Opening statement UNEA-5

The opening statement held by the President of The fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly, Mr. Sveinung Rotevatn. Date; Monday February 22.

We are meeting in unprecedented times. Together with the world, we have adapted to a new way of doing things. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has required us to embrace this technological medium to convene this session of the Assembly.

We should be proud that we are able to meet today. 151 member States are registered and connected online. It proves how seriously and important we consider the environment to be. In 2022 it will be 50 years since the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme. This meeting will also represent the start of celebrating UNEP@50 – an opportunity to look back with pride at what has been achieved, as inspiration to the global environmental agenda for the future.

Because these are indeed sobering times. Getting back on our feet after that pandemic is a real challenge we face. Getting back on track to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable is imperative.

We will not succeed unless we truly transform our relationship with our planet. So I believe that we must increase our impact at a higher scale than we are currently operating. Can we identify actions which can help us address climate change and protect biodiversity or reduce pollution at the same time? Identifying such co-benefits would allow us to increase the impact of our actions.

We are in this together, and must respond together, each doing our part. The United Nations is built on hope and solidarity, and this is no less true for UNEA. I trust that this online Environment Assembly will also motivate and inspire real action.