IUCN Director General’s open letter to Members ahead of UNEA5.2

Dear IUCN Members,

With the pandemic still affecting daily lives around the world, the year begins with international gatherings of importance to our Union and its mission.

mountains and field

The resumed meeting of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) will start again next week under the theme of Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals; a theme that highlights the pivotal role nature plays in our lives and in social, economic and environmental sustainable development. Immediately after, the Assembly will hold a special session to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP@50). Linked to and following from UNEP@50, in June, Sweden will host a high-level political meeting in Stockholm to mark the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm+50). IUCN will play an active role in them all.

It is my pleasure to inform you that I will be in Nairobi attending UNEA5.2 and the UNEP@50 commemorations; an IUCN delegation will also follow the discussions remotely. Among other sessions, during the Assembly I will join the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue to address Building back greener: International environmental protection and achieving the SDGs in the context of COVID-19 and UNEP@50’s Leadership Dialogue Looking forward: Achieving the 2030 Agenda for people and planet. Both dialogues are opportunities to relay key messages from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille related to a greener and healthier recovery based on the solutions that nature offers, and to emphasise our Union’s vision for the period to 2030 and beyond.

Our delegation will continue to follow the discussions, including those linked to the UNEA Resolutions, around the broad themes of: marine and plastic pollution; Nature-based Solutions; ensuring safe chemicals management; green recovery and circular economy; strengthening environmental law; deploying rights-based approaches for enhanced global environmental governance.  

In particular, IUCN strongly endorses the draft Resolution on Nature-based Solutions for supporting sustainable development proposed by the European Union, and supported by Peru, Costa Rica, Colombia and Pakistan. The definition of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) included in this draft is widely recognised and used globally by actors including governments, scientists, civil society and private sector organisations. Indeed, it is this definition that was formally adopted by IUCN’s over 1,400 Members at the IUCN Congress in Hawaii, USA in 2016. It was also used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in their joint report published in 2021.

NbS have a critical role to play in addressing societal challenges and in supporting sustainable development. Therefore, I urge all IUCN Members, and especially our State Members, to fully support the adoption of this important Resolution by the United Nations Environment Assembly.

This will give confidence to the many State and non-State actors who are already applying NbS at scale, while improving the accountability and oversight of its use by State Parties. On our part, IUCN stands ready to support the high-quality implementation of NbS, including through the application of the IUCN Global Standard for NbS, as also called for by the IUCN Congress in Marseille. The Global Standard, which is compatible with the ISEAL Alliance Code of Good Practice, provides the necessary focus on achieving impact at scale, preventing misuse, and the safeguards necessary to verify which interventions can be considered NbS. 

Sincerely,

Dr Bruno Oberle
Director General

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