UN Environment Assembly 5-1, met virtually Feb 22-23, 2021 to address the triple planetary crises of climate change, nature loss and pollution.  The meeting, with over 12,000 in attendance, including representatives of Member States, civil society and more.  The successful leadership dialogues culminated in a set of outcomes that will keep the work moving forward.

All pre-session and post-session resources including documentation and meeting recordings are available on the UNEA-5 website.  The outcomes from the meeting are available here.  All statement and video recordings are available here.  The video recordings can also be accessed through our youtube channel

Please see this video on the importance of the Human Rights approach is underscored by Dr.David Boyd, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment.

Grove Harris attended the Assembly, through partnership with Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion y Reconstruccion (SERR), an NGO accredited to UNEP, and drafted the following contribution to the proceedings, in collaboration with President Cheryl Desmond. 

February 23, 2021

Dear UNEP Civil Society Unit,

I write as the Board President of Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion y Reconstruccion (SERR), an NGO accredited to UNEP.  Thank you for providing this portal for our written statement; we are deeply concerned about the shrinking space for civil society voices.  The work that UNEP has in front of it for this year is critical to the survival of the human race, through work on bio-diversity, climate change, the oceans, marine plastics and a binding treaty, and as the leading authority on the transition to planetary care and human beings planet-friendly-wise and sustainable consumption.  We are keenly concerned about the ‘green washing’ by some member states, rather than clear admission by all member states of the extremity of the climate emergency and participation in the problem.  Without such admission, it is hard to become part of the solution, which is urgently needed. 

We are in full support of Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres Call for Peace with Nature, hope that member states will align behind this vision, including stopping military conflict, and shifting military investments into the health of people, the environment, nature and the planet rather than destruction in the quest for power.

We ask for vigilance around human rights as a centerpiece of the UN’s work that needs to be manifested in the environmental work and in every country’s shift towards sustainability. 

We call out the need for decolonization and the avoidance of privatization of global human services through corporatization and neoliberalism with the understanding that countries that have been hobbled in economic and other subservience to more powerful countries must receive economic freedom for self determination, rather than ongoing enslavement to debt. 

Extractive industries must be taken to task and pressured to fund the circulating economies needed to remake humane and sustainable relationships amongst all peoples and to end their harm to nature and to ensure the health of all peoples and nature.

We affirm the urgent need for regenerative farming, with particularly local emphasis, as it is clear that food security and food sovereignty and health are not delivered by industrial agriculture; exactly the opposite is true and in the wake of COVID-19 this need for localized organic food supply chains and respectful and healthy conditions for essential workers in the food services are even more clear.

Clearly, Indigenous peoples have intimate relationships with land, water, and air from which we urgently need to learn, with deep respect.  Respect for all peoples, animals, land, water, and air is crucial for the regeneration we must have to survive as a species. 

We align with the Statements of the Women’s Major Group among others, and wish to convey our thoughts in our own right.

We will be with you for the immense work ahead.

Cheryl T. Desmond
Board President, Servicios Ecumenicos para Reconciliacion y Reconstruccion – SERR

SERR is a United Nations ECOSOC accredited, U.S. 501(c)3, that sponsors & lends support to programs that build a culture of peace, promote social and economic justice, and address issues of environmental sustainability.



Share This