Nature-based solutions were one of the main topics at the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in Nairobi. UNEA-5.2, which commenced on February 28, was convened under the theme “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” to highlight the pivotal role nature plays in sustainable development across social, economic, and environmental domains.
One of the key outcomes from the fifth session was a resolution focused on nature-based solutions with the goal of protecting, conserving, restoring as well as sustainably using and managing ecosystems. The agreement called on the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to support the implementation of such solutions, helping drive their adoption worldwide.
In light of this agreement, Inger Anderson, Executive Director of UNEP, illuminated the importance of agreeing on a universal definition of nature-based solutions to help support their use. She continued to underline that the need to scale-up adoption of these solutions is especially crucial given the recent IPCC report on the impacts of climate change, and our vulnerability to it.
Another notable achievement of UNEA-5.2 was a unanimous resolution to end plastic pollution. The deal, adopted by representatives of 175 member states, called for the establishment of a legally binding treaty to end plastic pollution by 2024. This might have implications for several sectors, including agriculture.
Last year, FAO released a report describing how the earth’s soils might be more saturated with plastics than the oceans. It called for global action to protect the world’s agricultural soils and suggested that plastic pollution can be combatted through the 6R principle: refusing, redesigning, reducing, reusing, recycling, and recovering plastics. For instance, this could involve adopting agricultural practices that avoid plastic, substituting plastic products with natural or biodegradable alternatives or improving waste management practices.
Towards nature-based practices
In total, one decision, one Ministerial Declaration, and 14 resolutions were adopted at UNEA-5.2 – including the agreement on nature-based solutions, calling for a common definition. Similarly, the need for standardised benchmarks was echoed in Farming First’s recent Dialogue, which explored the potential of nature-based solutions within agriculture to help advance progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Dialogue, held ahead of UNEA-5.2, discussed the range of promising solutions driven by agricultural innovation and implemented by farmers, focusing on four key areas: ecosystem services, sustainable land use practices, food security under a changing climate, and precision agriculture. Following the discussions, Farming First launched the #FarmingUNEA5 campaign, showcasing the takeaways from the conversations. You can get all the highlights here.