Overview Overview


India’s engagement with United Nations Environment Programme

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

India’s emergence as a global environmental leader has been affirmed by the world in recent years. India was the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which took place on June 5, 2018. With “Beat Plastic Pollution” as the theme, the world came together to combat single-use plastic pollution.

India’s place in the vanguard on issues ranging from climate change to plastic pollution is a natural fit. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi was awarded the UN's highest environmental honour 'Champions of the Earth' in 2018, for his leadership of the International Solar Alliance and pledge to eliminate single-use plastic in India by 2022. In the same year, Cochin International Airport was also given the same award for Entrepreneurial Vision, for being the world's first fully solar-powered airport.

India has had a close engagement with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) since its inception and there are ongoing and implemented UNEP projects in India. Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change is the nodal Ministry dealing with India’s engagement with UNEP. India’s High Commissioner to Kenya Ms. Namgya C. Khampa is accredited as the Permanent Representative of India to UNEP.

United Nations Environment Assembly

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. UNEA enjoys the universal membership of all 193 UN Member States and the full involvement of major groups and stakeholders. It gathers ministers of environment in Nairobi, Kenya every 2 years.

Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Information & Broadcasting and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Prakash Javadekar, led the Indian delegation to the first UNEA in Nairobi in 2014.

The fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) took place from 11-15 March 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, as agreed during UNEA-3 in December 2017.

The theme of the UNEA-4 was Innovative Solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable production and consumption. In a significant first, India piloted resolutions on two important global environment issues relating to Single-use Plastics (UNEP/EA.4/RES.9) and Sustainable Nitrogen management (UNEP/EA.4/RES.14), and both resolutions were adopted with consensus. India also hosted, in the High-Level Segment of UNEA, a session on “Global Partnerships: Key to Unlocking Resource Efficiency and Inclusive Green Economies”.

It was highlighted that climate finance is an important lever for climate action related to both mitigation and adaption in the developing countries. The contributions to climate finance need to be in consonance with the basic principles of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC). Climate finance is more of an obligation of the developed countries, based on their historical emissions. The availability of sufficient, additional and predictable climate finance is a key for action.

The fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.1) took place virtually from 22-23 February 2021 and in-person session (UNEA-5.2) will be held in February 2022.

The theme of UNEA-5.1 was “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”. UNEA-5 focused only on urgent and procedural decisions. Substantive matters that require in depth negotiations will be deferred to a resumed in-person session of UNEA-5 in February 2022, in a format to be decided at a later stage.

Dr. Virander Kumar Paul, High Commissioner & PR to UNEP & UN-Habitat delivered the Country Statement at UNEA-5.1. India also co-hosted a Side event in UNEA 5.1 titled - Addressing single-use plastic products pollution with a life cycle approach, with UNEP and the EU delegation.

Resumed fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 5.2) and the Special Session on the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP@50) were held in Nairobi from 28 February to 2 March and 3-4 March 2022 respectively. India has proposed draft resolution on a ‘Framework for addressing plastic product pollution including single-use plastic product pollution’. Ms Leena Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change attended the assembly and delivered the National Statement for UNEA 5.2 and participated in bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event.

Hon’ble Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Shri. Bhupender Yadav visited Nairobi from 3-4 March 2022, to represent India at the special session of United Nationals Environment Assembly - UNEP@50 (50th anniversary of UNEP) at United Nation office in Nairobi. He delivered India’s national statement, participated in Leadership Dialogues at the special session and held 11 bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the event. Hon’ble Minister also interacted with a cross-section of the Indian diaspora during his visit. Ms. Leena Nandan, Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Climate Change headed the Indian delegation for the resumed fifth session of the UNEA – UNEA 5.2 which was held from 28 February to 02 March 2022. 

UN Environment in India

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) established a country presence in New Delhi, India on 16 May 2016. UN Environment’s high-level missions in February, March, June and October 2018 have forged a legacy of environmental leadership: from hosting the biggest and most consequential World Environment Day ever in June 2018, when India boldly pledged to go single-use plastic free by 2022, to conferring of the Champions of the Earth Award on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his environmental leadership.

UN Environment India in partnership with governments, private sector, UN agencies, civil society, communities, citizens, research and academic institutions and other organizations is working towards raising awareness and galvanizing action on critical environmental issues that contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. UN Environment’s approach to environmental management revolves around partnerships – combining the values and interest of governments with the strengths of UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and private sector.

India makes an annual financial contribution (US$ 100,000) to the General-Purpose Funds of UN Environment and to several Multilateral Environment Agreements.

[November 2022]



Multilateral Relations