On Monday, 22 February, the Portuguese Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, took part in the High Level Plenary Meeting at the opening of the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5). In his opening speech, he declared that “now more than ever, it is vital to work together towards a recovery from this global humanitarian crisis that is economically and socially inclusive, one that will bring us closer to a truly green and fair transition”.
As Portugal now holds the Presidency of the Council, the Minister's speech on behalf of the European Union (EU) highlighted the need for sustainable, responsible and global responses to the changes affecting society.
“Making Peace with Nature”, the report recently presented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was also highlighted. The Minister for the Environment and Climate Action underlined the three main ideas in the document. On the one hand, the current development model is degrading the finite capacity of the planet. On the other, the inability thus far to comply with the majority of the commitments to limit environmental damage. And finally, the need for a clean break with current trends towards environmental decline, in order to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
On the position of the EU, the Portuguese Minister recalled the changes that have been seen in the economic model, which now condemns the waste of resources and puts nature on centre stage.
When speaking of the involvement of other countries in environmental issues, João Pedro Matos Fernandes highlighted the need to join forces. This is the only way for us to attain a “climate neutral, circular and efficient model in terms of resources, pursuing the commitment to international cooperation and reinforcing global environmental policies.”
The session devoted to the theme of “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” heard a recorded message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres. Sveinung Rotevatn, President of the UNEA, and Inger Andersen, President of the UNEP, also took part in the event.