisations in the UNEA and CPR negotiations. Practically speaking this means that UNEP MGCY creates working groups on leading topics of the UNEA and consults children and youth globally in order to assess their opinion on the topics negotiated. These positions are then transformed into position papers which are submitted to the member states as well as oral interventions during the negotiations. UNEP MGCY prepares negotiations internally and sends a group of representatives to UNEA and most CPR and CPR Subcommittee meetings in order to represent children and youth voices.
Past activities of youth engagement started with the TUNZA project, a 10-year programme of UNEP for the engagement of children and youth. Since the creation of the Major Groups of Stakeholders as UNEP's main engagement mechanism, Children and Youth organisations have been represented more continuously through this framework. The attendance and engagement of children has increased and broadened from year to year.