The sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) presented at the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi
GEO-6 finds that resistance from actors in other policy areas is a major reason behind the poor results of environmental measures, and concludes that to improve environmental protection, environmental policy needs to be strengthened within institutions. Global efforts must be intensified and environmental policy integrated into all sectors more effectively.
State Secretary Jochen Flasbarth stated: "An environmental policy that can hold its own is a key condition for long-term prosperity. Environmental pollution has a particularly adverse affect on human health and exacerbates social inequality. In order to tackle the causes of environmental damage effectively, we need to take environmental concerns more seriously. More investment should be made in environmentally sound projects. Only this can advance the overdue transformational change to more sustainable consumption and economic practices."
On 13 March 2019, the sixth Global Environmental Outlook assessment was presented at the fourth session of UNEA in Nairobi. Entitled "Healthy Planet Healthy People", GEO-6 takes stock of global environmental policy , identifying air pollution, biodiversity loss, the massive use of natural resources and contamination of ecosystems, especially with chemicals, as particularly critical areas that require greater efforts. The report explains that environmental policy must be integrated into all policy areas and sectors for it to be fully effective. Above all, industrialised countries like Germany need to step up and expand their efforts. In this context, the support and use of technologies and innovation, as well as high-quality education systems, play a vital role and help to develop and maintain jobs that are viable for the future.
New features of this year's report are the regional assessments that form its basis and its direct focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in the 2030 Agenda. GEO-6 points to the involvement of relevant civil society groups and people who may potentially lose out in the restructuring of economic processes as a key element for achieving the necessary transformation.
Like the last report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), GEO-6 stresses that the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the SDGs under the 2030 Agenda are achievable. The requisite measures have already been proven and are available to us. Resolute and rapid implementation of these measures will enable us to meet our climate targets and ensure a sustainable energy supply and clean air for everyone. This would also generate significant benefits and savings for participating national economies. GEO-6 finds that the positive health impacts for societies alone outweigh the anticipated costs of implementing climate action and environmental protection.
The report notes that resource use and environmental impacts must be decoupled from growth to a much greater degree. Efficient and sustainable use of resources is essential for achieving the SDGs. UNEP's International Resource Panel (IRP) states that 12 of the 17 SDGs are directly dependent on the sustainable use of natural resources. Achieving the SDGs calls for synergies between different policy areas - for instance energy, industry, agriculture and transport.
The Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) supports these issues in UNEA too, calling, for instance, for an integrated sustainability policy, a clear commitment to more sustainable public procurement and a more sustainable chemicals management.
Moreover, the BMU supports strengthening international cooperation on marine litter. It plans to allocate some of the 50 million euros earmarked for this area to the creation of a functioning waste infrastructure in Asia and Africa, two regions which account for a significant share of marine litter.
The BMU is also advocating at both national and international level that governments make their environmental policies more coherent. In this regard, the BMU is currently working on a comprehensive Climate Action Act, which sets out clear goals and responsibilities for the different economic sectors and spheres of life.
The first Global Environment Outlook was published in 1997, and the GEO is now one of the most important UNEP reports. The GEO assessments summarise our knowledge on the status of the global environment and are the joint work of 150 experts from all over the world. It is customary for GEOs to examine climate change in less detail, as the latest findings on this topic are dealt with comprehensively in the IPCC reports.
On 22 March 2019 from 11:15 am to 1:30 pm the Federal Environment Agency will give information on GEO-6 in the Federal Press Office in Berlin.