The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) celebrated its 50 birthday at a special session in Kenya’s capital Thursday, calling for more action worldwide to overcome climate change, biodiversity loss, and rising levels of pollution and waste.
On Wednesday, the agency passed a key resolution to start negotiating an international treaty to ban plastic pollution.
Speaking at the ceremony, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said his country would rally behind UNEP to promote conservation and sustainable development.
“UNEP has transformed into a formidable ecological consciousness for the world as it boldy championed the environment agenda. Progressively over the last 50 years, UNEP has led the world to understand the centrality of the environment in human existence, to appreciate the increased threats to the environment,” Kenyatta said.
Also in attendance were Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, and his Nigerian counterpart Muhammadu Buhari.
The historic resolution to end plastic pollution was endorsed by 175 countries. It creates an intergovernmental committee to negotiate and finalize a legally binding agreement by 2024.
Founded in 1972 following the landmark UN Conference on the Human Environment, UNEP was conceived to monitor the state of the environment, inform policy-making with science, and coordinate responses to the world’s environmental challenges.