Some Lessons from the Stockholm+50

Jun 8, 2022 | UN Presence

Stockholm, Sweden. As a follow-up to the UN General Assembly resolution 75/280 of 25 May 2021, the Global environmental community gathered at the Stockholmsmässan (Stockholm International Fairs) in Stockholm from June 2 to 3, 2022, for the “Stockholm+50: a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity” (Stockholm+50). UN Secretary-General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres graced the meeting. In his opening remarks, he reiterated the need for leadership in the effort to “end a suicidal war against nature” to “rescue us from our environmental mess.”

The Claretian Missionaries, through Bro. Robert Omondi, CMF, of the CMF@UN Team, representing the Fondazione Proclade Internazionale-Onlus, participated on this event.

While the meeting was principally designed to commemorate the 50th anniversary since the inception of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and its outcome documents, it also strategically sought to optimize the dividends of multilateralism towards environmental protection to respond to the Triple Planetary crisis of – Climate Change, Threat to Biodiversity and Pollution.  The event also sought to act as an acceleration platform towards the implementation of the UN Decade of Action for the realization of Sustainable Development Goals, including the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, with a view to encouraging the adoption of green post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

The meeting had over 3000 participants, representing diverse voices, entities, and interests including State parties, civil societies [NGOs; Faith-based Organizations, youth, and women organizations as well as indigenous peoples organizations, business, and science communities].

Aware that the 1972 Stockholm Declaration recognized and referred to the necessity of spiritual growth of humans towards living in harmony with nature, we Claretians joined our voices to it by appending our signatures to the statements from both Faith for Earth Initiative and the Major Group Stakeholders in the UNEP.  From the many elaborate statements and presentations made during the plenary sessions, side events, webinars, and action hubs, it was clear that Faith and Indigenous leaders and actors have the potential to play an essential role in shaping global environmental governance and policymaking.

Bro. Robert relates to us his learnings and realizations:

  • Faith communities represent the vast majority of human populations which are significantly at risk.  Therefore, our presence and impact in national and international forums are much more than an outcome of preferential options for the poor, but an urgent prophetic duty and mission to protect the poor and our common home.
  • The youth constituency, who had convened a powerful Youth Assembly in Stockholm three days before the beginning of the main conference, have the capacity to organize themselves and articulate environmental issues from their perspective. This presents a challenge to us as Claretians @UNEP, on our organizational capacity to mobilize our youths in SDG matters and care of our Common Home.
  • Indigenous Peoples are coming out as a unique and powerful voice in national and international forums on their motion and efforts.  We must recognize this capacity and adapt our approaches to the facilitation of their organization and participation to allow them to express themselves, so they can articulate their issues clearly. Given that their worldviews are contained in their languages, preservation of their native languages should form an integral part of our commitment to them.  [We had strong Indigenous Peoples’ presentations from Latin America, India, and the Philippines].
  • We must acknowledge the role of the Business and Science Communities in the environment and climate change.  We must forge new ways toward mutual ethic-based engagement with them if we are to make any significant changes to the current trajectory of the environmental crisis.
  • Given the complex and transboundary nature of current environmental challenges, we must enhance the new synergies of networking and partnerships to deepen and widen our approaches towards mobilization and actions for the protection of our common home [both high ranking decision-makers and vulnerable communities at the grassroots]. We had educative and memorable inputs from High Court Judges on the theme “Judges, the Environmental Rule of Law and a Healthy Planet” since the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, like justice José Igreja Matos (Court of Appeal of Portugal) Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin (National High Court of Brazil) Justice Nambitha Dambuza (Supreme Court of South Africa) Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti (Supreme Court of Argentina) Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla (Supreme Court of Nepal) Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah (Supreme Court of Pakistan).
  • The themes of defending Environmental Rights Defenders gained prominence in this meeting with a strong presentation from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Latin America. In this regard, I met the former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment Mr. David R. Boyd, who expressed his openness to helping us promote awareness on this subject. It was noted, too, that special attention needs to be taken towards women and girls as environmental human rights defenders who suffer disproportionately and in a differentiated way as Environmental Rights Defenders. That the shift from the current extractive economic paradigm must be accompanied by robust programs toward financing just and peaceful transitions to eco-centric and circular economy paradigms. If there are no alternative and gainful green jobs and sources of livelihood, changing human behaviors would be difficult.
  • A decade of actions cannot be realized with words and endless action-less reflections. There is a need for concrete, consistent, and documented actions for our common home.

The meeting ended on the evening of June 3, 2022, a day before World Environmental Day. In her concluding remarks, the Secretary-General of Stockholm+50 and Executive Director of the UN Environment Program, Inger Andersen, said:

“Knowing that if we do not change, the triple planetary crisis will make our world less fair, equitable, and prosperous. We have laid out what it will take. Now, we must carry our energy forward not in words, but in deeds. It is in our hands, let’s get it done.”

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