Civil society from all over the world gathered online to demand a just and sustainable COVID-19 recovery

Today civil society representatives from all over the world have participated in the global talks on the environment. Here Teresa Oberhauser, representative from the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth.

Civil society from all over the world gathered online to demand a just and sustainable COVID-19 recovery

Today more than 350 civil society representatives from all over the world gathered for the largest global digital consultation ever held on environment. Together the participants discussed the post-pandemic recovery, and how to advance human development in harmony with nature.

Build back better, build back greener

The need to build back better from COVID-19 was a key message throughout the consultation. In her opening speech, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, Inger Andersen, emphasized that even if we now have seen some temporary improvement in the environment due to the lockdown, climate change and environmental degradation are not temporary problems, and need to be tackled long term.

- We have to build back better, build back greener, and the road map is the UN Environmental Assembly, The Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development goals. If we have learnt anything from COVID-19, is it that we can work together. Let us now use this opportunity to go green, and let us make change happen together, Andersen appealed.

No just and sustainable future without civil society

A consequence of the restrictions to slow the spread of the pandemic, is that many international processes to ensure progress towards a sustainable future are postponed and slowed. The restrictions are also shrinking the space for social leaders and civil society to participate, get information and raise their voices.

If the global post pandemic recovery is going to be just and sustainable, it is crucial that stakeholders and civil society are involved. That was the message from the chair of Major Groups at UN Environment Programme, Dr. Mohamed Abdelraouf live from Kairo.

- Human development has to advance together with nature, and we now need a green recovery. Conversations as this is important to move to action. We must act together to handle the global environmental problems the world is facing, said Dr. Mohamed Abdelraouf, Chair of Major Groups at UN Environment Programme.

The online consultation was organized by the Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development (ForUM), UNEP and the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment. The director of ForUM, Kathrine Sund-Henriksen, is happy with the great engagement from the participants in the consultation.

- This online consultation has been an important and innovative global collaboration for a better future. Today, people from all over the world shared their perspectives and stories, and the message from all over the world was clear: We, the people, are ready to act and adjust to a new and sustainable future. It is now time for leaders to take action, Sund-Henriksen said.

"There is no going back to business as usual”

The urgent need to create a new normal was another key message throughout the day. Hadia Sheerazi, student at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy and a representative of United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, was one of the speakers who emphasized the importance of not going back to business as usual. She also called for a better inclusion of youth in the recovery process.

- There is no going back to business as usual. Business as usual was not working. The global pandemic is a clear call for us to look deep down and find the best of us. It is time to build the future we, the youth will inherit. Youth are not just a stakeholder group. We are the future, Sheerazi said, live from New York.

Civil society urges decision makers to take ambitious action

As an outcome of today`s consultation, civil society and stakeholder groups will formulate demands to the decision makers responsible for taking the world closer to the Sustainable Goals, Paris Agreement and the Environmental Assembly.

Tuesday the environmental ministers un the UNEA Buereau will recieve the input from civil society and stakeholders.

In his opening remarks, Sveinung Rotevatn, UNEA5 President and Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, said that the key messages and priorities from today`s conversations will be vital inputs for him and the UNEA Bureau.

- When it comes to your role as stakeholders, this is very important. You are all important voices which we need to hear. Each group has important insights to provide, and we need continuous reality checks from your different parts of the world, the president of the fifht environmental assembly stated

In the closing session, civil society and stakeholders gathered to discuss the strategic road forward. They all demand ambitious action for a just, inclusive and sustainable world, with decend and green jobs, sustainable industries and a society in harmony with nature.

Watch the public panel discussions here

Act ForNature Global Online Forum - Sunday June 7th 2020 from Tappin AS on Vimeo.


12:00 - 12:25: Opening session

  • Sveinung Rotevatn, UNEA President and Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment
  • Inger Andersen, Under Secretary-General of the UN and UNEP Executive Director
  • Dr. Mohamed Abdelraouf, Major Group Chair

12:30 - 13:00: Tackling Ocean Pollution

  • Jane Patton, Senior Campaigner with the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
  • Eirik Lindebjerg, Global Plastics Policy Manager at World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)
  • Amayo Passy Ogolla, Programme Officer for Sustainable Energy Futures Programme at the Society for International Development (SID)

13:45 -14:15: Health and Environment: What a post-pandemic recovery looks like

  • Philip Lymbery, Global Chief Executive Officer at Compassion in World Farming, Visiting Professor at the University of Winchester and Vice-President of Eurogroup for Animals, Brussels
  • Hadia Sheerazi, fra the Carbon Management Research Initiative (CaMRI) at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy
  • Francis Kim Upgi, director, Economic and Social Policy at The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Asia-Pacific

15:00 - 15:30: Ecosystem Restoration, Biodiversity, and Development: How can we have development in harmony with nature?

  • Isis Alvarez, livestock campaign coordinator with the Global Forest Coalition, addressing gender aspects in forest management
  • Rodion Sulyandziga, Focal point for UN Major Group for Indigenous Peoples. Rodion Sulyandziga is the Russian Far East-Director of the Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), and co-chair of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC).
  • Noelene Nabulivou, co-founder and political advisor for Diverse Voices and Action for Equality (DIVA). She is an activist and spokesperson on climate change, sustainable development, and gender equality.

16:15 - 16:45: Road to Stockholm+50, UNEP@50 and achieving the SDGs: Involvement and implementation

  • Jan-Gustav Strandenæs, senior advisor at Stakeholder Forum. Jan-Gustav has played an active role in UNEPprocesses for 50+ years
  • Neth Daño, Co-Executive Director of the ETC group (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration).
  • Yugratna Srivastava, Focal point, UN Major Group for Children and Youth. Yugratna Srivastava works to engage young people, in the design, implementation, monitoring, follow-up, and review of sustainable development policies at all levels

19:15 - 20:15: Plenary session: Taking the work forward: How to advance the outcomes of the consultation towards UNEA 5 and beyond in a strategic manner?

  • One representative from each major group present the main points from their group sessions