01 Jan 1970 Editorial Environmental rights and governance

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

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.

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