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Madam President, thank you for the floor.

It’s great to be back together again at UNEP. This week, I’ve seen firsthand the “Nairobi Spirit” that inhabits this place. 

I think the Nairobi Spirit can be summed up in two Swahili words:  Tuko Pamoja, which means, “we are together.”

Today, it’s clear we need to work together like never before.

Just yesterday, the IPCC released its latest report that provides further alarming details on the climate crisis unfolding around us. 

We face numerous simultaneous global challenges that remind us of the fragility of human life and of our planet.

These environmental risks increasingly undermine the very foundations of international peace and stability.

The United States is committed to urgently addressing them.

During Secretary of State Blinken’s visit here, he announced our support for launching negotiations on a binding agreement to combat plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution fouls our waters and our lands.  It has spread to every corner of the planet – from the depths of the ocean to the highest mountains tops. 

We seek a plastics agreement that is innovative and ambitious, and that provides flexibility for countries to contribute to a common objective through national action plans. 

Addressing this crisis requires strong stakeholder engagement. We need to aim high and inspire everyone to build innovative solutions across the full life cycle of plastics.

There are also several other important resolutions that deserve mention.

We need to do more to bolster a One Health approach that recognizes and addresses the linkages among the health of humans, animals, and our shared environment.

Likewise, we must decisively confront the escalating loss of biodiversity.  

The United States is reversing the loss of nature and biodiversity by committing to conserve at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030.  We call on other nations to do the same, and we will help.  

And just as we do with the climate crisis, we must tackle the pollution crisis with strong science and equal ambition. Let’s work together to apply the best available science to address all forms of pollution, especially air pollution.

On Sunday, I visited the Amani Garden here in Nairobi, where more than seventy graceful trees stand in commemoration of the lives lost in an act of senseless violence here just nine years ago.

We must constantly strive for a vision of amani — for that day when humans can plant seeds of peace, rather than aggression. Where we can live in true harmony with each other, by safeguarding the natural world.

Yet, as we sit here at UNEA, Europe faces a large-scale land war in which Russia is the sole aggressor. The consequences of Russia’s aggression will be faced for years to come. The international community must stand together to strongly, and publicly condemn Russia’s actions. We stand with Ukraine and its people.

Now is the time for us to keep the spirit of Tuko Pamoja alive and come together to build a peaceful and sustainable future. This is the vision that underpins UNEP and the founding of the United Nations itself. 

As we conclude this meeting with a celebration of UNEP’s 50th birthday, let’s leave here with even greater ambition and renewed global commitment for the next fifty years of environmental progress, and beyond. Tuko Pamoja 

U.S. Department of State

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