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December 2006

EU FISHERIES MINISTERS SET 2007 FISHING QUOTAS FOR EUROPEAN FLEETS

EU fisheries ministers met on 19 and 20 December 2006 to agree on the 2007 fishing quotas for European fleets. Before the meeting, the Union's scientific advisers sought a total ban on cod fishing in European waters. Ministers agreed to a 20 percent cut in waters to the west of the UK, 14 percent in the North Sea and 15 percent elsewhere. The number of days allowed for cod fishing was reduced between seven and ten percent. For other fisheries, the ministers adopted the following quotas: increases in quotas for prawns, haddock, mackerel and monkfish; a 12 percent increase in Bay of Biscay sole; a 20 percent increase in northern hake; a limited lifting of a ban on anchovy fishing; a 12 percent decrease in plaice and a 10 percent decrease in tuna fishing in the Mediterranean. Scientists argued their surveys were ignored and environmental NGOs have criticized the EU for ignoring scientists' warnings and said the protection measures are too weak.

Link to further information BBC press release, 21 December 2006
UNGA ADOPTS DEVELOPMENT-RELATED RESOLUTIONS

On 20 December 2006, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) took action on more than 40 development-related resolutions put forward by its Second Committee (Economic and Financial). In a resolution entitled “Role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence,” the General Assembly reaffirmed the need for the UN to play a fundamental role in the promotion of international cooperation for development, and resolved to strengthen its capacity to facilitate growth, poverty eradication and sustainable development. Recorded votes were requested in relation to resolutions on climate change, trade and development, a Lebanese oil slick, and Arab populations' sovereignty over natural resources.

Link to further information UN press release, 20 December 2006
UNCTAD ADDRESSES PREDICAMENTS OF SMALL COMMODITY PRODUCERS

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Expert Meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 11-13 December 2006, gathered experts from around the world to discuss how to enable small commodity producers in developing countries to reach global markets. The meeting gave rise to an increased understanding about the predicaments of small commodity producers, and steps were taken to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships that can deliver comprehensive solutions enabling small producers to create sustainable livelihoods.

Link to further information UNCTAD Expert Meeting website
UNGA COMMITTEE APPROVES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESOLUTIONS, CONCLUDES SESSION

The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded its session on 6 December 2006, after adopting draft resolutions on, inter alia: the Implementation of Agenda 21, requesting the Secretary-General to submit reports on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air/pollution atmosphere and climate change; the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea, urging States to develop programmes to halt the loss of marine biodiversity; the Convention on Biological Diversity, noting the progress made in negotiating the international regime on genetic resources and benefit-sharing by the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group; the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, reiterating the need for stable, adequate and predictable financial resources; and the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, calling for the integration of desertification into national strategies for sustainable development. The Committee was not able to reach consensus on a draft resolution on Climate Change, due to a provision endorsing the linkage between the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) secretariat and the United Nations. Several delegations, including the European Union and G-77/China, expressed regret over this. The paragraph was included in the resolution only after a vote in which 108 countries supported the text and two (Japan and the US) opposed its inclusion. There were 49 abstentions. The resolution as a whole was also approved by a recorded vote with 114 votes in favor, none against, and 49 abstentions. The resolution calls on countries to work together to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC and notes the decisions taken at the recent UN Climate Change Conference – Nairobi 2006. Link to further information UN press release (8 December 2006)
UNGA COMMITTEE APPROVES SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESOLUTIONS, CONCLUDES SESSION

The UN General Assembly's (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) concluded its session on 6 December 2006, after adopting draft resolutions on, inter alia: the Implementation of Agenda 21, requesting the Secretary-General to submit reports on energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air/pollution atmosphere and climate change; the sustainable development of the Caribbean Sea, urging States to develop programmes to halt the loss of marine biodiversity; the Convention on Biological Diversity, noting the progress made in negotiating the international regime on genetic resources and benefit-sharing by the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group; the Report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, reiterating the need for stable, adequate and predictable financial resources; and the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, calling for the integration of desertification into national strategies for sustainable development. The Committee was not able to reach consensus on a draft resolution on Climate Change, due to a provision endorsing the linkage between the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) secretariat and the United Nations. Several delegations, including the European Union and G-77/China, expressed regret over this. The paragraph was included in the resolution only after a vote in which 108 countries supported the text and two (Japan and the US) opposed its inclusion. There were 49 abstentions. The resolution as a whole was also approved by a recorded vote with 114 votes in favor, none against, and 49 abstentions. The resolution calls on countries to work together to achieve the objective of the UNFCCC and notes the decisions taken at the recent UN Climate Change Conference – Nairobi 2006. Link to further information UN press release (8 December 2006)
SAICM REGIONAL MEETINGS DISCUSS FUTURE ACTIVITIES

Regional meetings on the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) have recently convened in Spain and Latvia. The SAICM Secretariat, in collaboration with the Spanish Ministry of Environment, organized the first EU-JUSSCANNZ meeting on SAICM in Barcelona, Spain, from 20-22 November 2006. The meeting was attended by over 100 participants, who agreed on future coordination arrangements, including informal consultations, and welcomed the early establishment of the SAICM Quick Start Programme Trust Fund and the holding of regional SAICM meetings. Participants also recognized the need for increased funding commitments to SAICM. The EU-JUSSCANNZ countries also considered the Secretariat's proposal for a business plan for the Quick Start Programme and a possible scientific conference. A number of other issues were left to be discussed at subsequent meetings, such as the reporting procedure for SAICM implementation, criteria and level of participation in the SAICM open ended legal and technical working group, and the SAICM Global Plan of Action. The SAICM Secretariat, in collaboration with the Latvian Ministry of Environment, organized a Central and Eastern European (CEE) regional meeting on SAICM in Riga from 4-6 December 2006. Key outcomes of the meeting included the establishment of a 'bridging group' for regional coordination, development of terms of reference for the SAICM regional focal point and regional representatives on the Quick Start Programme (QSP) Executive Board, a regional position on financial considerations for SAICM, and support for the development of a QSP business plan. The meeting was funded by the Governments of Austria, Denmark, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. Links to further information EU-JUSSCANNZ regional meeting website CEE regional meeting website

November 2006

UN DEBATE ON MDGS STRESSES PARTNERSHIPS FOR PROGRESS

A thematic debate “Partnerships towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Taking stock, moving forward” was organized on 27 November 2006 by the General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa. The aim of the debate was to give momentum to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by reviewing practical measures and strategies that will lead to tangible results. The debate brought together donor and recipient countries, as well as civil society, NGOs and the private sector. Sheikha Haya emphasized that partnerships were crucial to achieve the MDGs, with the UN Development Programme's Administrator Kemal Dervis stressing that no region is currently on track to meet all the MDGs by 2015, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noting that the prospects for attaining the goals were “mixed, at best.” The key points made during the debate included: the need for partnerships to engage governments, the public sector and civil society; scaling up interventions on the ground; and the importance of both donors and recipients to fulfil their respective commitments. Several speakers praised the experience of Millennium Villages and the Islamic Development Bank announced the establishment of a US$10 billion Poverty Alleviation Fund to target the MDGs. According to IISD sources, many participants expressed satisfaction with the debate's broad participation and resulting concrete undertakings. Qatar will host a follow-up event to the thematic debate during the first half of 2007. Links to further information UN News Release, 27 November 2006 UN General Assembly summary report
PARTIES TO THE UNECE WATER CONVENTION ADOPT RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE PAYMENTS FOR ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

The fourth meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes convened from 20-22 November 2006 in Bonn, Germany. At the meeting, which marked the tenth anniversary since the Convention's entry into force, parties reviewed and endorsed the activities carried out in the last three years and adopted their workplan for 2007-2009. Participants were presented a Preliminary assessment of transboundary rivers in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and of selected lakes in the UNECE region, adopted new model provisions on transboundary flood management and recommendations on the payments for ecosystem services in integrated water resources management, and decided to focus their future joint work on water and climate change and to develop a Strategy for the UNECE Region on Water and Climate Adaptation. During discussion of the Preliminary assessment of transboundary rivers in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and of selected lakes in the UNECE region, parties reaffirmed that the assessment is an important tool to evaluate compliance with the Convention and the progress achieved to protect and sustainably manage transboundary waters. The complete assessment for the whole UNECE Region will be submitted at the Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” in Belgrade in October 2007. The Model provisions on transboundary flood management that parties adopted set out riparian countries' obligations that could be included in legal instruments on transboundary waters or on flood management. By adopting these provisions, riparian countries commit to exchange information, cooperate in setting up warning and alarm systems and develop a long-term flood-management strategy. The Recommendations on the payments for ecosystem services in integrated water resources management that parties adopted indicate measures to internalize costs and benefits of the services provided by water related ecosystems. The Recommendations will assist decision makers in making economically efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable decisions. Parties also decided to develop pilot projects to test their application. Participants further decided to focus their future joint work on water and climate change and to develop a Strategy for the UNECE Region on Water and Climate Adaptation. The Strategy will address possible impacts of climate change on flood and drought occurrences, health related aspects as well as practical ways to cope with transboundary impacts through adaptation. Another innovative decision of the Meeting was the involvement of the Convention and its secretariat in the development of National Policy Dialogues (NDP) in EECCA countries within the framework of the EU Water Initiative. The NPD will assist countries to develop integrated water resource management plans, analyze water reform needs and define strategies to attain the agreed targets through a participatory process. The first policy dialogue will be launched in Moldova. Links to further information Fourth Meeting of the Parties website UNECE Water Convention website
FORUM AT UN DISCUSSES NGOS' ACCESS TO UNGA

UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa's office, together with the UN Foundation, organized a forum on non-governmental organizations' (NGOs) access to the UN, particularly the UN General Assembly (UNGA). The 21 November 2006 event at UN headquarters in New York drew attention to the role NGOs have played in crisis, post-conflict and post-disaster situations and the UN's reform agenda, especially on the issue of gender equality, among others. At the one-day event, Sheikha Haya announced that she will convene a series of informal thematic debates involving the private sector and civil society on development, gender and the dialogue among civilizations during the coming year. The first such debate will convene 27 November 2006 to consider the progress made so far on reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Link to further information UN News Release, 21 November 2006
UNESCO CONFERENCE CALLS ON DONORS TO SPEND MORE ON EDUCATION

To achieve universal primary education, adult literacy and early childhood care by 2015, the 6th meeting of the High-Level Group on Education for All, organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and meeting in Cairo, Egypt, from 14-16 November, adopted recommendations urging countries to spend 4 to 6 percent of national income on education. The conference, which was attended by education ministers from developing countries, several multilateral and bilateral agencies, NGOs and the private sector, focused on strategies to increase funding from to better respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and improve cooperation to achieve Education for All goals. Link to further information UN news release, 17 November 2006
UN Coherence Panel Releases Report

9 November 2006: The High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance, and the Environment has released its report. The report, “Delivering as One,” was presented to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and to an informal meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 9 November 2006. The report recommends steps to create a unified and coherent UN structure at the country level. It also contains recommendations on: UN governance, funding and management; enhanced humanitarian assistance; advancing gender equality; and reforming business practices. On development, the Panel suggested: • consolidating all UN programme activities at the country level by 2012 (starting with five pilot countries in 2007), through one UN programme, a single budgetary framework, one office where appropriate, and an empowered Resident Coordinator; • establishing a UN Sustainable Development Board to oversee the One UN Country programmes and ensure coherence at the headquarters level; and • creating a Millennium Development Goal funding mechanism to provide multiyear, performance- and result-oriented funding for the country programmes. On the environment, the Panel recommended: • “upgrading” the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with a renewed mandate and improved funding to have “real authority as the environmental policy pillar of the UN system;” • making more effective cooperation among UN entities on a thematic basis and through partnerships; • increasing the resources of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); • clarifying the mandate of the Environmental Management Group (EMG); • tasking UNDP with supporting environmental mainstreaming in crisis prevention, post-conflict and post-disaster interventions, and early recovery; • establishing one comprehensive annual national report format for multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs); • promoting management efficiencies among MEAs and reducing the frequency and duration of MEA-related meetings; • integrating UNEP's environmental expertise in UN country teams; • establishing a sustainable development segment in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC); • shifting the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) from assessing single environmental issues to focusing on implementation and integrated decision-making on environment and development; and • carrying out an independent assessment of international environmental governance within the UN system for considering further reforms, in parallel with the continued UNGA informal consultative process on international environmental governance. Kofi Annan will present the Panel's report to the General Assembly with a preface on suggested ways for member States to consider and implement the Panel's recommendations, and then transmit it to his successor, Ban Ki-moon. Annan has also envisioned an informal dialogue on the report involving national delegations, senior UN officials, country-level practitioners and other experts, allowing for other stakeholders' perspectives to be heard. [The High-level Panel Report] [UN Secretary-General's speech (9 November 2006)]
WORKSHOP DISCUSSES COST-EFFECTIVENESS ANALYSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES

An expert workshop discussing ex-post policy evaluation was convened by the European Environment Agency and the Environment Agencies of Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK in Copenhagen on 7 November 2006. Presentations focused on cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) as an evaluation tool, outlining the strength and weaknesses of CEA compared to cost-benefit analysis, and the difficulties of applying CEA ex-post, in addition to addressing practical experiences with applied ex-post CEA in European environmental policy making. Link to further information Ecologic press release, 7 November 2006
UNEP HOLDS CIVIL SOCIETY CONSULTATIONS

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has convened regional consultations with civil society in the lead up to UNEP's Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF) in February 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya, to identify regional priorities and perspectives on: gender and the environment; water; chemicals management; poverty and the environment; and globalization, ecosystem services and human well-being. Each regional consultation will develop a regional statement, which will be further discussed during the GCSF and UNEP's Governing Council, to be held from 5-9 February 2007 following the GCSF and in the same venue. The European Regional Consultations (23-25 October 2006, Geneva, Switzerland) discussed UN reforms and international environmental governance, and the need for compliance enforcement, dispute settlement, liability and voting mechanisms for multilateral environmental agreements. Consultations in West Asia (31 October-1 November, Manama, Bahrain) focused also on war and the environment: understanding environment, conflict, and cooperation. Among the recommendations coming out of the consultations in North America (2-3 November, Washington DC) were calls for: developing effective institutional and participatory frameworks for water management; working toward a globally binding instrument on heavy metals, possibly through an existing MEA and identifying specific actions to eliminate lead and cadmium, particularly through the final elimination of lead in gasoline; provision of adequate resources to implement UNEP's Gender Plan of Action; exploring opportunities to set up schemes and link beneficiaries to producers of ecosystems services; and assessing the impact of global commodity trading on ecosystems and ecosystem services. Other consultations were held in: Africa (26-27 October, Nairobi, Kenya); Latin America and the Caribbean (1-2 November, Bogotá, Colombia); and Asia and the Pacific (2-3 November, Seoul, Korea). Links to further information UNEP press releases: Civil Society Partners Discuss Environmental Agenda Conflict, Water and Chemicals top West Asia Civil Society Ta... European regional statement

October 2006

SEMINAR DISCUSSES ENERGY AND FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRY

Jointly organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA), the International Seminar on Energy and Forest Products Industry was held from 30-31 October in Rome, Italy. The seminar, attended by inter-governmental and private sector organizations of the global forest product industry, concluded that the global forest products industry can play a significant role in combating climate change by optimizing the use of raw material, increasing efficiency, producing bio-energy and expanding into bio-refinery products. ICFPA, FAO, IEA and WWF agreed to continue working together to apply the unique potential of the forest products sector to mitigating climate change and increasing energy security. Link to further information FAO News Release, 31 October 2006
UNESCO APPROVES 25 NEW BIOSPHERE RESERVES

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced new biosphere reserves. UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme has identified twenty-five new sites in Mexico, Spain, Morocco, France, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Viet Nam and Malawi, as new protected biosphere reserves. These sites were approved by MAB's International Coordinating Council during its 19th session (23-27 October 2006, Paris, France). Link to further information UNESCO press release (27 October 2006)
SYMPOSIUM ON DESERTIFICATION AND MIGRATION RECOMMENDS NEW INITIATIVES

The Second Symposium on Desertification and Migration has recommended a number of steps to address the interrelationship between these issues, including pursuing a new research agenda and initiatives. The 25-27 October 2006 Symposium, which convened in Almeria, Spain, was opened by the Queen of Spain. It was organized in the framework of the International Year of Deserts and Desertification and was attended by over 150 participants from more than 40 countries, including four Ministers of Environment. Participants recommended that studies be undertaken on the socio-environmental conditions in areas where emigration and immigration take place along with the broader causes and consequences of migration, to gain a better understanding of possible adjustment measures. Proposed initiatives included proposals to: promote the International Expert Panel to Fight against Desertification; invest in efforts to fight desertification; and invest in renewable energies to eradicate the causes of anthropogenic climate change, particularly by the EU. Participants noted that Spain has experienced the greatest impact from desertification and migration of all the EU countries, and suggested that it develop a research body to create policies on the interrelationship between desertification and migration. They also suggested that an initiative between Spain, México and Germany to cooperate on research on climatic change, desertification, migration and renewable energy could be reflected in the OECD framework. Link to further information Second Symposium on Desertification and Migration website
EVENT ON ECOSYSTEM GOODS AND SERVICES FROM PLANTED FORESTS CONVENES

The conference on Ecosystem Goods and Services from Planted Forests is taking place this week in Bilbao, Spain. The conference (3-7 October 2006) will consider how far plantations substitute or augment ecosystem goods and services from native forests, and how plantations can be managed to optimize the provision of such ecosystem goods and services as habitat, clean water and non-timber forest products. The conference is part of a larger congress on the Role of Planted Forests in Sustainable Development, and is sponsored by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), IUCN – The World Conservation Union, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), and the Economic Cross Cultural Programme between the EU and India. Link to further information The conference webpage
UNGA DISCUSSES MDGs, UN REFORMS INITIATIVE LAUNCHED

Early in October 2006, the UN General Assembly has focused on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and an independent initiative on UN reform has been launched. On 2 October 2006, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) discussed the proposal by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to incorporate the 2010 biodiversity target into the framework of the MDGs. While the Netherlands and Ethiopia supported the proposal, the US expressed concern about amending the MDGs that were identified in the outcome of the 2005 World Summit as those that had been agreed at the 2000 Millennium Summit. On 6 October, UNGA President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa announced an informal thematic debate for the UN, donor and recipient countries, NGOs and the private sector, focusing on global development, to be held by December 2006. She proposed that the debate review practical measures and strategies aimed to advance efforts to achieve the MDGs. Meanwhile, four countries have launched an alternative initiative to discuss UN reforms. The 'Four Nations Initiative' was launched by Chile, South Africa, Sweden, and Thailand to focus on reform of UN governance and the management of the Secretariat in a proposed 18-month process of five phases. Links to further information UN press releases (October 2006): 2 October 2006; and 6 October 2006 “Reform the UN” release, 6 October 2006 Website of the Four Nations Initiative
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPLEMENTING EUROPEAN FISHERIES FUND EXAMINED

WWF, the Fisheries Secretariat and Birdlife International organized a workshop on the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) on 5 October 2006 in Brussels, Belgium. The workshop sought to: raise awareness among NGOs about the importance of the EFF and to support their participation in the EU member States' national programming processes; highlight measures benefiting sustainable development of the marine environment eligible under the EFF; and outline steps to ensure that these measures are included in national programming documents. Links to further information WWF press release, 5 October 2006 Background paper for the workshop

September 2006

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADDRESSES UN REFORM, ENVIRONMENT

At the annual general debate opening the 61st session of the UN General Assembly in September, participants discussed UN reforms and environmental issues, among other themes. Several speakers expressed support for continued management reform and an enlarged membership for the Security Council. Sweden underscored the role of the High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian affairs and environment to revitalize the support of the United Nations to developing countries. On the increasing importance of environmental issues, Iceland called for more action on ocean issues and renewable and clean energy sources; Pacific nations drew attention to the effects of climate change; and Micronesia and Palau proposed an immediate moratorium on unregulated bottom trawling because of its devastating impact on marine ecosystems. The European Union recalled its proposal to transform the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) into a specialized agency, the UN Environment Organization (UNEO), which would be based in Nairobi and built on existing structures, and stressed that addressing climate change and biodiversity loss are integral parts of achieving sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals. Links to further information UN press releases: 27 September 2006 26 September 2006 26 September 2006 22 September 2006 EU statement, 19 September 2006
CONFERENCE ON BIODIVERSITY IN EUROPEAN DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION CONCLUDES

Organized by IUCN-the World Conservation Union and the European Commission, the Conference on “Biodiversity in European Development Cooperation” was held from 19-21 September 2006, in Paris, France. Focusing on biodiversity conservation and human wellbeing, the Conference addressed eight themes: ecosystem services' contributions to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); ecosystem services in national development and poverty reduction strategies; challenges for present aid modalities; communication and education; innovative financial mechanisms; trade and economic cooperation; governance and stakeholder engagement; and EU Overseas Countries and Territories. The Conference outputs consist of a summary of the proceedings and a Message from Paris, including recommendations for the EC and EU member States. Link to further information IISD RS coverage of the conference
MOMENTUM CONTINUES ON UN REFORMS

Focus on UN reforms, including those related to environmental governance, has continued in the General Assembly. The General Assembly's outgoing president Jan Eliasson concluded his tenure by cautioning that greater efforts are needed to sustain the momentum on UN reforms during the upcoming 61st session of the Assembly. Eliasson also underscored the need to ensure cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, the private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to reach shared goals. His successor, Sheikha Haya Rashid Al Khalifa, opened the 61st session in mid-September highlighting the importance of UN Reform as a process. She specifically called attention to: disarmament and non-proliferation; Security Council reform; mandate review; improving the situation of women; and system-wide coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian affairs and the environment. Meanwhile, media reports suggest that US Ambassador Bolton has warned that the US may reduce its funding to the UN in the event of a negative evaluation of progress on UN reforms by the end of 2006. Links to further information UN press releases/news, September 2006: 11 September 2006 8 September 2006 Reuters/Washington Post, 11 September 2006
EU, ASIA BACK KYOTO IMPLEMENTATION

A pledge to implement the UN Climate Change Convention and its Kyoto Protocol was part of the outcome of a meeting between senior elected officials at the Sixth Asia-Europe Meeting. Held in Helsinki from 10-11 September, the meeting stressed the Convention and Protocol as the “appropriate international framework to develop further actions against climate change,” and committed 38 countries to “work for success in Nairobi and at other forthcoming UNFCCC conferences.” Participants also committed themselves to cooperate to advance the UNFCCC Dialogue on long-term action, as well as the two reviews scheduled to take place in relation to the Kyoto Protocol. Link to further information Meeting Declaration (11 September 2006)
Experts Discuss Institutionalizing Sustainable Development

September 2006: Experts attending a meeting in Stockholm have discussed the issue of “institutionalizing sustainable development.” The Expert Meeting on Institutionalizing Sustainable Development, which took place from 31 August-1 September 2006, was organized by the UN Division for Sustainable Development (DSD), with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It was the first meeting that DSD has jointly organized with the OECD. More than 100 participants from developed and developing countries discussed governance aspects of sustainable development and advancing the implementation of national sustainable development strategies. Follow-up actions considered by participants included proposals to organize a workshop to be held in a developing country in Asia in March 2007, and to update, harmonize and annotate the guiding principles for national sustainable development strategies that are used by OECD and by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). Participants also suggested that the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) could review the possibility of developing guidelines for developing countries for increasing linkages between national sustainable development strategies, poverty reduction strategies, and plans for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. There was also discussion of the UN, OECD and EC possibly developing a common framework for conducting peer reviews of national sustainable development strategies and comparing the outcomes of currently-planned peer reviews, and of major international organizations (OECD, UN, World Bank, IMF) setting up an informal dialogue on treatment of sustainable development and related governance issues within their organizations. [Meeting website]

August 2006

CONGRESS OF CONSERVATION BIOLOGY HELD IN EUROPE

Held from 23-26 August 2006, in Eger, Hungary, the first European Congress of Conservation Biology gathered more than 1500 scientists, conservationists and policy makers. Plenary sessions addressed biodiversity loss in Europe; ambiguities in the EU plan to halt biodiversity loss by 2010; and the impact of climate change upon the development of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Plenary sessions were complemented by several technical events, including a symposium on the diversity of important transboundary wetlands in Europe.

Links to further information Progress on transboundary cooperation in Europe – report fro... Congress website

July 2006

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE AMENDS SITE LIST

Eighteen new sites have been included in the World Heritage List of humanity's outstanding natural and cultural legacy. During its 30th annual session, held in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 8-16 July 2006, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee reviewed 27 new cultural sites, eight natural sites, two mixed sites and three transboundary sites presented by 30 countries for inclusion on the list. The 18 new sites include: Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries in China, Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary in Colombia, Stone Circles of Senegambia in the Gambia and Senegal, and the Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila, Mexico, among others. The Committee further examined the 34 sites currently on the List of World Heritage in Danger, which face serious threat from a variety of causes such as pollution, pillaging, war, poorly-managed tourism and poaching. The Committee also adopted a strategy of response to the threat that climate change poses to many World Heritage sites, requesting the World Heritage Centre to prepare a policy document on the impact of climate change on World Heritage properties in consultation with experts, conservation practitioners, international organizations and civil society to be presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2008.

Links to further information UN and UNESCO press releases: - 10 July 2006 - 13 July 2006 - 12 July 2006 - 4 July 2006 - 14 July 2006 Information on new World Heritage Sites: - 14 July 2006 - 13 July 2006
ECOSOC Highlights Connection Between Full Employment and Sustainable Development

July 2006: The 54-member UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a Ministerial Declaration during the High-Level Segment of its annual substantive session, recognizing “that full and productive employment and decent work for all…are key elements of sustainable development for all countries, and therefore a priority objective of social cooperation.” The 3-5 July 2006 High-Level Segment convened in Geneva, Switzerland, to consider the theme “Creating an environment at the national and international levels conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all, and its impact on sustainable development.” During a 6 July dialogue with the Executive Secretaries of the Regional Commissions on regional dimensions of the same theme, the issues of jobless growth, lack of growth, growth concentrated in certain sectors, youth unemployment and labor market changes in transition economies were raised. ECOSOC's coordination segment convened from 6-10 July to consider “Sustained economic growth for social development, including the eradication of poverty and hunger.” Participants also convened in a special event on Avian Influenza to hear from UN agencies that are preparing for a possible pandemic. Speakers stressed that it will represent a threat for years to come and emphasized the need to help developing countries to prepare for a possible pandemic. During the operational activities segment, held from 11-13 July, Jose Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, reported that the effectiveness and efficiency of the United Nations development system at the country level has taken on a new sense of urgency since the 2005 World Summit. A humanitarian affairs segment, convening from 14-19 July, addressed topics including special economic, humanitarian and disaster relief assistance, during which speakers noted that the number and scale of humanitarian emergencies in the last year had presented significant challenges for the humanitarian community. The Council will conclude its work on 28 July. Links to further information ECOSOC Home Page ECOSOC Press Releases for July 2006 Session High-Level Segment Ministerial Declaration, 5 July 2006
UN REFORM TALKS CONTINUE ON ENVIRONMENT, DEVELOPMENT AND UN MANAGEMENT

With time running out before the next session of the UN General Assembly, the work of the High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence has been continuing, with participants also focusing on international environmental governance. Meanwhile, the General Assembly has adopted a resolution on development-related follow-up to the 2005 UN World Summit and another on UN management, following approval of the UN budget. UN System-Wide Coherence The UN System-wide Coherence Panel consultations continued through the months of June and July, focusing on funding, business practices, relations with international financing institutions, and regional consultations for Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Arab States. The High-level Panel convened for its second meeting on 1-3 June 2006 and in early July in Geneva, Switzerland. On the latter occasion, the Panel held a dialogue with major groups and stakeholders on three cross-sectional issues: sustainable development, human rights, and gender. On 1 July, a meeting of major groups and stakeholders, organized by Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future, the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service and the Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for sustainable development and environment, convened to prepare for the dialogue with the High-level Panel. Suggestions discussed included: building compliance and liability mechanisms into the architecture of international environmental governance; transforming the Commission on Sustainable Development into a subsidiary body of the General Assembly (including assuming the sustainable development-related issues of the General Assembly's Second Committee); placing sustainable development “front and center” of the UN reform agenda; and ensuring that the multilateral system is a counterweight to international finance institutions. Two additional UN reform-related meetings, which took place from 3-4 July 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland, focused on the structure of the Environmental Management Group (EMG) in the framework of the General Assembly informal consultations and the Secretary-General's High-level Panel. Senior-level officials representing EMG members met on 3 July and executive heads of agencies and executive secretaries of MEAs met on 4 July to discuss the implications of the UN reform initiatives for the EMG and to develop an EMG contribution to the reform processes. Issues discussed included the need to give the EMG two years to demonstrate its added value as a distinct forum and a proposal to review existing cooperative arrangements between EMG members and to use this information to identify areas in which cooperation among EMG members can provide additional benefits (IISD Sources). Development On 30 June 2006, following lengthy negotiations, the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution on progress on development items of World Summit follow-up and commitments to further reform. The resolution, inter alia, calls for: the full implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, taking into account the Rio principles; the promotion of the integration of the three components of sustainable development, as mutually reinforcing pillars; and concrete action. The resolution further reaffirms that the eradication of hunger and poverty, changing unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are overarching objectives of and essential requirements for sustainable development. The G-77 expressed concern that the resolution would not ensure the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals by their target date of 2015, while other governments welcomed it as a reflection of the UN's commitment to development as a central pillar of its work. UN press release (30 June 2006). Text of the resolution. UN management reforms On 10 July 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled, “Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger organization worldwide: detailed report,” which addresses accountability, budgetary discretion, information technology, procurement, financial management, reporting mechanisms, public access to UN documentation and future consideration of management reform. While General Assembly President Jan Eliasson considered that the resolution will further consolidate a “culture of accountability, transparency and integrity,” media reports considered the agreed reforms as “modest management reforms.” The adoption of the resolution followed the approval by consensus of the budget on 1 July, which lifted a spending cap on the remainder of the United Nations' two-year fiscal period, imposed by developed countries with a view to ensure progress in management reforms. The United States, Japan and Australia, however, remarked that not enough progress had yet been made in the reform of the UN.

Links to further information UN press releases (June and July 2006): - 1 July 2006 - 28 June 2006 - 10 July 2006 Other media reports (June and July 2006): - AlertNet - 8 July 2006 - Global Policy Forum - June 2006 - Global Policy Forum - 26 June 2006 - ReformtheUN - 28 June 2006 - ReformtheUN - 7 July 2006

June 2006

UN Reform Talks Consider Environment, Sustainable Development

June 2006: Discussions on UN reform have continued in several forums in recent weeks, and are set to carry on throughout June. The UN System-wide Coherence Panel and the UN General Assembly consultations on environmental governance have continued their work, along with discussions on the UN mandate review. Polarized positions over the UN budget and management reform have been widely reported by the media. This report sets out recent and upcoming events in the key processes. High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence The UN Secretary General's High-level Panel in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment has met several times in April and May 2006. The Panel held a seminar in Nairobi at the beginning of April, and stakeholder consultations in Mozambique later that month. On 15 May, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) hosted the Panel's Consultation on the Resident Coordinator System; and on 24 May the Panel held further consultations in Islamabad, Pakistan. In the coming month, the Panel is expected to focus on the following issues: environment, transition from relief to development, business practices, financing of the UN system and relationship with international financial institutions. Other priority areas for its work include: humanitarian assistance, addressing the transition gap from relief to development, taking into account the existing framework and new developments such as the Peacebuilding Commission and the Central Emergency Response Fund; mainstreaming the environment into development and translating environmental issues at the field level; and mainstreaming gender, human rights and sustainable development. Overall, while the Panel will take into account possibilities of comprehensive restructuring, it is expected to focus mostly on delivery mechanisms rather than the creation of new organs or agencies. More information MEA Bulletin (May 2006) Newsletters from “Reform the UN” (May and June 2006): 17 May 2006 5 June 2006 Stakeholder Forum updates (June 2006) UNGA Consultations on Environmental Governance In two recent letters to delegates, the two Co-Chairs of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) consultations on environmental governance – Enrique Berruga of Mexico and Peter Maurer of Switzerland – scheduled further consultations on 13, 20 and 27 June 2006, at UN headquarters in New York. Co-Chairs Berruga and Maurer proposed that the June consultations should focus on enhanced coordination, improved policy advice and guidance, better integration of environmental activities in the broader sustainable development framework at the operation level (including through capacity building), better treaty compliance, and strengthened scientific knowledge, assessment and cooperation. Co-Chairs Berruga and Maurer also announced that a web link with relevant background information on environmental governance issues will be established, to promote inclusiveness and transparency in the consultations, and confirmed their close contact with the Secretary General's High-level Panel on System Wide Coherence. More information Letters available on the UN General Assembly website (May 2006): 24 May 2006 31 May 2006 UN mandate review Informal consultations on the review of mandates held on 8 May 2006 at UN headquarters in New York focused on the promotion of sustainable growth and sustainable development. The G-77/China stressed that the UN General Assembly should provide guidance on strengthening ECOSOC and other bodies, as well as reviewing cross-cutting mandates. They further underscored that ECOSOC mandate to promote the integrated and coordinated implementation and follow-up to the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits on economic, social and environmental fields should be preserved and strengthened. They also underscored the importance of ECOSOC's role in providing overall oversight, coordination and guidance for UN operational activities and in acting as the central mechanism for system-wide coherence. The US proposed to discontinue the mandate of Regional Commissions to prepare for and follow-up on UN Conferences and Summits. Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ) and Japan also underscored the need to review the division of labor between the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Regional Commissions and other bodies working on sustainable development, proposing that UNDESA continue to support the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Commission on Population and Development, but leave operational activities to UN funds and programmes. The US highlighted the serious need of reform of UNDESA, UNCTAD and the Regional Commissions. On linkages with ongoing processes on environmental governance, CANZ focused on the complementarity between other UN reform processes and the mandate review, proposing to set aside from the review issues that fall expressly within the UN Coherence High-level Panel's terms of reference. The European Union called for interlinked and mutually reinforcing processes on UN reform and environmental governance. More information Stakeholder Forum updates (June 2006) UN management reform Media reports have increasingly called attention to the upcoming discussions on the UN budget and its links with the UN management reform. Following the developing countries' (G-77/China) request for additional reports from the Secretariat, which has slowed movement on UN management reform, the US, Japan and the EU have said they would impose additional spending caps on the UN budget unless significant reforms take place. The UN biennium budget has already been subject to a six-month spending cap ending on 30 June. According to some sources, the “deadlock” that has resulted from the U.N.'s two-year budget being “truncated to a six-month spending limit” is expected to continue, with new spending caps conditional upon significant progress being achieved in UN management reforms. Developing countries consider such spending cap an “unacceptable” and “unprecedented” measure, and hope the existing cap will be lifted in June 2006. In response to the concerns related to the UN budget and UN reforms, a group of 42 nongovernmental organizations wrote on 8 June to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging the U.S. government to articulate its priorities for UN reform and embrace diplomacy to solve any conflicts. The UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown has recently expressed his hope that the North-South deadlock over UN budget and management reforms will not continue, calling on greater US engagement in the UN. Supporting Malloch Brown's statement, the Secretary-General Kofi Annan also expressed optimism that a budget crisis will be averted. More information UN News (June 2006): 6 June 2006 7 June 2006 Inter Press Service News Agency: 31 May 2006 8 June 2006 SUNS (June 2006) Inter Press Service News Agency The Independent (9 June 2006) The Financial Times (9 June 2006; registration required) BBC news (June 7, 2006) NGO letter
UNGA ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTATIONS FOCUS ON INSTITUTIONS, COMPLIANCE

Consultations held in mid- to late June on international environmental governance have focused on institutional reforms and other ways to improve compliance with environmental treaties. The second round of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) consultations on the institutional framework of the UN environmental activities opened on 13 June 2006 at UN headquarters in New York, with a second meeting held on 20 June and a follow-up briefing on 27 June. During the meetings, the EU reiterated its proposal to transform UNEP into a UN specialized agency to be known as the UN Environment Organization (UNEO). This agency would exercise cross-cutting functions for multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) such as information exchange and centralization, regional and global coordination of activities, and streamlining of the international agenda of MEA meetings. The US expressed doubts as to the need to transform UNEP into UNEO. The group of developing countries (G-77/China) prioritized the consideration of environmental matters within the context of the other two pillars (economic and social) of sustainable development, called for more effective assistance to developing countries, and cautioned against the total or immediate restructuring of UN activities or architecture. Switzerland supported UNEP's role in facilitating the adoption of administrative structures and work programmes for all MEAs, and for MEAs to report to the General Assembly through UNEP. New Zealand prioritized clarifying the environment-related mandates of different UN bodies and programmes, and respecting the autonomy of MEAs. IUCN-The World Conservation Union recommended: merging the EMG and the UN Development Group into a UN Sustainable Development Group; integrating sustainable development into the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), with the Commission on Sustainable Development merged into a high-level segment of the reformed ECOSOC for environment, development and finance ministers; and developing social and environmental safeguard and mainstreaming policies for all UN operational agencies. On MEA compliance, several participants stressed the need to hold fewer and shorter MEA-related meetings and to concentrate on challenges in national implementation, with some calling for an overarching coordination of MEA activities or for MEA clustering. One participant proposed targeting compliance-related activities to address capacity needs, while others called for a clearer division of labor between UNEP and the UN Development Programme, with the former focusing on building environmental expertise for implementation on the ground, and the latter on field operations. On 27 June, a summary of the 13 and 20 June consultations was presented at UN headquarters, together with the results of a study on global environmental governance. According to IISD Reporting Services' sources, after consultations on the summary document, this will be transmitted to the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence and to the incoming UNGA President as a possible basis for further UNGA consultations in 2007. Meanwhile, the General Assembly's budgetary committee is considering a request from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lift the spending cap on the remainder of the United Nations' two-year fiscal period. The spending cap stems from a December 2005 decision of Member States to adopt a budget for the 2006-2007 biennium but to limit spending authorization to six months, pending significant progress on UN reform. On 21 June 2006, the group of developing countries (G-77 and China) called for the spending cap to be lifted immediately and without restriction, while donor nations indicated that more time was needed to come to a consensus agreement.

Links to further information G-77 Statement, 13 June 2006 EU Statement, 13 June 2006 Switzerland Statement, 13 July 2006 Co-Chairmen's Summary
EUROPEAN YOUTH HIGHLIGHT ROLE FOR SPORT AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN ACHIEVING THE MDGS

The UN European Youth Leadership Summit convened in Vienna, Austria, from 19-21 June 2006 to discuss how youth can use the convening power of sport and culture to accelerate the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and encourage peace building. The Summit gathered two youth leaders, one young man and one young woman between the ages of 18 and 30, from the 25 countries of the European Union plus the accession countries of Bulgaria and Romania. It was the final in a two-year series of regional youth leadership meetings, which will culminate in the first ever UN Global Youth Leadership Summit, to be held from 30 October – 1 November 2006 in New York. Participants adopted a Vienna Declaration, in which they recognize that sport and cultural activities are powerful tools for accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs, by contributing to efforts to reduce poverty and promote education, health, empowerment of women and girls and environmental sustainability. The Declaration also urges all EU member States to fulfill their pledge to contribute 0.7per cent of their GDP to development assistance.

Link to further information Youth Summit website
EU-US AGREE ON CLIMATE, ENERGY ACTION; CONCERNS RAISED OVER EU EMISSIONS TRADING TARGETS

Senior U.S. and EU officials have agreed to strengthen their cooperation on climate change and on cleaner technologies. The announcement came following high-level meetings in Vienna on 21 June. The meeting's outcome document includes an announcement that an EU-US High Level Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development will be established to build on existing bilateral and multilateral initiatives and advance implementation of the G-8 Gleneagles Plan of Action. The dialogue is expected to meet in the northern fall/autumn of this year in Helsinki, Finland, and to consider such issues as “experience with different market-based mechanisms…., advancing the development and deployment of existing and transformational technologies that are cleaner and more efficient, producing energy with significantly lower emissions, efficiency and conservation, renewable fuels, clean diesel, capture of methane, lower emitting agricultural operations and energy production and distribution systems, as well as other environmental issues.” Meanwhile, the European Commission has released an updated transport policy that reportedly seeks to “balance transport and environmental needs,” while the EU has come in for criticism for allowing greenhouse gas emissions to rise for the second straight year and over news that Germany is about to set “unambitious” targets under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

Links to further information EU-US Summit Declaration, 21 June 2006 EurActic news reports, 21-26 June 2006: - EU-US beef up cooperation on energy - Dimas upbeat about EU-US climate change co-operation - Commission attempts to balance transport and environmental n... - EU's climate change leadership loses credibility BBC news report, 27 June 2006 Planet Ark news report, 22 June
NGO COALITION URGES ACTION ON MERCURY

Further action is needed to reduce mercury supply and use, according to participants at a recent meeting in Brussels. The “EU Mercury surplus management and mercury-use restrictions in measuring and control equipment” meeting took place on 19 June 2006. Organized by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the meeting involved a number of environmental and health NGOs. The groups demanded that several measures be taken against mercury, including steps to: ban all exports by 2008, store all surplus in perpetuity, regulate mercury, restrict the use of all measuring and control equipment containing mercury, and completely eliminate mercury from production. The group urged EU institutions to adopt the proposals presented in order to help reduce mercury supply in the EU and worldwide, in line with UNEP Governing Council recommendations.

Link to further information EEB press release (19 June 2006)
NORWAY SUBMITS PROPOSAL ON CBD-TRIPS RELATIONSHIP

Norway has submitted a proposal on suggestions for an amendment to the TRIPS (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement (WT/GC/W/566). The Norwegian proposal follows a submission from a group of developing countries led by India (WT/GC/W/564/Rev.1), and expresses general support for the submission. The developing countries' proposal would amend the TRIPS Agreement by requiring patent applications to disclose the country providing genetic resources used in the invention, and evidence of compliance with the country's legal requirements for prior informed consent and benefit-sharing. Including certain different elements, the Norwegian document proposes using criminal or other legal sanctions to address non-compliance with the disclosure requirements; triggering disclosure requirements for both genetic resources and traditional knowledge, even if the latter is not associated with genetic resources. Also, it proposes sending any declarations of origin to the CBD Clearing-House Mechanism. According to recent reports, at informal consultations held on the proposals, as well as during the TRIPS Council meeting on 15 June, the US, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada still opposed amending the TRIPS Agreement to introduce disclosure requirements. Japan presented a proposal on industry experiences regarding genetic resource databases (IP/C/W/572), and Canada, Australia and New Zealand similarly shared their experiences with access and benefit-sharing. The EU repeated that it is interested in mandatory disclosure requirements, but would not support enforcement measures, including revocation of patents. Along with Switzerland, the EU would prefer to amend WIPO patent rules in this regard.

Links to further information Discussions on CBD-TRIPS gain momentum with new proposals, ICTSD Trade BioRes, 16 June 2006 The Norwegian proposal (WT/GC/W/566) is available through th... IP Watch, Brazil, India get developed country support for TRIPS amendment on biodiversity, 15 June 2006 IP Watch, EU gets little support for enforcement proposal at WTO; CBD issue unresolved, 16 June 2006 IP Watch, Inside views: India, Brazil explain need for TRIPS biodiversity amendment; plus interview with Alan Oxley, 22 June 2006
EU GREEN WEEK DEBATES 2010 BIODIVERSITY TARGET

A series of conferences from 30 May to 2 June 2006 in Brussels has focused on the target of halting biodiversity loss by 2010. On 22 May, the European Commission presented a Communication setting out a policy approach to halting biodiversity loss, which proposed 10 priority objectives in relation to key policy areas, as well as an EU Action Plan specifying concrete actions and outlining the responsibility of community institutions and Member States. Under the theme “Biodiversity is life!” a number of debates held during the Green Week were attended by prominent speakers, including various decision makers and academics. The opening session explored the balance between exploitation and protection of natural resources. Panels were also held on issues such as the ecological footprint, the value of biodiversity, the impact of trade and what trade can do, agriculture and forests, the Natura 2000 network, and research, indicators and monitoring. There were also panels on access and benefit-sharing, oceans and seas, reconciling nature and development, ecosystem services, climate change, business and biodiversity, and the system of international governance. The closing session focused on the Countdown 2010 and the EU commitments. Links to further information Green Week website, June 2006 Daily reports Europa Press, “Commission proposes new EU plan to halt biodi... 22 May 2006 European Commission Communication, “Halting the loss of biod... 22 May 2006 Euractiv.com News, “Can EU halt animal and plant extinction?... 30 May 2006 Euractiv.com News, “Green week debate: biodiversity 2010 tar... 31 May 2006 Euractiv.com News, “Biodiversity: can EU politicians cope wi... 1 June 2006
UNEP Holds Second Meeting on MEA Compliance, Enforcement

June 2006: The Division of Environmental Conventions of UNEP has organized a second High-Level Meeting on Compliance with and Enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). The event, which took place from 31 May – 2 June 2006, in Geneva, Switzerland, sought to build on the process initiated at the first High-Level Meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in January 2006. The Geneva meeting considered the technical aspects of compliance and enforcement and identified potential legal, structural and institutional innovations that could enhance MEA implementation. Based on its deliberations, the meeting resulted in a Chair's Summary that UNEP will use to develop an action plan on compliance with and enforcement of MEAs, which is expected to be presented to the UNEP Governing Council in 2007. Recommendations include: promotion of partnerships and cooperation between UNEP and MEA Secretariats, and between these actors, donors and international financial institutions; promotion of regional cooperation; and development of the knowledge base on international criminal activities related to MEAs. [IISD RS summary report]

May 2006

LINKING OF EMISSIONS TRADING SCHEMES DISCUSSED

A conference in Brussels has been held to consider linking the EU Emissions Trading Scheme with others. The conference, “Linking Schemes: Potential Impacts of Linking the EU Emissions Trading System with Emerging Carbon Markets in other Countries”, was held from 29-30 May 2006, and was organized by the Wuppertal Institute with funding from Germany's Ministry for Education and Research. Delegates considered the institutional dimensions of the linking issue, as well as the economic and environmental impacts.

Link to further information More information
CONSULTATIONS ON ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE HELD IN NAIROBI

Informal consultations have been held with the Committee of Permanent Representatives in Nairobi, Kenya. The consultations, which were undertaken by UN General Assembly President Jan Eliasson as part of the broader UN Reform process, were held on 3-4 May 2006. Eliasson undertook a field visit to the Kibera slum – considered the largest in Africa, received briefings on the joint UNEP/UN-HABITAT Nairobi River Basin Project and on UN-HABITAT's Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme. Addressing the Committee of Permanent Representatives to UNEP and UN-HABITAT, Eliasson outlined the ongoing process of UN reform, in particular the Peacebuilding Commission, the Human Rights Council, management issues and global environmental governance. In a press conference, he also stressed the importance of embracing the reform programme to help strengthen the UN, of regional cooperation and multilateralism, and the urgency to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and integrate security, development and human rights. Link to further information UN News report (May 2006)

April 2006

BUDGET VOTE THREATENS UN REFORMS

UN membership appears polarized over the budgetary implications, the pace and the modalities of proposed UN Reforms. Opposing some of the specific recommendations for UN management reform proposed in UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's report “Investing in the United Nations: For a Stronger Organization Worldwide,” the group of developing countries (G-77/China) submitted a draft resolution in the General Assembly's Fifth (Budget) Committee calling for several further reports and studies to further justify the proposed reforms. The group also opposed budgetary procedures or financial regulations being implemented without the General Assembly's prior review and approval, and strategic discussions being held in “meetings of manageable size” possibly through dividing up the workload of the Fifth Committee among select working groups of limited membership. The G-77/China prioritized instead the General Assembly's oversight role for administrative and budgetary matters, with a view to ensuring full, effective and efficient implementation of all mandated programmes and activities and protecting the right of each Member State to have an equal say in UN decision-making regardless of financial contribution to the UN budget. The G-77/China proposal was opposed by several developed countries that feared a slow down of the whole UN reform process – including environmental governance reforms – and cautioned against “cherry-picking” among the Secretary-General's interrelated proposals. Breaking a longstanding tradition of consensus decision-making, the Administrative and Budgetary (Fifth) Committee approved the resolution proposed by G-77/China by a vote of 108 countries in favor to 50 against with 3 abstentions on 29 April 2006. The resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on 8 May 2006, by a vote of 121 to 50 with two abstentions. Developed countries that voted against the resolution collectively represent over 80% of budget contributions, thus giving rise to concerns that approval of the UN budget on 30 June 2006 will be tied to progress on management reforms. The Bush administration, for instance, has signaled it may block UN funding unless the organization carries out management reforms by June. Several observers considered that this budget vote has led to a polarization of UN Members' positions not seen “since the 1970s” or the “invasion of Iraq.” Expressing regret about the vote, Secretary-General Annan urged States to work together to rebuild the spirit of mutual trust and remain committed to the principles of UN reform. Links to further information UN press release (April 2006) UN press release (May 2006) UN Secretary-General's Statement General Assembly Draft Resolution A/C.5/60/L.37 Reuters Financial Times Washington Post BBC NEWS
FOLLOW UP ON RENEWABLES CONFERENCE DISCUSSED AT CSD-14

An interim report on the implementation of the International Action Programme (IAP) adopted at the renewables 2004 conference (REN21) was released during CSD-14. The IAP identifies 197 activities for the expansion of renewable energy, ranging from expanding commitments and changes in policy frameworks to financing, research and development activities. The Paris-based REN21 Secretariat reports that 75% of the actions committed and reported upon are currently being implemented or have been completed, and only 2% have been abandoned. Mohammed El Ashry, the newly elected Chairmen of the REN21 Steering Committee, commented on the release of the interim report that, “This first-ever international monitoring of voluntary renewable energy commitments …makes international policy processes more effective and credible.” Links to further information REN21 website Interim Report on the Implementation of the IAP
UN REFORM PROPOSALS SPARK RIFT

Positions appear to be polarized over proposed management reforms at the United Nations, according to recent media articles and UN sources. UN General Assembly President Jan Eliasson told the Washington Times that UN member States are taking quite different positions on various aspects of the reforms. The group of developing countries (G-77) has recently introduced a resolution in the General Assembly's budget committee, which would require the UN Secretariat to submit detailed reports on several issues affected by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposed management reforms. Apparently, there is a concern that the proposal could postpone indefinitely progress on these reforms, while the G-77 has argued that it is simply seeking to ensure that any changes do not weaken the General Assembly's influence, eliminate jobs and threaten aid programmes. Some of the proposals could potentially have a significant impact on the UN's work on environment and development, and a high-level panel has been meeting to discuss system-wide coherence in the areas of development, environment and humanitarian affairs. UN General Assembly President Eliasson expressed hope that management reforms can remain on track. Links to further information MEA Bulletin report (page five), 19 April 2006 Washington Times, 20 April 2006 Reuters news report, 20 April 2006
Climate Change-Sustainable Development Nexus Considered in Preparation for CSD

April 2006: In preparation for the climate change discussions at the May 2006 session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-14), the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Government of India, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) co-organized a meeting entitled “Climate Change and Sustainable Development: An international workshop to strengthen research and understanding.” Participants at the 7-8 April 2006 workshop in New Delhi, India, considered: key elements of the climate change-sustainable development nexus; climate change, adaptation and sustainable development; implications for least developed countries and small island developing States (SIDS); integrating climate change concerns into sustainable development strategies; options for response measures; and options and measures for abating climate change in the context of sustainable development. In his keynote address, the acting head of the UNFCCC secretariat, Richard Kinley, called for urgent measures, arguing that “we have all the policy instruments we need” to act now. TERI is preparing a report of the meeting. [Final programme and presentations, April 2006] [UNFCCC press release, 7 April 2006]

March 2006

UN REFORMS PROGRESS

UN Mandate Reform: Environment, Development Focus Stressed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has presented his report on reforms of the UN mandate –“Mandating and delivering: analysis and recommendations to facilitate the review of mandates” – to the General Assembly on 30 March 2006. Annan highlighted that the report aims to provide an analytical framework to ensure complementary and mutually reinforcing strategies to address global issues and determine the priorities for the UN. In the report, the Secretary-General emphasized sustainable development and human settlements as areas that may require attention to possible overlaps and redundancy, specifically referring to the work of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN-Habitat, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), as well as the regional commissions and the multilateral environmental conventions secretariats. The Secretary-General also makes a clear link between the ongoing consultative process in the General Assembly on a more coherent institutional framework for environmental activities, and the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian affairs and the environment. The UN has also set up a searchable electronic registry of still-active mandates originating from the resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. After informal plenary consultations, the Secretariat and Management Reform Co-Chairs Allan Rock (Canada) and Munir Akram (Pakistan) are expected to outline a work plan for further consideration of the matter. Secretary-General's Report on UN Management Presented Meanwhile, the Secretary-General's report “Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger Organization worldwide” on UN management reform was presented on 3 April 2006 to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of the General Assembly by UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, who highlighted the need to transform the United Nations into a field-driven organization. Previously, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) had requested the Secretary-General to prepare a detailed implementation report by the beginning of May, to set out in a concrete manner the actions and resources required to develop and carry out his vision, and a history of previous similar proposals, assessment of their impact, explanation of how accountability would be defined and enforced in relation to the proposals, as well as information on the projected return on investment and time lines for implementation. The Fifth Committee was expected to conclude its consideration by 18 April at the latest, but countries views diverged as to whether considering the report beyond this date, in light of ACABQ's requests for additional information. Development, Humanitarian and Environment Coherence Panel Meets On 5 April, the UN High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment convened for the first time at the UN headquarters in New York. The Panel is expected to strengthen the governance, management, coordination and coherence of the UN system. Emphasizing the need to continuously engage member States and other stakeholders in the Panel's deliberations, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for a focus on: the UN system's international development cooperation work, issues of transition to development and peace building, mainstreaming the environment into development decision-making, and the comparative advantages of the UN System in the broader international multilateral system. Annan also announced the establishment of a Secretariat to support the Panel's work and the preparation of a concept paper and proposals for future research and consultation, to facilitate the Panel's initial discussions. The Panel discussed the need for coherence between national programmes and UN agencies activities at the country level, for financial coherence among UN agencies with overlapping mandates, and for reforming the UN to meet current and future global changes. Links to further information UN Mandate Review Report, April 2006 UN Mandate registry, April 2006 UN press releases on mandate reforms, April 2006 UN press release, 30 March 2006 UN News Centre, 30 March 2006 UN press release, 30 March 2006 Mandating and Delivering: Report of the Secretary General UN press releases on management reforms, April 2006 UN press release, 3 April 2006 UN press release, 30 March 2006 UN System-wide Coherence Panel information, April 2006 UN News Centre, 5 April 2006 UN News Centre, 6 April 2006 The Secretary-General's Statements
EU MINISTERS OUTLINE ENERGY POLICY

EU energy ministers have agreed on recommendations for a new European energy policy in the lead-up to a summit scheduled for 23-24 March. Following a meeting on 14 March to discuss a new Commission Green Paper, ministers approved a statement highlighting issues of supply, competitiveness and environmental sustainability. In reaching an agreement, ministers agreed that Member States' sovereignty over primary energy sources and choice of energy mix must be fully respected. However, some environmental groups criticized the meeting's outcome, alleging that ministers had favored fossil fuels and nuclear technology. Meanwhile, environmentalists have also criticized the EU's emissions trading scheme, arguing that it is resulting in significant profits for the private sector, but only nominal gains for the environment. More information: Conclusions from the EU Transport, Telecommunications and En..., 14 March 2006 WBCSD/EurActiv news report, 15 March 2006 IPS news report, 16 March 2006
UNESCO BUILDS REGIONAL CAPACITY FOR WORLD HERITAGE SITES

UNESCO has undertaken a series of regional workshops to build capacity related to World Heritage Sites. One workshop, held from 9-10 March 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya, focused on the management of Natural World Heritage sites in Africa. Participants adopted recommendations related to the better representation and effective management of the World Natural Heritage sites in Africa, and recognized the need for effective legal and institutional frameworks, a cross-sectoral approach at the national level, and the direct involvement of communities in sites management. Another workshop took place in Soufriere, Saint Lucia, from 27 February-3 March 2006, focusing on marine World Heritage and the Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS). Participants elaborated recommendations on the need to develop guidance for applying the World Heritage criteria to SIDS marine areas, and recognized the possibilities and strategic value offered by serial and transnational approaches to new World Heritage nominations. These events will be followed by a capacity-building workshop for cultural and natural heritage professionals in the Pacific region, which is taking place from 24-28 April 2006, in Apia, Samoa. Links to further information More information on the Caribbean meeting African meeting Pacific workshop announcement

February 2006

EUROPEAN MEETINGS ADDRESS BIODIVERSITY LOSS; REPORTS URGE GREATER EFFORTS

Meetings to consider biodiversity loss have been briefed on the need to increase efforts to address the problem. The fourth Intergovernmental Conference “Biodiversity in Europe” and the tenth meeting of the Council of the Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy were held from 22-24 February 2006, in Lake Plitvice National Park, Croatia. Participants considered issues on the agenda of the upcoming eighth Conference of the Parties to the CBD, focusing on island biodiversity, communication, education and public awareness, and the Global Taxonomy Initiative. The meeting also explored the status of implementation of the biodiversity commitments in the European region, including strategic issues for evaluating progress, such as the European 2010 biodiversity indicators, forest biodiversity, agriculture, protected areas and ecological networks, and invasive alien species. Officials from 40 European governments and 32 environmental organizations recognized the need to redouble their efforts if they are to achieve the goal agreed in Kiev in 2003 of halting the decline in Europe's biological diversity by 2010. They noted that, despite many positive developments, biodiversity continues to decline at a rapid pace throughout Europe. The meeting agreed to step up regional cooperation and strengthen partnerships with the forestry, agriculture and other economics-driven sectors, and stressed the need to inform the public about the many economic benefits derived from biodiversity. One of the meeting's highlights was the opening of the Museum of Culture and Nature of the Convention on Biological Diversity. A report prepared for the meeting by the Countdown 2010 Secretariat concluded that Europe is performing poorly on seven out of eight indicators of impact on biodiversity, including forests, agriculture and invasive alien species, with global warming, urbanization and pollution identified as major challenges. Protected areas was the only measure indicating positive developments, as the report found that there has been a significant increase in coverage of protected areas over the past decade, although efforts are needed to increase protected area coverage in marine ecosystems and to ensure the effective management of protected areas. Another report, published by the European Environmental Bureau, found that the slow application of the Directive on Strategic Environmental Assessment, aimed at ensuring that the environmental consequences of big plans and development projects are carefully assessed during their preparation, could undermine Europe's objective to stop the loss of its biodiversity by 2010. Finally, a new WWF report shows that vast sums of EU money are spent on roads, dams and irrigation schemes which threaten critically endangered species and key habitats in Europe. In many cases, EU funds are being used for activities that are recognized as major threats by the EU itself. Links to further information The Strategy Guide web site Ministry of Culture - Republic of Croatia Europeans seek funds and political will to save biodiversity, Environment News Service, 27 February 2006 Convention on Biological Diversity, 22 February 2006 Europe gets poor marks in halting species loss, Reuters News Service, 21 February 2006 UNEP/Council of Europe report regarding Pan-European progres..., February 2006 Slow application of SEA Directive undermines EU efforts to h..., European Environmental Bureau press release, 23 February 2006 European Environmental Bureau, Biodiversity in Strategic Env..., December 2005 World's most endangered cat species threatened by EU funds, WWF press release, 3 March 2006 WWF, Conflicting EU Funds: pitting conservation against unsu...
UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL CONSIDERS ENERGY AND GOVERNANCE, APPROVES CHEMICALS PLAN

The latest special session of the UN Environment Programme's Governing Council has considered energy and climate change issues as a contribution to the upcoming session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. The Council has also discussed environmental governance and approved an agreement on international chemicals management. UNEP's ninth Special Session of its Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum took place from 7-9 February 2006 in Dubai. The Council session immediately followed the International Conference on Chemicals Management, which concluded negotiations on a “strategic approach to international chemicals management” (SAICM). UNEP's Governing Council endorsed the chemicals management framework, while also taking up energy issues, tourism, and international environmental governance. Discussion on governance focused in particular on the question of universal membership of the Governing Council and the proposal by France and the EU to transform UNEP into a UN Environmental Organization. However, no agreement was reached as differences on this issue persisted. The meeting was Klaus Töpfer's last as UNEP Executive Director. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
PROVISIONAL WTO RULING ON GMO PRODUCTS REJECTS EU MORATORIUM AND MEMBER STATES' BANS

The World Trade Organization has produced a long-awaited provisional decision on the trade dispute between the EU and the US, Canada and Argentina on the moratorium for the approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the EU and the ban by several EU states on specific biotech products. This provisional decision, which will be circulated to parties to the dispute, addresses three main issues. Firstly, it confirms that a de facto moratorium on GMO-product approvals existed in the EC between 1998 and 2003, resulting in a failure to complete individual approval procedures without undue delay, as required by the SPS Agreement (Article 8 and Annex C). Secondly, the decision concludes that this moratorium resulted in undue delays in the approval procedures of 24 biotech products. Thirdly, it establishes that countries which banned specific products that were previously approved for use within the EC did not provide sufficient scientific evidence to justify risks to human health and/or the environment, thus failing to meet obligations under the SPS Agreement. Pursuant to these findings, the Panel requests the EC to bring the relevant measures in conformity with its obligations under the SPS Agreement, although it recognizes the end of the de facto moratorium with the approval of Bt-11 sweet maize in 2004, and thus makes no recommendations on its first point. Links to further information Provisional WTO Panel decision, February 2006 Development of the EU biotech case, Trade & Environment.org website, February 2006 ICTSD Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest coverage, 8 February ...
WORLD HERITAGE CENTRE TO SUPPORT THE CBD WORK PROGRAMME ON PROTECTED AREAS

In a meeting held from 30 January to 1 February 2006, in Paris, France, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre considered actions to support implementation of the CBD work programme on protected areas in natural World Heritage sites. Deliberations resulted in the identification of concrete activities under six broad headings to be followed up in the short, medium and longer term: contributing to the implementation of the work programme elements in World Heritage sites; supporting the implementation of the World Heritage Convention; supporting the World Heritage Centre in providing training and capacity-building opportunities to World Heritage site stakeholders; information exchange; developing large scale initiatives suitable for external financing; and reporting to the World Heritage Centre and the CBD Secretariat. Link to further information World Heritage Centre press release, 23 February 2006

January 2006

Regional Meetings and Bureau Prepare for CSD 14 Session

January 2006: Regional implementation meetings have now taken place in all UN regions in preparation for the fourteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-14). Participants at these meetings considered the thematic cluster of issues to be considered at CSD-14 and identified priority actions based on their regions' experience and needs. The Arab Regional Implementation Meeting (RIM) convened in association with the Joint Committee for Environment and Development in the Arab region (JCEDAR) in Cairo from 13-15 November 2005. Priority actions this region will forward to CSD-14 include: the importance of poverty alleviation through enhancing access to modern energy services to foster economic and social development in rural and poor urban areas; improving consumption patterns, upgrading air quality and promoting better governance and Public Participation for Sustainable Development; and mitigating the impact of polices and measures adopted by the industrial countries to comply with climate change convention and Kyoto protocol and to compensate the losses incurred by Arab nations due to these measures. The Second UNECE Regional Implementation Forum on Sustainable Development took place in Geneva on 15-16 December 2005. This forum highlighted the need to improve access to energy services to meet basic human needs and achieve sustainable industrial development, and noted that UNECE countries share a large responsibility in tackling this task through their official development assistance (ODA) and partnerships. This region also called attention to the high importance of energy related environmental issues and the issue of energy security both in the UNECE region and the rest of the world. The Asia-Pacific Regional Implementation Meeting met under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand, from 19-20 January 2006. Participants identified adaptation in agriculture, forests and terrestrial ecosystems as high priority measures for most Asian countries, while the key issue for small island developing States is adapting water resources and coping with rising sea levels. Also in preparation for CSD-14, the second meeting of the CSD-14 Bureau took place on 11 December 2005, in Tbilisi, Georgia. Participants discussed a draft organization of work, which proposed holding parallel sessions involving: general statements focused on overview of progress in implementing Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation; and thematic and regional discussions focusing deliberations on identifying barriers and constraints, lessons learned and best practices in relation to the thematic cluster. A Multi-stakeholder dialogue session would discuss the role of major groups in promoting action to implement the thematic cluster and a “SIDS day” would review the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy. A High-level Segment would convene from 10-12 May 2006. [UN Division for Sustainable Development: links to all region...] [West Asia/Arab Regional Implementation Meeting Outcome Docum...] [UNECE Regional Implementation Meeting Outcome Document] [UN news release on ESCAP Regional Implementation Meeting] [Notes from the Bureau meeting, December 2005] [Draft Organization of CSD-14 Work]
High-Level Meeting Discusses How UNEP Could Foster Compliance with MEAS

January 2006: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened a High-Level Meeting on Compliance with and Enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 21-22 January 2006. Approximately 30 experts gathered at this meeting with the objective of contributing ideas for UNEP to use as it develops an action plan on compliance with and enforcement of MEAs. A draft “Chair's Summary” identified 23 issues that emerged from the discussions as challenges that require further work, research, capacity building and resources. These challenges include the need to: • reinforce national measures to enhance national implementation; • mainstream environmental protection into economic development and poverty reduction issues and use these polices as an entry point for the effective national implementation of MEAs; • demonstrate the value of environmental services and extended cost-benefit analyses; • invest in human resources dealing with the implementation of MEAs, specifically the training of personnel and officials dealing with cross-cutting issues (such as parliamentarians, judges, prosecutors, customs officials, and police officers); and • encourage Parties to consider establishing a national body responsible for overall national coordination and implementation, apart from MEA focal points. [IISD RS coverage of the meeting]
ECOSOC ROLE IN SUMMIT FOLLOW UP STRESSED

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) must play a central role in following up on the outcome of the 2005 World Summit, according to several delegates attending ECOSOC's opening organizational session for 2006. Several also raised the issue of strengthening ECOSOC to allow it to perform its role supporting development. The Council, which met on 17 January 2006, also adopted its provisional agenda (document E/2006/2) for ECOSOC's 2006 organizational session. The session will resume from 7-10 February, and is expected to meet again on 10 and 11 May. Link to further information Department of Public Information - News and Media Division -...