Second session of the Working Group in Nairobi

From the 18th to the 20th of March, the Open Ended Working Group ‘Towards a Global Pact for the Environment’, composed of States, NGOs and specialized agencies gathered in Nairobi for the 2nd time.

Reminder of the previous works

In January 2019, the first session had given the occasion to all participants to share their point of view on the gaps in International Environmental Law and on the different options to fill these gaps. The proposition of Pact had been greeted several times but was not the main focus of the discussion.

You can find here a more detailed article on the first session in Nairobi. 


During the week of the 11th of March, 2019 the General Assembly of the United Nations for the Environment took place in Nairobi. At this occasion, the French President Emmanuel Macron pronounced a vibrant call to the States to adopt the Global Pact for the Environment.  He greeted mobilization of youth in these terms : ‘We need the anger of our youth because it is what pushes us to go faster and stronger’. And he added, ‘That’s why I believe very deeply in the Global Pact for the Environment. We must change our international law and build the international environmental law that corresponds to this collective mobilization.’

We must build together the first international treaty for the environment which will be for the States, for the companies, for the citizens of the world, a compass.

Emmanuel Macron, Nairobi, March 14, 2019

You can find the full speech of Emmanuel Macron here.

On the 17th of March 2019, before the opening of the session, a side-event was organized with experts to discuss the Pact from a purely legal angle, moderated by Donald Kaniaru (ICEL), with Yann Aguila (lawyer, Group of International Experts for the Pact), Antonio Benjamin (Judge at the Supreme Court of Brazil, IUCN), Makane M. Mbengue (University of Geneva), Raoul Renard (International Chamber of Commerce), Maria del Mar Requena Quesada (Ph.D Environment, Human Rights and  sustainable development) and Diego Colas (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs). A broad consensus emerged on the usefulness of the Pact for clarifying and strengthening the principles of environmental law, given the existing legal uncertainties.

The session of 18-20 March 2019 At the second session of the Working Group, the Global Pact project for the environment became more central in the discussions. This session marked the passage from a previous reflection focused primarily on the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to a broader and constructive discussion on possible options to improve the effectiveness of international environmental law.

More and more countries have expressed support for the Global Pact project. Admittedly, a few countries (such as the United States or Russia) are still hostile to this project. But a consensus is gradually being built around the observation of the existence of gaps in international environmental law. With regard to solutions, a trend seems to be progressively emerging in favor of an international instrument bringing together the fundamental principles of environmental protection. Discussions began to focus on more specific issues, such as the legal form of such an instrument, or the means to ensure a good link between this instrument and existing sectoral agreements.

And after ?

The third and final substantive session of the working group will be held from the 20th to 22nd May in Nairobi. The latter will have to make recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly. To this end, the co-chairs (Mr.  Francisco António Duarte Lopes, Permanente Representative of Portugal and Ms. Amal Mudallali, Permanent Representative of Lebanon) invited the members of the Working Group to transmit their contributions by the 12 of April.

In accordance with the 100 jurists call for the Pact, it is to be hoped that the Working Group proposes to the General Assembly the adoption of a resolution which confirms the need to initiate work on possible content a Global Environment Pact and convenes an international conference for its adoption.

Photos by IISD/ENB | Mike Muzurakis find all the pictures of the 2nd substantive session on IISD website.