02 Jun 2020

Venue: Live | Webex Event & Facebook

Organization: Geneva Environment Network

The Act #ForNature forum is the first global consultation in support of the 5th Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya in February 2021. The forum will be convened virtually, from 7 to 10 June 2020, under the leadership of Sveinung Rotevatn, President of the UN Environment Assembly and Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway, and Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme.

About the GENeva Environment Dialogues

The GENeva Environment Dialogues’ special COVID-19 series discusses the impacts of the pandemic on the global environmental agenda. Experts are concerned that the world is losing critical time to turn around alarming trends in biodiversity loss, climate change, sound management of chemicals and other environmental threats.

The series addresses the following topics:

  • The impact of the crisis on the invited organization activities
  • The response of the invited organization to the COVID-19 crisis
  • The impacts on the preparations of the conferences and negotiations they are hosting
  • New schedules and programmes for these conferences and negotiations

About the Act #ForNature virtual preparatory forum for UNEA-5 (7-10 June 2020, Oslo)

2020 marks the beginning of the decade of action. This super year for nature was derailed by the COVID-19 outbreak, but the urgency to act #forNature has not diminished. How can we strengthen actions for nature to achieve the sustainable development goals in light of this global pandemic?

Major Groups and Stakeholders International Consultation (7 June)

A virtual consultation of Major Groups and stakeholders on 7 June 2020 is a preparatory meeting to ensure an impactful outcome from the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) taking place next year and will center around the following themes:

  • Health and Environment: What a post-pandemic recovery looks like
  • Tackling Ocean Pollution Ecosystem Restoration, Biodiversity, and Development
  • Involvement and Implementation

The output of the consultation will be handed over to the Bureau of the UNEA and the Committee of Permanent Representatives.

The consultation is the first event of the week-long Oslo Act #forNature Global Forum that includes Townhalls and the Preparatory Retreat for the UNEA Bureau.

Global Townhalls (8-10 June)

The MGS consultation will be followed by so called “Global Townhalls” on June 8 to 10, with the following themes:

  • Townhall 1: Healthy ecosystems for healthy people: limiting the impact and future emergence of zoonotic diseases
  • Townhall 2: Adapt to Thrive: transformational change for nature and business
  • Townhall 3. Turning the Tide on Marine Plastics: How UNEA-5 can be a turning point
  • Townhall 4. Connecting People and Nature:  transforming the global food system
  • Townhall 5. Youth Voices for Nature: Environmental Governance in the Time of Covid-19 ( organized by the Children and Youth Major Group)

UNEP CPR and UNEA Bureau Retreat (9-10 June)

On June 9 and 10, the Bureau of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to UNEP (CPR) and the UNEA Bureau will meet for a retreat. Prior to that, on June 9, there will be a joint virtual session of representatives of MGS and the UNEA and CPR Bureaus, allowing for Major Groups to share the outcomes of the consultations on June 7 with member states.


Facilitators: GEN Team


Policy and Partnerships Coordinator, Europe Office, UN Environment Programme


Deputy Director, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway


Policy Advisor, The Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment


Director, Governance Affairs Office, UN Environment Programme



Moderation: Diana Rizzolio, Geneva Environment Network

The COVID-19 pandemic is a health crisis that affects everyone, and that has an important economic impact on top of the human suffering caused by the disease itself.  There is a large response from the UN system and from other actors to this crisis, including on the global environmental agenda.

The Secretary General of the United Nations refers to the COVID-19 pandemic as “an unprecedented wake-up call”. The pandemic is resulting in major economic and political shifts around the globe which are giving the international community a unique window of opportunity in which recovery plans can be instrumental in creating a more sustainable and resilient future. The pandemic has also shown how human health is intimately connected to the natural world. As we recover, we must build back better for people and for the planet.

The Secretary General keeps also reminding us that we have a framework for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Today we are discussing the Act For Nature Forum, initially scheduled to take place physically in Oslo, and now going virtual. At the end of this week, from Sunday 7 June and up to Wednesday 10 June, the Act #ForNature Global Online Forum will bring together citizens, government and non-governmental organizations, businesses and scientific institutions from around the globe to engage in a series of open and inclusive discussions across a diverse range of topics that our guests this morning will present.

The Forum will build on the momentum created by World Environment Day which we are celebrating this Friday 5 June –a day of collective, worldwide environmental action.

The forum is part of the preparatory process for the 5th session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

The forum will be led by the UNEA President, the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn and UN Environment Programme Executive Director, Inger Andersen.

Act #ForNature virtual preparatory forum for UNEA-5 (7-10 June 2020, Oslo)

Wondy Asnake, Policy and Partnership Coordinator, UNEP Europe Office

  • UNEA-5 theme is “Strengthening action for nature”, particularly related to:
    • How do we recover from the pandemic?
    • How do we make sure to achieve the SDGs?
  • Global Virtual Townhall – 5 specific topics to discuss:
    • Heathy ecosystems for healthy people
      • Limiting the impact and the future emergence of zoonotic diseases
      • Importance of the environmental dimension of health
      • Steps to prevent the emergence of new zoonotic diseases in the future
    • Business and nature
      • Adapting to thrive
      • Transformative change for nature and business
      • What is the role of the business community in terms of driving the change for nature?
    • Turning the tide on marine litter
      • How to drive investments to protect marine ecosystems?
      • What are the actions that individuals can take in order to turn the tide on marine litter?
    • Connecting people and nature
      • Transforming global food systems
      • Issue of food security
      • Broader theme of actions needed to make the food system more sustainable
    • Youth voices for nature
      • Role of the youth in environmental governance, particularly in the COVID-19 era
      • How we make sure that the youth is included in the achievement of the SDGs, in sustainable development?
      • Need for greater inclusivity
      • Impact of COVID-19 on the future of the youth – employment, education, sustainability, health

Torstein Lindstad, Deputy Director, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway

  • Norway is the Presidency of UNEA-5
  • Act for Nature forum goes online as a global online forum live from Oslo and Nairobi – exciting event
  • This event will be a good preparation before UNEA-5
  • The President is the Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment
  • Message from UNEA Bureau has been clear: keep up the momentum on environmental challenges in spite of changing circumstances
  • Platform to have joint responses on the challenges
  • Agree on actions that will be pursued
  • Theme of UNEA-5: strengthening actions for nature to achieve the SDGs
  • 2020 was supposed to be super year for nature, but the decision process has been postponed
  • UNEA-5 pointing out the agenda for nature and building up for the events of 2021
  • High expectations from the CBD COP15 in Kunming, China, that will adopt the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework
  • 3 transformative actions to focus on at UNEA-5:
    • Green recovery
    • Healthy ecosystems and healthy people
    • Transformation of the global food systems

Jorge Laguna, Governing Bodies Director, UNEP

  • Register! Be part of this event
  • Act #ForNature forum – part of UNEP’s response strategy for the post-pandemic
  • 4 pillars:
    • Importance of medical emergency phase
      • Providing tools and resources to healthcare systems
      • Ensuring no one is left behind in the protection from the pandemic
      • Important to deal with the problem of medical waste
    • Addressing the natural and intimate relation between nature and human health
      • Understanding zoonotic diseases and the impact that they have
      • How can working with nature help us control and reduce these diseases in the future?
    • Supporting green recovery
      • Support sustainable development
      • Need to make the case to governments, businesses, communities
      • Sustainable food systems + sustainable business models
    • Imperative of modernizing global diplomacy
      • Environmental governance needs to reduce its environmental footprint
      • Fairer ways of conducting environmental governance – more inclusion
    • Looking forward to work and engage stakeholders in the Act #ForNature forum

Ingrid Rostad, Policy Advisor, The Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment

  • Civil society network with more than 50 Norwegian civil society organizations as members
  • Local partner for major groups and stakeholders’ consultations in Oslo, then digital global consultation
  • Facilitating dialogue between different stakeholders is more important than ever
  • Major groups and stakeholders’ consultations will circle around the same topics as the rest of the global forum, with a focus on how to move forward in a as constructive way as possible
  • Kickstart for the super year for nature
  • Several panel discussions with experts and representatives of stakeholders
    • Tackling ocean pollution
      • How can an international agreement on stopping plastic pollution can be effective and inclusive?
    • Health and environment
      • How should the post-pandemic recovery look like?
      • How can we prevent future pandemics?
      • What is the role of workers and trade unions in the recovery?
    • The role of youth
      • Youth involvement is powerful
      • Non-negligeable part of the population
    • Restoration, biodiversity and development
      • How can we have development in harmony with nature?
      • Focus on human rights, indigenous knowledge, gender equality and community-based initiatives
      • Highlight the positive examples
    • Road to Stockholm+50 and achieving the SDGs
      • How to ensure meaningful involvement and successful implementation?
      • How can major groups and stakeholders be actors in ensuring efficient implementation?
      • How can we facilitate meaningful involvement of all important actors?
    • How to advance the outcomes of this consultation?
  • Facilitating the involvement of civil society is essential, as we have reports from partner organizations saying that the space for civil society is shrinking in many instances



Is UNEP considering going virtual for UNEA-5, in light of the pandemic?

Yves Lador, Earthjustice Representative in Geneva

Today more and more environmental defenders are under attack. Impossible to have any serious progress if those who are trying to improve the situation of the environement are under threat. How will UNEA5 tackle this issue and change State and business acts


How can we register in the consultation meetings?


What format will the Oslo forum outcome have? Declaration, report, else?


Ulf Bjornholm, Governing Bodies Deputy Director, UNEP

  • UNEA-5 looking to be prepared for all eventualities, included the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic continues
  • We are learning how to host and organize UN meetings online
  • Too far away in the future to speculate on what UNEA-5 will look like – many possibilities: face-to-face, hybrid, virtual
  • Challenges for virtual meetings:
    • How do you ensure interpretation?
    • How do you ensure member states are correctly represented and accredited?
    • How do you conduct negotiations?

Torstein Lindstad, Deputy Director, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway

  • Working closely with UNEP
  • Complicated situation, we do not know the situation in February 2021
  • Managed to set up the global forum, with the same schedule
  • See how the situation unfold in summer and autumn, then decide

Torstein Lindstad, Deputy Director, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway

  • The issue of environmental defenders is high on the agenda of UNEA-5

Ulf Bjornholm, Governing Bodies Deputy Director, UNEP

  • Possibly part of the political declaration, possibly subject of a resolution, but it depends on member states
  • UNEP would be behind such initiatives
  • Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, has taken a strong stand on the issue

Wondy Asnake, Policy and Partnership Coordinator, UNEP Europe Office

  • UNEP has put in place an environmental defenders’ policy, shared by UN agencies and human rights’ organizations
  • We should continue to use it and it comes handy when we speak of environmental defenders

Ulf Bjornholm, Governing Bodies Deputy Director, UNEP

  • Several parts:
    • Bureau of the Assembly and Committee of the Permanent Representative
      • Formal summary available for everyone
    • Closed meetings and dialogues with Bureau members
    • Townhalls
      • Open meetings, some form of summary for each of them
      • Available live and possibility to rewatch them

Torstein Lindstad, Deputy Director, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway

  • UNEA President – call for inputs on the ministerial declaration
  • Use town hall and stakeholders’ forums to discuss the different themes included in the ministerial declaration
  • Main task for the meeting
  • No single outcome documents
  • Dialogues between bureau and stakeholders
  • Bureaux will take part in townhalls

Ingrid Rostad, Policy Advisor, The Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment

  • One of the key measures – registration of interest
  • Balanced intake of accepted participants
  • Mobilizing for the consultation
  • Follow up with major groups so that representatives from major groups are present
  • Buffer quota present as well, in case there is the need to balance proportion
  • Ask for written declarations to communicate perspective on major themes

Ulf Bjornholm, Governing Bodies Deputy Director, UNEP

  • Important parts and components of UNEA preparations
  • Major groups and stakeholders have essential role to provide concrete inputs to the Secretariat and to member states
  • Richest possible outcome from UNEA-5
  • Largely self-organized – with support from the Secretariat

Closing remarks

Torstein Lindstad, Deputy Director, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway

  • Register for the event!
  • Major milestone towards UNEA-5
  • Good opportunity to connect whole world on important world
  • Include COVID-19 in the environmental dialogues happening



The event was live on Facebook.