From 26 February to 1 March, the 6th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), the supreme decision-making body on environmental matters, met in Nairobi, Kenya. 193 UN Member States committed themselves to implementing effective, inclusive and sustainable actions at all levels of decision-making to combat climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. The Belgian Presidency, represented by the Federal Minister for the Environment, made this commitment on behalf of the EU and its Member States. 

Every 2 years, UN Member States meet at the headquarters of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi. As the only universal forum dedicated to the environment, UNEA is a unique platform for defining the most effective ways of responding to global environmental challenges. The Presidency delegation, led by the Federal Minister for Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal and supported by a team of experts in the fields of both environment and foreign affairs, coordinated the European position and negotiated on behalf of the EU and its Member States, together with the European Commission. 

EU delegation at UNEA-6 | © Cabinet of the  Federal Minister for Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal

A single goal for the EU: overcoming the triple crisis 

At UNEA-6, the UN member states aimed to endorse their shared commitment to reinvigorated multilateral and international cooperation to tackle the crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution in an integrated way, as well as other related challenges such as desertification, land degradation, drought and deforestation 

After a series of  difficult consultations, they endorsed a Ministerial Declaration. In addition, several resolutions were adopted, notably on ways to improve cooperation and ensure synergies in the practical implementation of environmental actions taken at all levels.

Each of these texts reflect the current state of the international community’s commitment to international collaboration, and its engagement to work with UNEP to tackle the global environmental crises. Discussions were difficult and the overall level of ambition in the outcomes was lower than what the EU had wished for. I retain from this meeting that environmental negotiations clearly do not take place in isolation. The difficult geopolitical context also impacts global environmental negotiations, putting effective multilateralism on the test".

 -  Federal Minister for Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal -

UNEA-6 | © IISD-ENB & FPS Health (BELT)

Two EU resolutions made it to the finish line 

After intense negotiations, two resolutions proposed by the EU and its members states were eventually adopted. The first resolution concerns the implementation of effective and inclusive solutions for strengthening water policies to achieve sustainable development in the context of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. It builds on the outcomes of the 2023 UN Water Conference and mandates UNEP to play an active role in the preparation of future Water conferences. 

The second one on strengthening ocean efforts to tackle the triple crisis was presented jointly with Costa Rica. It  calls on Member States, UNEP, Regional Sea Conventions and action plans secretariats to act together for the protection and conservation of our marine and coastal environment. It also encourages the ratification as early as possible of the the recently adopted “Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction” (BBNJ) agreement, and the development of a  legally binding instrument on plastic pollution currently being negotiated during the INC sessions.  

View of UNEA-6 Conference room | 

The EU had also put forward a proposal to accelerate the transition to circular economy, which did not obtain the necessary support. Because backtracking was not an option, the EU decided to withdraw its resolution proposal but made clear that transforming the linear economy into a circular one will continue to be brought up front.  The EU was also pleased to see that the concept of circularity was included in the resolution related to the sugar cane sector and the adoption of a resolution on sustainable lifestyles. 

Main outcomes of UNEA-6 

UNEA-6 also led to several achievements. To name a few: 

  • Increasing resource use is considered to be the main driver of the triple planetary crisis. This challenge requires the implementation of far-reaching and systemic shifts at an unprecedented scale and speed. The Global Resource Outlook 2024 was presented to provide governments with an integrated decision-making tool for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and those set out in international agreements. 

  • For the first time, UNEP organised a full day dialogue with the secretariats of the main multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), with a view to improving their complementarity in their efforts to combat climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. 

  • The need to accelerate the implementation of the Global Framework on Chemicals was emphasized in the Ministerial Declaration. The GFC aims to prevent or reduce the damage caused by chemicals and waste by covering all their life cycle through a multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral approach. 

Federal Minister for Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal | ©IISD-ENB

​At the end, the Federal Minister for Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal was appointed vice-president for the upcoming assembly UNEA-7 of December 2025, upholding that decision as follows:

What the world needs now is decisive, forward looking and ambitious global collaboration to preserve the health of this planet for current and future generations. I remain committed to work with all countries, as well as youth representatives, indigenous peoples, and other stakeholders worldwide, to use every occasion, at all levels of decision making, to preserve this possibility”.

-  Federal Minister for Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal -