UNEP fostering environmental sustainability in East Africa through multilateral agreements

  • 17 Feb 2023
  • 3 Mins Read
  • 〜 by Grace Marione

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is tasked with promoting environmental sustainability all over the world. As the first environmental agency in the United Nations system, it was founded in 1972. The UNEP aims to promote environmental sustainability by offering direction, assistance, and resources to governments, civil societies and businesses to help them safeguard the environment and advance sustainable development.

Climate change, biodiversity, water and sanitation, and sustainable energy are just a few of the key issues that UNEP focuses on. Additionally, it seeks to eradicate poverty, develop eco-friendly occupations, and safeguard both human and environmental health. To accomplish its objectives, UNEP makes use of a variety of instruments, such as scientific and technical assessments, policy recommendations, capacity building, and project implementation.


UNEP seeks to advance sustainable development and strengthen global environmental cooperation. In order to create global agreements and best practices, it promotes cooperation between governments, civil societies, and businesses. UNEP also tries to increase public support and awareness and coordinates activities, campaigns, and events to advance sustainable development.

The UN agency plays an important role in environmental sustainability by providing a global platform for governments, civil society, and industry to come together and develop internationally agreed upon environmental policies and best practices. 

In addition, UNEP oversees a number of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), which are international treaties that commit countries to take action to protect the environment. These agreements cover a range of environmental issues, from climate change and biodiversity to hazardous waste and chemicals.

These agreements may take different forms, such as: Conventions, Treaties, Agreements, Charters, Acts, Pacts/accords, Covenants, Protocols and Constitutions (for an international organisation). 

Multilateral environmental agreements are negotiated and adopted at the international level by United Nations members, and each nation is in charge of putting them into effect at the national level. The Paris Climate Accord, a treaty of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, is one of the well-known multilateral environmental agreements. The UN Environment Programme uses its convening power to play a leading role in developing, negotiating, and implementing a wide range of international environmental conventions and treaties. It currently hosts 15 Multilateral Environmental Agreements due to its unique position as the top environmental body of the UN.

The East African Community (EAC) partner states have committed to making every effort to ensure the effective implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) signed and ratified by the EAC partner states, including:

  • The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – A global environmental agreement that was developed to counteract “dangerous human interference with the climate system,” in part by regulating the atmospheric amounts of greenhouse gases.
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – Is the international agreement that has been ratified by 196 countries and is for “the protection of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits emerging from the usage of genetic resources.”
  • The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) – The first legally enforceable international agreement connecting sustainable land management with the environment and development. The Agreement focuses primarily on the drylands, which are composed of arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid regions and are home to some of the most vulnerable ecosystems and populations.
  • Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – An international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of Ramsar sites.
  • Convention and International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) – Aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer – A multilateral environmental pact made in 1985 that established guidelines for global cuts in the production of chlorofluorocarbons because of its role in the ozone layer’s disintegration and subsequent rise in the risk of skin cancer.
  • Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS) – An international environmental treaty, signed on 22 May 2001 in Stockholm and effective from 17 May 2004, that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants.
  • International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) – Aims to promote the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests and to promote the sustainable management of tropical timber-producing forests.

These agreements have helped to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, improve air and water quality, and protect biodiversity. UNEP continues to be a