From 20 to 22 May 2019, States met in Nairobi for the third and last session of the Open Ended Working Group ‘Towards a Global Pact for the Environment’.
In Nairobi, the Global Pact for the Environment has suffered a serious setback
Meeting for the third and last session of the working group from 20-22 May 2019 at the UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi, States were to decide on the possibility of adopting a Global Pact for the Environment for 2020-21.
Despite the good will of a majority of delegates, the recommendations adopted by the States were ultimately very disappointing. In clear retreat from the original proposal of the co-chairs, States have opted for a simple Political Declaration in 2022 in the context of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stockholm Conference.
These recommendations constitute:
- A setback on the date: 2022, and not 2020-2021;
- Above all, a setback in terms of ambition: a simple Declaration, the content of which remains vague, and not an international, legally binding treaty that enshrines the general principles of environmental law.
A temporary failure that calls for a global surge
Part of the explanation for this failure lies in the so-called “consensus” method, which allows a small minority of countries (in this case, especially the United States, Brazil and Russia) to block an initiative that is desired by a majority of States. It should be remembered that it was a very large majority of States that adopted the Resolution of the UN General Assembly on 10 May 2018 to initiate the Nairobi negotiations: 143 states in favour / 5 states against.
The adoption of a Global Pact for the Environment is still possible. By analogy, in 2009, the failure of Copenhagen sent out a shockwave and paved the way for the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015.
For this to happen, it is necessary to launch a mobilization campaign:
- States in favour of the Pact must be more committed to ensuring the success of the project;
- Civil society (NGOs, citizens, businesses, lawyers, scientists, local authorities, etc.) must put pressure on States to adopt an ambitious text in 2022.