Cook Islands attends the 6th United Nations Environment Assembly 

The Hon. Tereapii Kavana delivered a number of speeches at the Blue Pacific Strategy 2050 side event, the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) to End Plastic Pollution Ministerial meeting, and a meeting between the UNEP Executive Director and the Pacific Small Islands Developing States.
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Over 5,000 delegates attended the Sixth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) in Nairobi, Kenya in late February to early March 2024, as the world’s top decision-making body on the environment. Honourable Tereapii Kavana, Associate Minister for the National Environment Service (NES) and NES Director Halatoa Fua, represented the Cook Islands.

UNEA-6 President Leila Benali of Morocco, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Inger Andersen, opened the Assembly by highlighting the major conflicts currently happening are having serious impacts on the environment. The leaders called for member states to unite in their efforts to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, by transcending our political differences.

After a long week of negotiations at UNEA-6 and in the previous week during the Committee of the Permanent Representatives meeting, the UNEA-6 successfully adopted fifteen resolutions and two decisions at the end of the meeting. Some of the key resolutions were based on strengthening the control of highly hazardous pesticides, strengthening water policies to achieve sustainable development, halt land degradation and increase ecosystem and communities’ resilience to drought, and strengthening ocean and seas governance to tackle climate change, marine biodiversity loss and pollution. There were some resolutions withdrawn due to diverging positions of member states, including a proposed resolution for solar radiation modification.

A ministerial statement was adopted by the parties on a range of different environmental issues, including the reinforcement of UNEA’s commitment for a legally binding international instrument to address the full lifecycle of plastics and end plastic pollution. Some member states intervened with explanations of their opposition to the resolutions, including disagreements on the removal of common but differentiated responsibilities in the reference to the principles under the Rio Declaration.

The Hon. Tereapii Kavana delivered a number of speeches at the Blue Pacific Strategy 2050 side event, the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) to End Plastic Pollution Ministerial meeting, and a meeting between the UNEP Executive Director and the Pacific Small Islands Developing States. The Minister stated at the HAC Ministerial meeting ‘as a minister and member state, we stand ready to use all available opportunities to engage bilaterally with countries around the world to find solutions and ensure an ambitious agreement that reflects the mandate of Resolution 5/14 for a legally binding international instrument to end plastic pollution’.

Halatoa Fua reflected on the assembly and stated ‘UNEA-6 proves to be a useful platform for all member states including the Cook Islands, to participate in the development of multilateral environment agreements and the interface of science, policy and innovation. The High Level Dialogue and Multi Stakeholder event brought many voices and ideas, from member states, civil societies and the science and business coalitions, to advocate for environmental sustainability and address the triple planetary crises.

The UNEA-6 draft report, resolutions & decisions, and the ministerial statement can be obtained from the UNEA website https://resolutions.unep.org/resolutions/?q=unea6.

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About Nes

The National Environment Service is established to protect, conserve and ensure the Cook Islands environment is managed sustainably. The agency is headed by a Director with delegated powers to carry out the functions of the Environment Act 2003.

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