New Delhi: The latest science and cutting-edge digital tools are required to tackle the current environmental crisis for which it is critical to foster global knowledge and technology exchange without any barrier, India said at the UNEA on Friday.

Representing India at a special session of the 5th United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) to commemorate 50th anniversary of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav said the occasion must serve to strengthen international cooperation to address major environmental challenges.

“UNEP’s 50th anniversary must serve to strengthen international cooperation and encourage collective action to address the major environmental challenge of our time including climate change, conserving and enhancing biodiversity and tackling pollution and waste while moving on the path of sustainability.

The Union minister stressed the need for using the latest science and cutting-edge digital tools and technologies to tackle today’s environmental crisis.

“For this, fostering global knowledge and technology exchange without barriers is critical,” Yadav said at the plenary of the special session.

The 5th UNEA commenced in Nairobi on February 28 and will conclude on Friday with the special session.

“I congratulate the UNEP on completing 50 years during which it has rendered exceptional service to the global community.

Yadav said India has been engaging with the UNEP since 1972, dealing with critical environmental challenges.

“The UNEP is one of the leading global voices of the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations to improve their quality of life without compromising that of the future generations,” the environment minister said.

He recalled that in 2018, India hosted the World Environment Day on the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ with Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving a global call for eliminating single use plastic.

“This call of India provided the momentum leading to a significant action on plastic pollution around the globe, culminating in the historic resolution and its adoption. We believe that this will institutionalise ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ around the world,” he said.

Yadav said that on its 50th anniversary, it is appropriate for the UNEP to pay greater attention to the question of the means of implementation.

“Provision of finance, technology transfer and capacity building will ensure that implementation of this agreement is not a mere burden on developing countries but a pathway to greener and healthier planet,” he said, adding that sustainable lifestyle underpin the survival of our planet.

He asserted that India believes that utilisation of resources must be mindful and not a mindless and destructive consumption.

“Our PM gave a clarion call for LIFE- Lifestyle for Environment- at COP 26 in Glasgow,” the minister said.

“We believe that the UNEP should join hands with India to spread the message of LIFE to the global community with a view to safeguarding humanity and the planet,” he said.

India looks forward to stronger collaboration with the UNEP on environmental issues including conventions and multilateral agreements relating to environment, Yadav said.

He also called for the UNEP to build a robust portfolio of projects particularly for delivering on the environmental dimension of 2030 agenda on sustainable development and other agreed global environmental goals.

“India walks the talk and speaks from the position of strength and responsibility on biodiversity and climate change. It is from this experience, India sends a message of hope and optimism that humanity and all nations can strive together and meet these challenges,” Yadav said.

In a historical step on March 2, 175 countries party to the UNEA signed a mandate calling for a legally binding treaty addressing the full life cycle of plastic, from production to disposal by 2024.

In a statement, the UNEA had said that the mandate will inform the text of the treaty itself, which an International Negotiating Committee (INC) will be tasked with drafting and ratifying over the next two years.

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