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Joint statement by Nordic Ministers for Environment and Climate, UNEP consultations 8 May 2024

08.05.24 | Deklarasjon
The joined statement was signed at the Nordic Ministerial meeting on May 8th 2024 in Stockholm following a consultation with Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).


Stockholm, Sweden

The environment and climate ministers of the Nordic countries, meeting in Stockholm with the Executive Director of UNEP in the context of the Spring meeting of the Nordic Council of Ministers, have taken stock of the achievements of the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, UNEA 6, and UNEA’s development as the world’s foremost universal decision-making body for the environment. 


We welcome the increasing relevance of UNEA and the priority given to it by UN member states and Major Groups and stakeholders as a platform for joint action to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution and addressing emerging environmental challenges. We note that the enhanced attention to the role of science and cross-regional cooperation have been key for success. 


We appreciate the active engagement of member states in the work of UNEA but also note the challenge of countries’ capacities to engage in the negotiations. Looking ahead, we believe member states and UNEP should carefully consider possible adjustments in procedures and working methods that can allow UNEA to better fulfill its central role in the global environmental governance system. This includes considering a more limited number of resolutions with high impact and stronger linkages with UNEP’s Medium-term Strategy and Programme of Work. 


To ensure that UNEA continues to be an effective, ambitious, and successful decision-making body that attracts broad ministerial participation, we encourage all member states to stay true to the mandate and spirit of UNEA as the leading forum for environment. The Nordic countries are committed to engage constructively with all interested member states and UNEP in this regard, for example through the ongoing lessons learned process. 


At our meeting in Stockholm, we also discussed green transition through circular economy. We note with concern that increasing resource use is the main driver of the triple planetary crisis, as highlighted by the recent Global Resources Outlook 2024. Better resource management will be essential to achieve sustainability, and we consider that green transition through circular economy will be an important enabler to address the increasing resource use and handle the triple planetary crisis. 


Thereby, it is important that the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, currently under negotiations, will cover the full life cycle of plastics, and that it will be agreed by the end of 2024. 


We believe that a more efficient resource use and circular economy is compatible with strengthening economies, reducing inequality, improving livelihoods, and reducing environmental impact. We need to reinforce circular material flows and support new circular business models, that are competitive and can be successfully scaled up, taking into account the entire value chain. It is also important to streamline regulation, so that it promotes and enables circular economy growth and circular economy innovations. Overall circularity is still at a low level globally, which is also true for the Nordic countries, and strong engagement from and cooperation with the private sector is essential for the circular economy to grow and develop in all sectors. 


We see a need to vastly increase the resource efficiency in a number of high impact sectors to promote sustainability globally. An illustrative example of concern is the growth in the textile sector with its accompanied serious environmental impact. The lifecycle of textiles requires large amounts of water and energy and is a source of considerable pollution, including the release of increasing quantities of micro-plastics into the environment. 


We believe that it is important to develop a common understanding on enhanced global efforts for circular economy and resource efficiency. In that regard, we welcome the progress made at UNEA-6 (incl. the resolutions on sustainable lifestyles and circular economy of sugarcane industry), while we had also hoped for a specific resolution on circular economy. Clear directions from future UNEAs will be needed to accelerate this understanding and support for circular transition domestically, regionally and globally, and will be the key to achieve environmental as well as overall sustainable development for all. We, the Nordic countries, will do our part to support UNEP’s work and raise the level of ambition on circular economy at a global level. 


Romina Pourmokhtari, Minister for Climate and the Environment, Sweden 
Kai Mykkänen, Minister of Climate and the Environment, Finland 
Magnus Johannes Heunicke, Minister of Environment, Denmark 
Andreas Bjelland Eriksen, Minister of Climate and Environment, Norway 
Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Climate, Iceland 
Ingilín D. Strøm, Minister of Environment, Faroe Islands 
Camilla Gunell, Minister of Infrastructure and Climate, Åland 
Jesper Josefsson, Minister of Industry and the Environment, Åland