UNEA-5.1 Special webpage

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, with a universal membership of all 193 Member States. The Assembly meets biennially in Nairobi, Kenya, to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law. Through its ministerial declaration and resolutions, the Assembly provides leadership, catalyses intergovernmental action on the environment, and contributes to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (UNEA website)

Following the agreement reached at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012, the UNEP Governing Council, which had 58 members, was restructured to include all UN member states as UNEA. UNEA was first convened in June 2014, followed by biennial meetings since. UNEA-5 was held online in February 2021. The UNEA Secretariat decided to organise the fifth session (UNEA-5) in two parts: virtually in 2021 and in-person in 2022. The first session of UNEA-5 was conducted online on 22-23 February 2021. Agenda items that require in-depth negotiations will be discussed during the in-person session of UNEA-5, which will resume in February 2022. The overall theme of UNEA-5 is "Strengthening Action for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals," which calls for enhanced action to protect and restore nature, and nature-based solutions to achieve the SDGs. It also seeks to ensure that investments in economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to sustainable development, and that member countries and stakeholders achieve a better and greener recovery.

On this page, we will introduce the background of and discussions at UNEA-5, as well as related IGES publications.

Relevant Publications

Briefing Note
The 2021 United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.1) took place on February 22-23 2021. As the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) universal-membership governing body, UNEA plays an important role in international environmental governance. Held biennially, UNEA brings together the UN’s 193 member states and other stakeholders to...
Discussion Paper
Submission to Policy Process
COVID-19 has morphed from a dangerous regional health threat to an all-consuming global pandemic and economic disaster. COVID-19’s rapid spread has had far-reaching implications on the everyday lives of people in nearly all corners of the world. In fact, as of October 2020, at least 50 million people globally have tested positive for the virus, and...
Submission to Policy Process
This submission, which includes a paper maintaining that indigenous knowledge and philosophical richness can help Asia transition to a more sustainable development paths, argues for a greater focus on looking back as countries move toward a post-pandemic future. More concretely, the paper outlines why and how countries in Asia should collaborate in...
Discussion Paper
Learning from cultural traditions and philosophies could help place countries in Asia on more sustainable development paths. This paper argues why and outlines how countries in Asia should collaborate in pooling and promoting good practices grounded in indigenous knowledge and philosophies to mainstream sustainability at the local, national...

Relevant Websites

Updated: March 2021

UNEA-4 Special webpage

The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) was held in Nairobi from 11-15 March 2019, and focused on the theme of “Innovative Solutions for Environmental Challenges and Sustainable Consumption and Production”.

Relevant Links