Last month, Nairobi served as a prominent venue for global environmental discussions during the Open-ended working group 2 (OEWG-2) Science-Policy Panel (SPP) to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution. The meeting was held from the 11-15 December 2023 at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters. NES Senior Environmental Partnerships Coordinator, Mii Herman attended the meeting.
The focal point of the meeting centered on establishing a strong science-policy panel to tackle the interconnected challenges of climate, biodiversity loss, and pollution known as the triple planetary crisis. The environmental sector is well-acquainted with the threats, consequences, and vulnerabilities associated with these interconnected planetary issues.
Many attendees comprised of members of the United Nations, UN members states, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Major groups, and various stakeholders, including World Health Organization, Women’s major group, Farmers major group and Youth Major Group.
Both UN Members, major groups and stakeholders stressed “five essentials” for the future SPP and the way forward: diligent policies and regular evaluations of them; the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; the precautionary approach; fully transparent calls for experts; and a timely dissemination of materials. The Women’s’ major group called for a comprehensive plan for inclusivity to ensure diverse perspectives in shaping the process, because the panel needs the views of women and other vulnerable groups. Furthermore, the group stressed gender-responsive results, transparency on product information, and government policies to prioritize ecosystems and human health over profit. The children and youth major group urged capacity building; balance; inclusiveness; attention to factors contributing to the vulnerability of particularly vulnerable communities; and capitalizing on youth’s knowledge of technology and innovative and cross-cutting approaches.
The Secretariat of the SPP acknowledged a collaborative spirit and the meeting was a step towards fulfilling United Nations Environment Assembly’s promise to come up with proposals to establish a panel for scientists to help all levels of policymakers base their decisions on the best available knowledge. The task now is to elevate scientific knowledge into action on the ground. Rapporteur Cyrus Mageria (Kenya), closed the OWEG -2 with the following remarks, “looking ahead to OEWG-3, we urged everyone to engage with a respectful spirit, listening to each other’s needs and being true to the OEWG mandate, in order to achieve a meaningful panel.”