The 4th UN Environment Assembly approved the 6th Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6). GEO-6 is the most extensive GEO ever attempted, both in its scope and in the number of participants. This UNEA will also start the process toward GEO-7, setting the parameters for participation. It is crucial that
UNEA-4 directs the UN Environment to ensure that the Major Groups and Stakeholders have defined and expanded roles in GEO-7.
Initially, the role of the Major Groups in GEO was limited. This started to change during the 1st UN Environment Assembly, where civil society representatives workedwith the UN Environment Chief Scientist Jaqueline McGlade requesting the Major Groups be permitted to participate in GEO-6. These representatives intervened a number of times in support of the proposed GEO-6 process on behalf of the Major Group Science and Technology as they have also done at the previous three Assemblies.
Dr. McGlade ensured the Major Group participation to a new unusual extent in GEO-6. The intergovernmental multi-stakeholder consultation in Berlin in 2014 to establish GEO-6 included representatives of all Major
Groups. The Major Groups participation continued through the regional assessments process, in the scientific advisory groups and high-level discussions. Although the number of civil society representatives working on GEO-6 remained limited, the new process was a major step toward realizing the goals of Paragraph 88 of the Rio+20 Declaration.
As the parameters of the next GEO are established, it is crucial to continue and expand the engagement of Major Groups in the process toward GEO-7. The Major Groups can contribute expertise and wisdom toward not only the science behind GEO-7, but also the science policy that emerges from it and the global implementation by civil society that a sustainable future requires.