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Minister Siim Kiisler becomes first Estonian to lead UN Environment Assembly


Environment Estonia’s Minister for the Environment, Mr Siim Kiisler, was elected next President of United Nations Environment Assembly, making him the first Estonian to lead a UN environmental body.

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), convening biennially in Nairobi, Kenya, is the the world's highest-level decision-making body on the environment. As the President of UNEA, Minister Kiisler shall be responsible for preparing strategic and globally important environmental decisions. The newly elected president will also preside over the next UNEA meeting to be held in March 2019.

"I believe that the main reason why Estonia was given this honour is because of our excellent track-record as the current holder of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), especially considering the outstanding work done by our experts in representing the EU at this year’s UNEA meeting," commented Minister Kiisler.

The outgoing UNEA President and Costa Rica’s Minister for the Environment, Mr Edgar Gutiérrez, who officially handed over the presidency to Minister Kiisler in Nairobi said, "I am happy that Estonia is taking over the presidency because I know that Estonia has – not only a great minister – but also a great team behind him. This task calls for an outstanding team, and I'm confident Estonia is going to do a great job for UNEA."

Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director-General of the European Commission's Environment Directorate, congratulated the incoming president by saying, "I am glad that a EU member state was granted this privilege, and I am convinced that under Estonian leadership the UNEA is in great hands."

This year’s UN Environment Assembly, taking place from 4-6 December at UN Environment headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, resulted in a ministerial declaration and 13 resolutions, addressing air, soil and water pollution, and providing the basis for the work of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) over the next couple of years.

For example, in order to reduce soil pollution, UNEP must prepare a report on this issue by 2019, while also addressing impacts on human health. To combat air pollution, countries must adopt national methane reduction strategies, emissions of particulate matter must be reduced and the world should switch to using cleaner fuels. Since the environment is increasingly affected by the use of pesticides and fertilizers and antimicrobial resistance, the UNEP is tasked to submit a report also on these issues by 2019. The resolution submitted by the EU focused on health problems posed by environmental pollution.

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), currently comprising 193 member states, is the governing body of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the world's highest-level decision-making body on the environment. UNEP, established in 1972, is the leading global environmental authority that sets the international environmental agenda, and promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system.


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