Mepielan Ebulletin

UN General Assembly Paves the Way for the Adoption of the 2022 Political Declaration on Environment

Sunday, 08 November 2020
Ambitiously enough, the U.N Member States have begun negotiating a political declaration on the environment to be adopted in 2022 and coincide with the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

In June 2017, the project Global Pact for the Environment (GPE) was launched by the French think tank Le Club des Juristes with the aim to strengthen the effectiveness of the international environmental law by synthesizing the principles outlined in the Stockholm Declaration, the World Charter for Nature, the Rio Declaration, the IUCN World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law into a legally binding international instrument under the United Nations. In May 2018, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the resolution Towards a Global Pact for the Environment (No. 72/277) and established a Working Group to identify possible gaps in international environmental law and environment-related instruments, with a view to strengthening their implementation.
This Working Group convened three substantive sessions in Nairobi in January, March and May 2019 and agreed on a number of recommendations. More specifically, the Working Group encouraged UN Member States and all members of the specialized agencies to strengthen, where needed, environmental laws, policies and regulatory frameworks at the national level. In parallel, it encouraged UN Member States and all members of the specialized agencies to mainstream environment into sectoral policies and programmes at all levels, including national development and sustainable development plans. Furthermore, the Working Group encouraged the active and meaningful engagement of all relevant stakeholders at all levels in the different forums related to the implementation of International Environmental Law (IEL) and environment-related instruments. Finally, the UNGA endorsed the afore-mentioned recommendations and forwarded them to the Committee of Permanent Representatives to UN Environmental Assembly (UNEA). Respectively the Committee of Permanent Representatives organized three informal substantive consultation meetings in order to follow up the UNGA mandate.

The first meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives was held virtually from 21 to 23 July 2020 and focused on the exchange of views on international environmental law and the preparation of the political declaration. According to the report of the meeting released on 9 August, a large majority of States stressed the importance of the Rio principles to be incorporated in the political declaration. Some states called for the declaration to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs. Also, the EU suggested that common understanding is needed on interpreting the principles of international environmental law, and Colombia and New Zealand called for stating the principles in the declaration. The Civil Society Group also supported this view agreeing on a set of principles for environmental rights. Moreover, the Africa Group and Chile preferred the declaration to focus on the means of implementation, while Turkey said that the declaration should include practical measures of implementation but no technical details. From its side, the EU called for the political declaration to include a follow-up mechanism whereas the US reaffirmed that it will oppose action to follow up on the 2019 recommendations.

Finally, it is to be noted that the second substantive consultation meeting is expected to take place in October 2020, and the third and final meeting in January 2021, with the aim of defining a framework for UNEA-5, which is expected to convene in February 2021.

Source: IISD
For further information:


Archive of International Environmental Negotiation Process News
Please subscribe to receive updates
Name: Email: