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Environment, economic development link explored at first ever UN environment assembly

The first-ever United Nations Environmental Assembly is underway in Nairobi, Kenya, where more than 150 high-level delegations are addressing environmental sustainability challenges.

Sanjaasuren Oyun, minister of environment and green development in Mongolia, told the opening session Monday that a shift toward more environmentally sound policies is a prerequisite for sustainable development. Oyun was elected the president of the U.N. Environmental Assembly, the highest-level U.N. body every convened on the environment.

Achim Steiner, the head of the U.N. Environmental Program, said the world's changing environment — including climate change, pollution and land degradation — shows that the world's economy needs to be reinvented or progress will suffer.

Steiner said world leaders recognize that global environmental cooperation must be achieved. The environment, he said, is linked directly to economic and societal issues.