General Assembly Adopts Texts on Strengthening Environmental Protection, Cooperation with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation

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The General Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted resolutions today on cooperation between the United Nations system and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and on strengthening the implementation of international environmental law in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while also completing the election of Vice-Presidents for its seventy-fourth session.

Adopting the resolution titled Follow-up to the report of the ad hoc open ended working group established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 72/277, the Assembly welcomed the latest report of the working group established pursuant to resolution 72/277 of 10 May 2018 titled Towards a Global Pact for the Environment (document A/AC.289/6/Rev.2) and endorsed all its recommendations, as set out in the annex of the text.

Introducing the draft, the representative of Finland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said strengthening environmental protection and governance remains indispensable for global sustainable development. Solving such issues as climate change, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and pollution requires global cooperation and commitment by all. He said the working group had come up with several important substantive recommendations, adding that, based on the work of the next United Nations Environment Assembly, a United Nations high level meeting would hopefully agree on an ambitious political declaration.

Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces (Ecuador), President of the General Assembly, said Member States now had a set of actionable recommendations with regards to multilateral environmental frameworks and international environmental law on how to ensure they are on track to realize their shared ambitions. I count on Member States to take action based on these recommendations and to use them as a stepladder to our collective drive for greater ambition on all three dimensions of the 2030 Agenda, she said.

In an explanation of vote after the adoption, the representative of the United States said it is the governing bodies of multilateral environmental agreements which determine policies and priorities to be addressed. He added that language in the text is not to be understood as a call for increased financing from any particular country. He emphasized that the United States supports strong levels of environmental protection as a part of a balanced approach to economic growth that also fosters access to affordable and reliable energy.

Voicing satisfaction with the text's adoption, Norway's delegate said that, as indicated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in its sixth Global Environment Outlook report, current efforts are still not enough to stop the overall trajectory of climate change, loss of biodiversity and plastics pollution in the world's oceans. Effective environmental governance must be part of the solution, he said, adding that his country will work with other Member States to implement the recommendations, especially those pertaining to the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly in February 2021.

Through the draft resolution titled Cooperation between the United Nations and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (document A/73/L.106), the Assembly proposed that the specialized agencies, organizations, programmes and funds of the United Nations system cooperate with the alliance � which comprises China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan � with a view to jointly implementing programmes to achieve their goals.

It acknowledged the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's constructive role and noted its activities in such areas as strengthening peace, security and stability; countering terrorism, drug trafficking and other types of transnational crime; and promoting regional cooperation in various areas.

Emphasizing the importance of strengthening dialogue, cooperation and coordination between the two organizations, the Assembly also proposed that the Secretary-General continue to hold regular consultations with his counterpart at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation through existing inter-agency forums and formats.

Introducing the draft text, the representative of the Russian Federation, which holds the presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation for 2019 and 2020, underscored the broad support for the constructive cooperation between the United Nations and the alliance. Recalling that the General Assembly granted the organization observer status 15 years ago, he said the alliance has played a decisive role in regional affairs, adding that its member States account for half of the world's population and a quarter of global gross domestic product (GDP). Emphasizing that the organization promotes cooperation in political, economic and security spheres, among others, including measures to counter terrorism and address cross-border crimes, he urged Member States to support the text.

In other business today, the Assembly elected by acclamation Belize as a Vice-President of its seventy-fourth session, assuming a vacancy allocated to the Latin American and Caribbean States.

The President of the Assembly informed delegates that the General Committee of the Assembly for its seventy-fourth session � which opens on 17 September � will be fully constituted following the election of the Chair of the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) at a later date.

[The Assembly elected Tijjani Muhammad Bande (Nigeria) as President of its seventy-fourth session, and its other 20 Vice-Presidents, at its meeting on 4 June. (See Press Release GA/12149.)]

The Assembly will reconvene at a date and time to be announced.

Source: United Nations