Youth Environment Assembly

On the 12-13th and 18-20th of February, the United Nations Environment Programme’s Major Group for Children and Youth (UNEP MGCY) held a Youth Environment Assembly (YEA), preceding the virtual fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.1) itself which took place over the 22nd-23rd February. The YEA had over 5000 registrations and virtually gathered youth from across the globe to discuss the priorities of youth which were then delivered to all the world’s governments at UNEA 5.1.

Organised entirely by volunteers, including YEE’s Liaison Officer on Environmental Governance and UNEP MGCY European Facilitator, Cathal Swan, the YEA was an amazing success and gave the opportunity for youth to discuss priorities of certain regions and on certain topics. This included a European Consultation with Wondwosen Asnake Kibret, Policy and Partnerships Coordinator at UNEP Europe Office. There were also many sessions with expert speakers and a chance for youth to put their questions directly to some high-level national and UN individuals, including the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, ambassadors and permanent representatives for Poland, France, Italy, and the EU, the German State Secretary for the Environment, and the Swedish Ambassador in charge of UNEP’s Stockholm+50 summit.

In the closing ceremony, youth also presented outcomes of the YEA specifically to the Executive Director of UNEP and the President of UNEA 5 themselves. Over the course of the five days of the YEA, youth gathered at sessions to collectively write short intervention speeches on the important agenda items of UNEA 5.1 and the OECPR meeting that preceded it, so that the key messages of global youth would be heard by all the ministers and ambassadors present. These key messages included the need for ambitious action despite the Covid-19 pandemic, signalling strong support for the contentious issue of environmental rights, the importance of including indigenous communities in the work of UNEP and member states, and calling for a resolution on youth engagement to be passed at UNEA 5.2 in February 2022.

The UNEA is the highest decision-making body on environmental matters globally, and the virtual, first half of the fifth UNEA was then held on the 22nd-23rd. The three primary decisions on the table were all adopted, although they were all only procedural ones. The resumed session UNEA 5.2 is planned for February 2022, but civil society has called on governments to ensure that ambitious action is taken right throughout 2021 in the lead-up to it, because the environmental crisis is only accelerating.

Act #forNature, Act #WithYouth #Youth4Environment


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