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bringing you the latest news, information and analysis from
international environment and sustainable development negotiations


Recent Meetings

Intergovernmental Orgs


Meetings from: 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 

December 2007

UNGA SECOND COMMITTEE CONCLUDES WORK, APPROVES RESOLUTION ON UN FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES

On 19 December 2007, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) officially adopted the resolutions that had been negotiated and approved by the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) during meetings held from 8 October-18 December 2007. In her concluding remarks on 18 December 2007, the Second Committee Chair Kirsti Lintonen (Finland) highlighted that the Committee had approved 34 resolutions during UNGA's 62nd session and set in motion two major initiatives by formulating the procedure for the Review Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Doha in 2008, and by proclaiming the Second Decade on Poverty Reduction (2008-2017). She also noted that the Committee had shown a united front on the issue of climate change, while “regrettably not being able to reach consensus on the draft resolution on trade and development for the fourth consecutive year.” In addition, member States reached consensus on a resolution on the triennial comprehensive policy review that will shape UN development activities over the next three years (A/RES/62/208), specifically on funding, national-capacity development and development effectiveness. The resolution notes the declining share of core contributions to UN funds and programmes, and invites countries to consider increasing their contributions to those agencies' budgets so the UN could respond more comprehensively and efficiently to global development demands. The text also underlines that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to development, and suggests that the UN's development assistance should respond to the varying development needs of countries, in line with their national development plans and strategies. In the draft resolution (A/C.2/62/L.59) calling on UNGA to hold the ‘Follow-Up International Conference to Review the Implementation of the Outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development' in Doha, Qatar, from 29 November to 2 December 2008, UNGA agreed that the Conference will include plenary meetings and six interactive multi-stakeholder round tables on the six major thematic areas of the Monterrey Consensus. They also agreed that it will result in an agreed outcome as well as summaries of discussions, which will be included in the report of the Conference. As regards the preparatory process of the Conference, direct intergovernmental consultations will continue with the participation of all states and the major institutional stakeholders involved in the financing for development process. In addition, six substantive informal review sessions on the six thematic areas of the Monterrey Consensus will be scheduled during January to June 2008. These meetings will be followed by informal consultations on the contents of the outcome document of the Conference, with a view toward presenting the first draft outcome document by the end of July 2008, followed by informal consultations and drafting sessions from September 2008 until the commencement of the Review Conference. Links to further information UN News release, 19 December 2007 UN News release, 18 December 2007 Draft Resolution on the “Follow-up International Conference ... Newsletter “The Road to Doha”

November 2007

MDG AFRICA INITIATIVE TO DEVELOP MDG BUSINESS PLANS FOR AFRICA

On 30 November 2007, the Office of the UN Deputy-Secretary General in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Bureau for Development and Policy, hosted the Second Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Africa Working Group at UN headquarters in New York, US. The MDG Africa Initiative was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 14 September 2007, and aims to bring together the UN system, international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the African Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, and the European Commission. The MDG Africa Initiative is focusing on seven thematic sectors considered of relevance to boost the implementation of the MDGs in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2015, including: health; education; infrastructure; agriculture and food security; statistical capacity; aid predictability; and strengthening joint efforts at the country level. The initiative has a political and a technical forum represented by the MDG Africa Steering Committee, chaired by the Secretary-General with the heads of agencies as members, and the MDG Africa Working Group, with membership across agencies. On the occasion of the Second MDG Africa Working Group, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro requested that three strategic recommendations be contained in the business plans for each thematic sector, including how international mechanisms should be strengthened or reformed to support a scaling up for the achievement of the MDGs in Africa. Before closing, she noted that, as agreed by the MDG Africa Steering Group, its next semi-annual meeting is scheduled for early 2008 with the venue and date to be confirmed soon. The MDG Africa Steering Committee is expected to consider the recommendations and the business plans presented by the MDG Africa Working Group. Link to further information MDG Africa Steering Group website
UNGA SECOND COMMITTEE ADOPTS FOUR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT RESOLUTIONS

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met on 30 November 2007 to take action on four draft resolutions, calling on governments and stakeholders to take action on several climate change and sustainable development-related issues. The resolutions included: Implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (A/C.2/62/L.40); Follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (A/C.2/62/L.41); Protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind (A/C.2/62/L.38); and the report of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme on its twenty-fourth session (A/C.2/62/L.39). All resolutions were adopted without a vote. Link to further information UN News release, 30 November 2007
UNGA ADOPTS CLIMATE CHANGE RESOLUTION

On 19 November 2007, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) met at UN headquarters in New York, US, to take action on a draft resolution (A/62/L.11/Rev.1) submitted by UNGA President Srgjan Kerim, requesting the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report of the UN systems' activities in relation to climate change. UN member States adopted the resolution without a vote. The resolution originates from the consensus reached during the general debate of the 62nd UNGA session, under the theme “Responding to Climate Change,” to develop a global response to climate change. The report is expected to provide an important input for the thematic debate on climate change scheduled for early February 2008. Links to further information UN Press release, 19 November 2007 Letter from UNGA President Kerim, containing draft resolutio..., 16 November 2007
UN RESOLUTION ANNOUNCES DECADE OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT FOR CHERNOBYL-AFFECTED TERRITORIES

On 16 November 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted resolution A/62/L.12, which declares the period from 2007-2016 as a “decade of recovery and sustainable development” for territories in Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine that were affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. The resolution states that the goal of the decade is a return to normal life for affected communities, while noting the daunting challenges that the region still faces. The UN Development Programme has been assigned to draft a unified UN action plan and coordinating the work on the decade. Link to further information UNDP Press release, 16 November 2007
UNESCO ADOPTS STRATEGY FOR COMING SIX YEARS

The 34th session of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) General Conference met from 16 October-2 November 2007, in Paris, France, bringing together more than 4000 participants. The conference adopted UNESCO's Medium Term Strategy for 2008-2013, which sets out five priorities: attaining life long quality education for all; mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development; addressing emerging ethical challenges; fostering cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; and building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication. The event also featured the exhibition “Planet Earth: From Space to Place,” displaying UNESCO's activities in relation to sustainable development and climate change. Link to further information UNESCO Press release, 2 November 2007
PANEL DISCUSSION ASSESSES UN GLOBAL COMPACT PROGRESS

The UN General Assembly Second Committee (Economic and Financial) held a panel discussion on 1 November 2007 at UN headquarters in New York, US, to highlight the progress to date of the UN Global Compact, discuss the role of the initiative and provide further input to the Second Committee for a resolution on the mandate of the Global Compact Office. The UN Global Compact is the UN's voluntary corporate social responsibility initiative, which aims to make global markets more sustainable and inclusive. Some participants emphasized that more training and regional platforms were needed to enhance the reach and effectiveness of the UN Global Compact, and others called for a monitoring mechanism to measure members' results and ensure that they adhered to the ten UN Global Compact's principles. Link to further information UN News release, 1 November 2007
UNEP CONVENES REGIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY CONSULTATIONS

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has convened six regional civil society consultations in preparation for the 9th UNEP Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF) and the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, which will take place on 19 and 20-22 February 2008, respectively, in Monaco. Participants at each consultation discussed “Globalization and the Environment: Mobilizing Finance to meet the Climate Challenge,” considered proposed changes for the Global Civil Society Forum Steering Committee, and heard a report on the UNEP Medium Term Strategy. In relation to the latter, John Scanlon, Special Advisor to the Executive Director, UNEP, introduced (via teleconference) the background on the UNEP Medium Term Strategy for the period 2010-2013, noting that it was prepared at the request of the Governing Council in February 2007 and in consultation with a Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR). He said it currently is 25 pages long, but is intended to be approximately 15 pages in its final form. It identifies six areas for UNEP leadership: climate change, ecosystem management, environmental governance, hazardous substances, natural disasters, and resource efficiency. Emphasis is placed on the role of scientific policy advice, collaboration and governance, among others. Scanlon reported that the draft Strategy will be made publically available when it is released as part of the documentation for the Governing Council meeting in February 2008. Link to further information UNEP 2007 Regional Civil Society Consultations webpage

October 2007

UNGA SECOND COMMITTEE STARTS CONSIDERING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) convened a debate on sustainable development from 29-30 October 2007, at UN headquarters in New York, US. Among the speakers, John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, expressed pessimism about the chances of reducing disaster-related losses by 2015, emphasizing the importance of implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action. Several speakers noted the need to help small island developing States deal with their vulnerability to natural disasters and the socio-economic impact of climate change. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), said that city planning would determine the pace of global warming, due to the inextricable link between urbanization, urban poverty and climate change. The Committee also heard presentations of sustainable development-related reports by representatives from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Under its agenda item sustainable development, the Committee will consider: implementation of Agenda 21, the programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development; the follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; the protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind; the implementation of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification; the Convention on Biological Diversity; the report of the Governing Council of UNEP on its twenty-forth session; sustainable mountain development; and the promotion of new and renewable sources of energy. Links to further information UN Press release, 29 October 2007 UN Press release, 30 October 2007 Second Committee website
IEG CONSULTATIONS RESUME

The UN General Assembly consultations on International Environmental Governance (IEG) resumed on 26 October 2007, at UN headquarters in New York, US, to hear member States giving a second round of responses to Co-chairs Maurer and Heller's Options Paper. The EU said that a step-by-step approach and a broader transformation of the IEG system, including the establishment of a UN Environment Organization (UNEO), are two complementary approaches to strengthening IEG. The EU also distributed a report containing a detailed reaction to the Options Paper. Favoring an integrated and holistic approach, the G77/China advocated not separating discussions on the Building Blocks from the boarder transformation of the IEG system. The Russian Federation expressed doubt that the process of reviewing the Building Blocks could be concluded by the end of 2007, as proposed in the Options Paper. Co-chair Maurer noted that the two main proposals made by member States in relation to the Options Paper, looking at the issues in an integrated and holistic manner, and addressing some issues where progress could be more easily achieved, are not necessarily contradictory. He said that no more meetings are scheduled in the near future. Finally, Maurer recalled that the Joint Inspection Unit will soon produce a management review of environmental activities in the UN system, noting that a briefing on this will be arranged once the report is released. Links to further information Center for UN Reform Education News release, 26 October 2007 The EU report on the Options Paper
UNEP FI MEETING IN MELBOURNE ADDRESSES SUSTAINABLE FINANCE CHALLENGES

The UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) Global Roundtable, entitled “Awareness to Action: Sustainable Finance for Today's Global Markets,” brought together more than 450 participants from 34 countries from 24-25 October 2007 in Melbourne, Australia, to discuss new ideas and challenges in relation to sustainable finance. During one of the Roundtable sessions, participants heard examples of how UNEP FI signatories are turning awareness of the environment and climate change into action, highlighting the disparity between the long-term issue of climate change and the short-term focus that a lot of asset managers take. Among other things, participants agreed that, given the extensive range of sustainability issues that financial institutions face and are expected to deal with, the UNEP FI's greatest ongoing challenge is to mainstream the sustainable development culture across the financial services spectrum. Link to further information UNEP FI Roundtable website
UNGA ROUND TABLE SAYS “ONE UN” PILOT PROGRAMME IS EFFECTIVE MODEL

On 19 October 2007, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) organized a round table discussion at UN headquarters, New York, US, to discuss the triennial comprehensive policy review of UN's operational activities under the theme “How can the United Nations development system optimally respond to different countries' needs and priorities in their efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?” Several speakers stressed that developing countries had a better chance of meeting national development priorities and the Millennium Development Goals when donors allowed them to design and manage the national development process, noting that the “One UN” pilot programme, which oversees the UN's activities in selected countries to avoid overlapping mandates, was an effective model. Many participants highlighted the robust systems of the “One UN” pilot countries Rwanda and Albania as examples of how a single development strategy and a positive cycle of leadership and accountability could be accomplished. Link to further information UN News release, 19 October 2007
CONFERENCE ADDRESSES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION IN EUROPE

The sixth Environment for Europe (EfF) Ministerial Conference took place in Belgrade, Serbia, from 10-12 October 2007, bringing together some 2000 participants, including ministers and high-level delegates from 56 countries, as well as representatives from UN organizations and non-governmental organizations. The event sought to review progress in implementing agreed commitments related to energy and water for sustainable development, biodiversity and education since the fifth EfE Ministerial Conference, which met in Kiev in 2003. Participants at the conference agreed that progress on environmental protection has been made and emphasized that the Kiev commitments serve as guidelines in the policy development for environmental protection in the area. Link to further information IISD RS coverage
UNGA DEBATE FOCUSES ON MDGs, CLIMATE CHANGE, FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT

The general debate of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Second Committee (Economic and Financial) convened from 8-10 October 2007, at UN headquarters, New York, US, with Chair Kirsti Lintonen (Finland) noting that the Committee's primary concern was to ensure that the international community took appropriate steps towards equitable, sustainable development in all countries, and particularly achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Highlighting the “implementation gap” on the path towards attaining the MDGs, Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Secretary-General, cited the new MDG Africa Steering Group established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon aimed to improve aid predictability and effectiveness, and to forge stronger country-level programmes. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, suggested that a global response to climate change should include innovative financing mechanisms and better avenues for the transfer of cleaner technologies. Several speakers stressed the need for debt cancellation, reform of the international financial architecture, and urgent attention to the causes and effects of climate change in order to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. Links to further information UN Press release, 8 October 2007 UN Press release, 9 October 2007 UN Press release, 10 October 2007
EMG Annual Meeting Considers Current Work Programme, Role in IEG Process

October 2008: The annual meeting of the Environment Management Group (EMG) was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and took place at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 8 October 2007. The meeting sought to review and discuss the EMG's work as well as progress made in the areas of a climate-neutral UN system and sustainable procurement, and to address the role and contribution of the EMG to the ongoing International Environment Governance (IEG) process. The meeting concluded that it was premature for the EMG to establish a formal Issue Management Group on IEG, given the open-ended nature of the IEG process. Participants agreed on four key areas of interest in relation to IEG, including: i) initiating issue- or theme-based cooperation that could result in enhanced systemic coherence; ii) developing an issue-based approach to enhance synergies among Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs); iii) clarifying the mandates and roles of the different intergovernmental institutions dealing with environment and sustainable development; and iv) identifying ways to increase policy coherence between the three pillars of sustainable development, as well as between the environmental and economic/trade agendas. On structural issues, it was agreed that the experience with implementing the current work programme, through the issue management groups on the climate-neutral UN and sustainable procurement, would provide a good foundation for developing ideas in relation to the EMG's terms of reference, to be considered at the next annual meeting (IISD RS sources).
UNWTO CONFERENCE DECLARATION CALLS ON TOURISM SECTOR TO RESPOND TO CLIMATE CHANGE

The second International Conference on Climate Change and Tourism, organized by the UN World Tourism Organization, the UN Environment Programme and the UN World Meteorological Organization, convened in Davos, Switzerland, from 3-5 October 2007. The overall aim of the meeting was to determine future action on mitigation, adaptation, the global carbon market and financing responses to climate change for the post-2012 period. The Davos Declaration adopted at the meeting states, among other things, that “the tourism sector must rapidly respond to climate change, within the evolving UN framework, if it is to grow in a sustainable manner.” The Davos Declaration and the conclusions of the meeting will be presented at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007. Link to further information UNWTO Press release, 3 October 2007
ECOSOC RESUMED SESSION SELECTS THEMES FOR 2008, 2009 AMR SESSIONS

The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) resumed its 2007 substantive session on 4 October 2007, to take up issues that had been deferred from its 2-27 July 2007 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. Among the proposals adopted was the multi-year programme of work for the newly mandated Annual Ministerial Review (AMR). For 2008, the AMR will focus on implementation of internationally agreed goals and commitments related to sustainable development. In 2009, the focus will be on implementing the agreed global public health goals. The focus of the July 2007 AMR was “strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development.” Link to further information ECOSOC News Release, 4 October 2008
SYMPOSIUM DICUSSES LINK BETWEEN ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARDS AND MARKET ACCESS

The symposium “Environmental Requirements and Market Access: Turning Challenges into Opportunities,” organized by the UN Environment Programme - the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNEP-UNCTAD) Capacity-Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development, took place on 3 October 2007, in Geneva, Switzerland. Discussions focused on how developing countries can benefit from the market opportunities and technologies created by new environmental standards and requirements in export markets, aiming to explore proactive policies to support theses opportunities, focusing particularly on organic agricultural products. Link to further information UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity-Building Task Force on Trade, Environme...
WORLD LEADERS RAISE CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE AT UNGA DEBATE

The General Debate of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) convened from 25 September-3 October 2007 at UN headquarters in New York, US, gathering more than 190 heads of State and other high-level political leaders of all UN member States. Many speakers discussed the upcoming UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December 2007, urging participants to agree on a clear road map for establishing a future global framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012. In addition, Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered to host a summit on the environment in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, entitled the Rio +20 Conference, two decades after the landmark international UN Conference on Environment and Development. Link to further information UN Webcasts, 25 September-3 October 2007
UNESCO DEBATE CONSIDERS KNOWLEDGE SOCIETIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE

A thematic debate on The Construction of Knowledge Societies and Climate Change, organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Executive Board, took place in Paris, France, on 2 October 2007. Speakers included, among others, Environment and Technology Ministers from France and Portugal, as well as a representative from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, said that the two emerging challenges of constructing knowledge societies and climate change will become key elements of UNESCO's future actions. Several speakers insisted that the development of knowledge societies required “close cooperation among the members of the United Nations family,” and emphasized UNESCO's rare capacity to act in an interdisciplinary fashion and target both institutions and people. Link to further information UNESCO Press release, 2 October 2007

September 2007

France's Foreign Minister Discusses IEG with Civil Society

September 2007: On 26 September 2007, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner addressed civil society and business community representatives on the topic of international environmental governance (IEG) at an informal meeting in New York, US, hosted by the UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS). The overall aim of the meeting was for participants to share their visions on the way civil society and the private sector could engage in the formulation of a new IEG architecture. Reiterating the need to establish a UN Environment Organization (UNEO), Kouchner suggested that a formal working group within the UN General Assembly (UNGA) be formed to advance this matter. To achieve progress on IEG, Peter Maurer, Co-chair of the UN General Assembly consultations on IEG, said that progress is necessary on issues such as financing for development and UN reform. Representatives from non-governmental organizations noted the need to mainstream work on the environment and discuss if a UNEO can help achieve this, and stressed the importance of maintaining an open dialogue between governments and civil society on the UNEO issue. [UN-NGLS meeting's report]
UN Holds “Largest-Ever” Leaders' Meeting on Climate Change

September 2007: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has convened the largest-ever meeting of global political leaders on climate change. The event, which took place at UN Headquarters in New York, US, on 24 September 2007, was attended by 80 heads of State or Government, and representatives from 150 countries. The event involved four plenary sessions focused on adaptation, mitigation, technology and financing. The meeting was entitled, “The Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change.” “Today I heard a clear call from world leaders for a breakthrough on climate change in Bali,” Ban said at the conclusion of the meeting. The next major meeting on climate change will take in Bali in December 2007, when negotiators at the 13th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will seek to agree on a framework for reaching agreement on combating climate change after 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period ends. “We have come a long way in building understanding and a new consensus this year. More remains to be done, but this event has sent a powerful political signal to the world, and to the Bali conference, that there is the will, and the determination, at the highest level, to break with the past and act decisively,” Ban said. A Chair's summary of the 24 September meeting stressed the “clear call from world leaders for a breakthrough on climate change in Bali” and highlighted the need for swift action. It also noted the need to: make the Adaptation Fund operational as quickly as possible; achieve the Millennium Development Goals; halve emissions by 2050; limit temperature increase to 2°C; make deep emission reductions in industrialized countries; minimize emissions from deforestation; support and scale-up technological solutions and cooperation; improve energy efficiency; ensure that adequate resources are available for developing countries to combat climate change; and strengthen the Clean Development Mechanism. The Chair's summary concluded by noting that this event was not intended as an occasion for negotiations, but was meant to express the political will of world leaders at the highest level to tackle the problem. The summary added that the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Bali should be the “starting point for intense negotiations driven by an agreed agenda.” It stressed that these negotiations should be comprehensive, inclusive, and lead to a single multilateral framework, and that all other processes or initiatives should be compatible with the UNFCCC process and feed into it. While many world leaders attended this event, some media reports noted the absence of US President George Bush, who is hosting a meeting on climate change on 27 September, in Washington, DC. Links to further information Official event website Chair's Summary, 24 September 2007 UN news releases/reports from the event BBC news report, 24 September 2007
WORKING GROUP OF MDG AFRICA STEERING GROUP SETS AGENDA

The Millennium Development Goals Africa Steering Group met for the first time on 20 September 2007 at UN headquarters in New York, US, gathering leading officials from, among others, the African Union, African Development Bank, European Union, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, UN Development Programme, and the World Bank. The Africa Steering Group was launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 14 September 2007 to help boost development in Africa, following reports that sub-Saharan Africa is off track to meet any of the Millennium Development Goals. The objective of the meeting was: to identify effective mechanisms to implement commitments in the areas of health, education, infrastructure, agriculture and food security; to improve aid predictability; and to strengthen joint efforts at the country level. The members of the Group intend to meet at least twice a year and to work in the “most results-oriented manner possible.” Links to further information UN News release, 20 September 2007 UN News release, 14 September 2007 MDG Africa Steering Group website
REFORM AGENDA AND CLIMATE CHANGE TOUCHED UPON AS UNGA ENDS 61ST SESSION, OPENS 62ND

On 17 September 2007, the 61st session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) formally ended with outgoing President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa handing over the gavel to President-elect Srgjan Kerim. In her concluding remarks, Sheikha Haya commended Member States' willingness to modernize the UN by, inter alia, finalizing the consultations that recommended concrete options to strengthen International Environmental Governance. She also noted that the consultations on System-wide Coherence had made some progress, emphasizing that Member States were less divided on substance than on the process itself. A few days earlier, Sheikha Haya had indicated in a letter to Member States that no agreement had been reached on the follow-up on the report entitled Recommendations contained in the Report of the High-level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment: Report of the Secretary-General, proposing that UNGA adopt a decision ensuring that the consultations continue during its 62nd session. On 18 September 2007, Srgjan Kerim officially opened the 62nd session of UNGA, remarking that true revitalization of UNGA will only happen if all Member States jointly address five priority issues: climate change; financing for development; achieving the Millennium Development Goals; counter-terrorism; and renewing UN management, effectiveness and coherence. Links to further information UNGA President's statement, 17 September 2007 UNGA President's letter, 14 September 2007 UNGA Press release, 18 September 2007
Environmental Reform Meeting Reviews Options Paper

September 2007: Member States gathered at a UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting on 10 September 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York, US, to respond to the Options Paper presented by the Co-Chairs of the UNGA Informal Consultative Process on the Institutional Framework of the UN's Environment Activities Claude Heller (Mexico) and Peter Maurer (Switzerland), in June 2007. The Options paper is based on views expressed by member States earlier in the consultation process and identifies seven building blocks where progress can be made to strengthen international environmental governance (IEG), in addition to a section that deals s with options for the broader transformation of the IEG system. One report of the meeting suggested that there is a "growing momentum" to strengthen IEG, although not all observers agreed with this assessment. It is considered likely that the incoming General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim will ask Co-Chairs Heller and Maurer to continue the consultations in October 2007. [MEA Bulletin summary of the meeting]
DPI/NGO CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Sixtieth Annual DPI/NGO Conference, organized by the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) in cooperation with associated non-governmental organizations (NGOs), was entitled Climate Change: How it Affects us All. The event brought together 2,500 civil society representatives from 90 countries at UN Headquarters, New York, US, from 5-7 September 2007. Various plenary sessions, roundtables and workshops reviewed the latest scientific evidence on climate change, including its impact on vulnerable populations, water security, land use, and the politics of energy. In a Conference Declaration, the participants committed themselves to a Framework for Action over the next year that would propose NGO solutions on, inter alia, developing and implementing plans for adaptation and mitigation. Links to further information UN News release, 5 July 2007 Conference Declaration 60th DPI/NGO Conference website
Brazilian Conference on IEG Uncovers Areas of Convergence and Discrepancy

September 2007: The Brazilian government hosted a conference entitled “Ministerial meeting on Environment and Sustainable Development: Challenges for International Governance,” from 3-4 September 2007, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The event gathered Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Environment from more than 20 countries, and sought to provide an opportunity to informally discuss issues related to international environmental governance (IEG) in the context of sustainable development. Among other areas of convergence, participants agreed that: a clear mandate, appropriate and stable financial resources, and political authority is vital for an effective institutional structure of IEG; developing a new paradigm for cooperation (North-South-South) could facilitate international environmental action; and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is as an insufficient financing source. On next steps to take collectively, the meeting noted the need to identify means and modalities for the progress of this dialogue, and to set a long-term objective for the discussion on environmental governance in the context of sustainable development. In a letter dated 24 September 2007, Brazil forwarded a summary of the meeting to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (A/62/356). [Conference website] [Brazil's message to the UN Secretary-General]

August 2007

DECLARATION URGES COORDINATED ACTION ON ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

The First Ministerial Regional Forum on Environment and Health gathered environment and health ministers from the Asia-Pacific region in Bangkok, Thailand, from 8-9 August 2007, to review national activities that address environmental health risks. The meeting endorsed the Bangkok Declaration on Environment and Health, which seeks to strengthen cooperation between countries in the region in an effort to reduce the deaths associated with various environmental health hazards. The Declaration identifies a number of environmental and health priorities, including air quality, water supply, hazardous waste, climate change, and ecosystem change, and it includes a regional Charter aimed at helping South-East and East Asian countries develop joint policies and programmes on environment and health. A Second Ministerial Regional Forum is planned in 2010 to review the progress in implementing the regional Charter. Link to further information UNEP Press release, 9 August 2007
CHILDREN DISCUSS ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGES FACING AFRICA

The Regional Children's Conference on the Environment gathered more than 200 children from 35 countries in Africa and Norway in Yaoundé, Cameroon, from 30 July-2 August 2007. The conference, which was co-organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection in Cameroon, with the financial support of Young Agenda 21 in Norway, sought to provide a platform for children to learn about the environment through plenary sessions, hands-on workshops and field trips, as well as to share views and concerns about topics such as climate change, forest and biodiversity, land degradation and desertification, water resources, waste management and recycling. The Yaoundé Conference is part of UNEP's strategy to enhance the participation of children and youth in environmental activities and management. Link to further information UNEP Press release, 30 July 2007
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY HOLDS INFORMAL CLIMATE DEBATE

An informal thematic debate of the UN General Assembly has been held on the subject of “Climate change as a global challenge.” The discussion, which took place from 31 July-2 August 2007, at UN headquarters in New York, US, involved panel sessions of experts, as well as statements from dozens of government representatives. The event focused on both the adaptation and mitigation aspects of climate change, as well as on the UN negotiations designed to reach an agreement for the post-2012 period, when the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period ends. A number of speakers said the high-level event on 24 September 2007 called by the UN Secretary-General should provide political momentum for an agreement at the Bali conference in December 2007 on a “roadmap” for completing post-2012 negotiations by 2009. The urgency of the climate change problem and the importance of equity, fairness and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in developing a future agreement were also underscored by many speakers. A number of member states also affirmed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the appropriate forum for negotiations. Link to further information IISD Reporting Services Briefing Note

July 2007

UNESCO REMOVES SITES FROM WORLD HERITAGE IN DANGER

The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee met in Christchurch, New Zealand from 23 June-29 July 2007, to examine the state of conservation of sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List and on the List of World Heritage in Danger. During its session, the Committee decided to inscribe 22 new sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List, and in an unprecedented decision, the Committee deleted one property from the List, the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman), owing to Oman's failure to preserve the outstanding universal value of the Sanctuary. The Committee also announced that The Everglades National Park (US), Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras), Royal Palaces of Abomey (Benin) and Kathmandu Valley (Nepal) have been removed from the List of World Heritage in Danger. Link to further information UNESCO World Heritage Centre web site, 29 June 2007
ECOSOC Concludes Summer Session

July 2007: The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met in Geneva, Switzerland, from 2-27 July 2007, for its annual substantive session. This year marked the launch of two new elements: the Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and the Development Cooperation Forum. During the first AMR, ministers from Bangladesh, Barbados, Ethiopia, Ghana, Cambodia and Cape Verde presented national voluntary presentations, following which participants responded. On the final day, ECOSOC delegates suspended the 2007 substantive session. Over the course of the July meeting, ECOSOC adopted texts on, inter alia, the UN's role in providing full and productive employment and decent work for all, the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child, and ECOSOC's role in the integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of and follow-up to major UN conferences and summits. Among these decisions, on 10 July the ministers and heads of delegations participating in the high-level segment adopted a Declaration, in which they “reaffirmed their commitment to prioritize actions and allocate resources to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in all countries and agreed to undertake measures to increase access of malnourished people to food.” They also called for, inter alia, the promotion and facilitation of access to and the development, transfer and diffusion of technologies, and for all countries to adopt strategies for reducing urban poverty. On 19 July, delegates debated the follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development. During discussions, developing countries noted great challenges for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and highlighted the need for full implementation of the Monterrey Consensus. Many countries also emphasized that efforts to promote dialogue among the Bretton Woods Institutions and the UN should continue. In New York, the Financing for Development Office and NGLS have opened the application process for participation in the High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development (22-23 October 2007), as well as informal interactive hearings with representatives of civil society organizations (11 October 2007). On 23 July, delegates considered a text concerning sustainable development. It adopted decisions on the dates of the meetings of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) during its 2008/2009 cycle, took note of the CSD's report on its fifteenth session and approved the provisional agenda for CSD-16. ECOSOC also decided, inter alia, that there should be an intervening period of at least two weeks between the closing of the sessions of relevant intergovernmental bodies and the beginning of the CSD session. Links to further information ECOSOC Press Releases The Road to Doha Newsletter, August 2007 UN Non Governmental Liaison Service webpage
UNEP LAUNCHES INITIATIVE TO REVIEW BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the 2010 Biodiversity Indicator Partnership on 12 July 2007, in Paris, France, during the second meeting of the Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The US$ 8 million initiative, which receives funding from, among others, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), seeks to create a set of benchmarks to assess whether measures to protect the world's biodiversity are effective. The partnership will introduce new indicators, such as the level of biodiversity protection in forests, farmlands and fisheries, and the level to which humans are affected by changing biodiversity, to gain greater insight into whether the 2010 Biodiversity Target is on the right track. The 2010 Biodiversity Target, to achieve a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level, was established in 2002 by Parties to the CBD, to which 189 States and the European Community belong. The first phase of the Partnership will run from mid-2007 until mid-2010, and activities are in progress. Link to further information UNEP Press release, 12 July 2007
GLOBAL FORUM ON MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT DEVELOPS RECOMMENDATIONS

The first state-led meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development brought together representatives from 155 countries and international agencies in Brussels, Belgium, from 9-11 July 2007. The Forum stressed the inevitability and potentially equalizing force of migration as well as its inherent risks. It sought to provide a space outside domestic political arenas to understand how policy makers can make migration work better for development, and was organized around roundtables on human capital development and labor mobility, remittances and other diaspora resources, and enhancing institutional and policy coherence and promoting partnerships. UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon urged immediate action to improve the plight of 200 million migrants worldwide. The conclusions and recommendations of the Chair, Ambassador Regine De Clerq, highlighted the cross-cutting themes of capacity building, policy coherence, human rights and gender equality. Links to further information Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) UN News Centre, 10 July 2007 Final Conclusions and recommendations of the Chair
GLOBAL COMPACT SUMMIT URGES CLIMATE AGREEMENT, ADOPTS DECLARATION ON RESPONSIBLE BUSINESS PRACTICES

The second UN Global Compact Leaders Summit gathered more than 1000 participants from business, government and civil society in Geneva, Switzerland, from 5-6 July 2007. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who chairs the UN Global Compact Board, opened the meeting by remarking that the Global Compact has lived up to its promise to bring business together with other stakeholders, as well as to infuse markets and economies with universal values. The Leaders Summit, which is the largest event convened by the UN on the issue of corporate citizenship, launched a number of new initiatives and projects, including: a Business Leadership Platform on climate change; a set of Principles for Responsible Management Education; and a CEO Water Mandate. In their statement on climate change, business leaders urged governments to take “urgent and extensive action” to avoid the risk of serious damage to global prosperity. The statement commits more than 150 business leaders to take on voluntary targets to increase energy efficiency and reduce their carbon burden, and urges governments to provide a “robust global policy framework” for combating climate change. In addition, three landmark studies from the UN Global Compact, McKinsey and Goldman Sachs that were released argue that integrating corporate responsibility and related environmental, social and governance policies into management practices delivers long-term business value. Participants also adopted the ‘Geneva Declaration,' pledging to comply with labor, human rights, environmental and anti-corruption standards. Links to further information UN Global Compact Press release, 5 July 2007 UN Global Compact Press release, 6 July 2007 UN News release, 6 July 2007 The Geneva Declaration Caring for Climate: The Business Leadership Platform (Summit...

June 2007

CONSULTATIONS ON SYSTEM-WIDE COHERENCE CONTINUE

Member States met at UN Headquarters, New York, US, from 20-22 June 2007, to continue informal consultations on the recommendations contained in the report of the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence, focusing the discussion on the cluster areas: Humanitarian issues and recovery; Gender; Governance and Institutional Reform; and Business Practices. Delegates were also briefed on the status of the One UN pilots in Tanzania, Albania and Rwanda. The cluster areas Human Rights and Funding will be addressed in the near future. Links to further information Center for UN reform Education website Letters from Co-Chairs, 19 June 2007 Center for UN Reform Education report, 2 July 2007
Latest IEG Proposals Debated

June 2007: The latest proposals for improving international environmental governance (IEG) were the focus of a panel discussion held in New York, US, on 21 June 2007, hosted by the Center for UN Reform Education. The session, which was attended by UN officials and civil society representatives, involved presentations on a new options paper from the Co-Chairs of the informal consultative process on the UN's environmental activities and a French perspective on a possible UN Environment Organization (UNEO). Benito Jimenez (Mexico) outlined the recommendations in the new Options Paper, and explained that the paper takes a two-tier approach, with a first set of options and seven “building blocks” that he suggested could be implemented quickly. He said that changes in these areas could be undertaken within existing mandates and institutional frameworks. Jimenez then outlined a second tier of issues relating to the broader transformation of the governance system, including the possibility of transforming the UN Environment Programme into a UNEO. He noted that this was likely to require ongoing discussions. On future steps, he indicated that informal consultations on the new paper would be held over the next two months, with the possibility of the General Assembly holding a stocktaking meeting in early September 2007. Laurent Pic (France) presented the French Government's perspective on the UNEO proposal, stressing that the French had proposed a UNEO because the current system was not equipped to meet the world's growing environmental challenges. He noted the need for more scientific assessment and better coordination within the UN system, said the Environmental Management Group had not been fulfilling its role in a very effective way, and noted the proliferation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). Outlining general principles for UNEO, he said it should be “based on UNEP,” be the environmental pillar of the UN, and be headquartered in Nairobi. He also felt that UNEO could play a coordinating role among the MEAs. Regarding sustainable development governance, he said the environment pillar is currently the weakest and needs strengthening, and noted ongoing problems with the Commission on Sustainable Development. Hilary French, Worldwatch Institute, presented an historic perspective on the governance debate and suggested that these treaties had so far not prevented the further deterioration of the environment. She stressed that MEAs must address domestic national considerations and find ways to overcome vested interests, citing the Kyoto Protocol's market mechanisms as a way to engage the private sector. An NGO speaker expressed concern at the shift in how UN conferences and processes are now organized. He supported a return to the Rio “Earth Summit” model that involved a comprehensive and inclusive preparatory process. He also endorsed a formal process to consider a UNEO. [IISD RS sources] [Meeting webpage, 21 June 2007]
BALI WORKSHOP DISCUSSES MAINSTREAMING DRYLANDS INTO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORKS

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) Drylands Development Centre, in collaboration with the UN Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD) Global Mechanism and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), convened an international workshop from 18-20 June 2007 in Bamako, Mali, gathering governments, civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners to discuss how environment and particularly drylands issues can be integrated into national development frameworks. The objectives of the workshop included: to validate mainstreaming generic guidelines; to promote a common understanding between UNDP and UNEP of the challenges and opportunities for mainstreaming drylands issues into national development frameworks; and to share experiences, lessons and best practices in the mainstreaming process. Link to further information UNDP Press release, 18 June 2007
MDG DEBATE ASSERTS PARTNERSHIPS ESSENTIAL FOR PROGRESS

The debate “Financing development to achieve the MDGs,” organised by the Foreign Ministry of Qatar in cooperation with the UN General Assembly (UNGA), convened in Doha, Qatar, from 17-18 June 2007, gathering some 50 prominent representatives from governments and international organizations. The meeting was a follow-up to the thematic debate “Partnerships to achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” held in New York, US, in November 2006, and focused discussions on, inter alia: domestic resources mobilization, including by least developed countries; delivering on commitments, predictability and effectiveness; and successful examples of scaling up for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In her opening remarks, UNGA President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa noted that Sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieving any of the MDGs, and called for investments in agriculture, health, education and infrastructure to fight poverty and support economic growth. She also underlined that the MDGs will only be achieved if partner countries, donors, the private sector and civil society are fully engaged. Several speakers noted that the debate marked an important step in preparation for the 2008 Review Conference on Financing for Development. Link to further information Meeting programme, statements and documents
FAO ORGANIZES WORKSHOP ON PESTICIDE MANAGEMENT IN SOUTHERN AFRICA

The FAO Plant Protection Service organized a workshop on “Pesticide Management in Southern Africa,” which convened in Umhlanga Rocks, Durban, South Africa, from 14-16 June 2007. The pesticide life-cycle concept, which is included in the Code of Conduct, was the guiding principle discussed at this workshop. Several key issues were identified during the deliberations, including the need for: development/strengthening of pesticide acts; clarity in registration process; laboratory facilities; improved coordination among various departments; increased awareness of chemical risks; increased understanding of the impact of chemical misuse on the environment; and disposal options for obsolete pesticides. Link to further information Workshop report
Environmental Reform Co-Chairs Present Options Paper on Strengthening IEG

June 2007: The Co-Chairs of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) consultations on the UN's environmental activities, Claude Heller (Mexico) and Peter Maurer (Switzerland), presented their Options Paper at a UNGA meeting on 14 June 2007 at UN headquarters, New York, US. The paper outlines proposals for seven building blocks to strengthen international environmental governance (IEG): scientific assessment, monitoring and early warning capacity; inter-agency coordination and cooperation; multilateral environmental agreements; regional presence and activities at the regional level; the Bali Strategic Plan, capacity building, technology support; IT, partnerships and advocacy; and financing. In addition, the paper includes a chapter on the broader transformation of the IEG system, including the possibility of transforming the UN Environment Programme into a UN Environment Organization (UNEO). The Co-Chairs announced that they would conduct consultations in the coming weeks with all delegations and are hoping to convene a UNGA plenary meeting in the beginning of September 2007, based on the feedback they had received. They also suggested that formal negotiations on IEG should start before the end of the 62nd session of UNGA. [Reform the UN news update] [Co-Chair's Options Paper]
THIRTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE TO ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN CONCLUDES

The 38th Session of the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was held from 14 May to 1 June 2007 at UN headquarters in New York, US. The Committee, set up to monitor compliance with an international treaty on the issue, reviewed country reports from Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Pakistan, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Syrian Arab Republic and Vanuatu. The Committee's Chairperson, Dubravka Simonovic, indicated that the reports provided an opportunity for each State Party to establish a baseline for its compliance with the Convention. The Committee agreed that it will hold three annual sessions as a permanent measure. The 39th Session is scheduled to meet from 23 July to 10 August 2007, and will mark the occasion of the Committee's twenty-fifth anniversary. Links to further information CEDAW UN News Centre, 14 May 2007 UN ECOSOC Press release, 14 May 2007 UN ECOSOC Press release, 1 June 2007
EIGHTH UNSGAB SESSION ON WATER AND SANITATION HELD

The eighth session of the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board (UNSGAB) on Water and Sanitation, an independent body established in March 2004 by then UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, convened in Shanghai, China, from 31 May-1 June 2007. The Board, which advises the UN Secretary-General and galvanizes global action on water and sanitation issues, conducted a Dialogue aimed at securing Asian governments' commitment to implement all actions in the Hashimoto Action Plan. During the event, participants: discussed major challenges and solutions on water and sanitation in Asia; identified priority actions of the Hashimoto Action Plan vital to achieving the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation in Asia; and discussed ways to implement the priority actions of the Hashimoto Action Plan in Asia. In addition, a Joint Statement was adopted which contains a summary of the discussions and their shared understanding. Link to further information UNSGAB's eight session website

May 2007

UN FORUM FOCUSES ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' RIGHTS TO TERRITORIES, LANDS AND NATURAL RESOURCES

The sixth session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues met in New York, US, from 14-25 May 2007, with the theme “Territories, Lands and Natural Resources.” Over one thousand delegates from seventy countries participated at the forum, which sought to build support for a UN General Assembly vote to endorse a declaration protecting indigenous peoples' land and resource rights. Reaffirming indigenous peoples' central role in decision making concerning their lands and resources, the Forum urged States to take measures to halt land alienation in indigenous territories, through for example a moratorium on the sale and registration of land in areas occupied by indigenous peoples. Agenda items included: the implementation of recommendations on the six mandated areas of the Permanent Forum and on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); a dialogue on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people; data collection and disaggregation; and Asia and urban indigenous peoples and migration. The Forum made recommendations regarding economic and social development, health, education, culture, environment and human rights, and discussed ways for implementing recommendations within the framework of the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People to achieve the MDGs. With regard to the international regime on access and benefit-sharing under negotiation in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a number of indigenous peoples and organizations meeting during the session issued a declaration on indigenous peoples' rights to genetic resources and indigenous knowledge, urging the UNPFII to prepare a legal analysis on States, peoples and sovereignty and their relationship, scope and application, to assist the CBD parties in understanding sovereignty in the context of the Convention and the role of sovereignty in developing an international regime on ABS; prepare a report on the social, cultural and economic impacts of commercialization of genetic resources and indigenous knowledge on indigenous peoples; and recommend to the CBD that, consistent with international human rights law, States have an obligation to recognize and protect the rights of indigenous peoples to control access to the genetic resources that originate in their lands and waters, and associated traditional knowledge, as such recognition must be a key element of any international ABS regime. The 2008 session, to be held from 21 April to 2 May 2008, will focus on climate change, the Pacific region and indigenous languages. Links to further information UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues UN ECOSOC press release, 17 May 2007 UNPFII press release, 25 May 2007 UN press release, 25 May 2007 Declaration on indigenous peoples' rights to genetic resourc..., 20 May 2007
CONFERENCE ADDRESSES WILDLAND FIRE

The 4th International Wildland Fire Conference, held in Sevilla, Spain, from 13-17 May 2007, brought together over 1500 participants from 88 countries. Held under the auspices of the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the European Commission, participants discussed the state-of-the-art in fire science, fire management and fire management training on all continents. Participants recommended the development of, inter alia: a global-scale international resource sharing strategy, by the international wildland fire community, to assist countries with fire management planning activities; regional fire management strategies designed for the specific needs of regions; and an international framework for fire management standards. Links to further information Conference website FAO New Release, 31 May 2007
CSD-15 Concludes Without Adopting Negotiated Text

May 2007: The fifteenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-15) convened from 30 April-11 May 2007, at UN headquarters in New York, US. Building on the outcomes of CSD-14 (a “Review Year”), CSD-15 focused on identifying policies and options to expedite the implementation of commitments in the areas of energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change. Delegates convened for interactive discussions, heard regional perspectives and input from representatives of UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), Major Groups and others, and listened to statements from ministers and senior officials during a high-level segment. A Partnerships Fair, Learning Center and numerous side events were also held throughout the two-week session. Delegates also attempted to negotiate a document to identify policy options to further the thematic issues under discussion. Notwithstanding numerous formal and informal meetings, closed “Friends of the Chair” sessions and extensive discussions, as the scheduled close of the meeting approached there remained numerous unresolved issues in the energy for sustainable development and climate change sections of the document. Chair Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah (Qatar) presented a compromise document on Friday evening on a “take it or leave it” basis, but after regional consultations, the EU and Switzerland rejected it on the basis that it did not address the challenges in the thematic areas, meet world expectations or add value. The meeting closed at 8:45 pm with no adopted outcome document. The Chair announced that, in lieu of a negotiated outcome, a “Chair's Summary” of CSD-15 would be issued the following week. At the close of CSD-15, the first meeting of CSD-16 convened to select its Chair and Bureau. Francis Nhema, Minister of Environment and Tourism of Zimbabwe, was elected as CSD-16 Chair by a narrow margin on a secret ballot. [IISD RS coverage]
FAO ORGANIZES MEETING ON ORGANIC AGRICULTURE

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) organized an International Conference on Organic Agriculture and Food Security in connection with the 33rd Session of the Committee on Food Security. The Conference met from 3-5 May 2007, in Rome, Italy, and was organized in partnership with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, WWF and other organizations. The meeting identified organic agriculture's potential and limits in addressing the food security challenge, including conditions required for its success. Conference participants evaluated how organic agriculture can contribute to global, regional, national and household food security using the four dimensions of availability, access, stability and utilization for analytical reasons. Basic data, case studies and various ecological and economic models revealed the wealth of currently existing opportunities and challenges for global and local communities that need to be converted to concrete actions. Concluding the Conference, participants brought together findings and synthesized specific recommendations along the framework of the Right to Adequate Food. Links to further information FAO press release, 3 May 2007 Conference website Meeting report
Workshop Gathers Civil Society to Discuss IEG

May 2007: In the margins of the 15th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-15), the workshop ‘UNEO: A Champion for environment in the 21st Century: But what role for the stakeholders?' gathered some 25 representatives of civil society and the private sector as well as representatives of the French government in New York, US, on 3 May 2007, to discuss the reform of international environmental governance (IEG) and the idea of transforming the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) into a UN Environment Organization (UNEO). The workshop also addressed existing best practices of stakeholders' participation in international fora, including the International Labor Organization and the Aarhus Convention, and participants cautioned against the replication of the CSD or UNEP model of engagement in a UNEO. As a way forward, ANPED, Stakeholder Forum and UN-Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS) will develop a matrix on stakeholder engagement models for input into the formulation of a UNEO. [UN-NGLS report]

April 2007

Delegates at UNFF-7 Begin Deliberations

April 2007: The seventh session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF-7) commenced this week at UN Headquarters in New York. Participants adopted an agenda that calls for them to formulate and adopt a multi-year programme of work (MYPOW), including a description and scheduling of the tasks for the period 2008-2015, and to conclude and adopt a non-legally binding instrument (NLBI) on all types of forests. A multi-stakeholder dialogue is also scheduled to present stakeholders' priority areas of action with respect to the MYPOW and salient themes and perspectives on the NLBI. Other agenda items include consideration of enhanced cooperation and policy and programme coordination, and provision of further guidance to the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF). Preparatory meetings for UNFF-7 were held in Liberville, Gabon (3-4 April 2007) for African countries, and in Bogotá, Colombia (25-27 March 2007) for member countries of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO). Participants discussed the MYPOW, the NLBI, means of implementation and regional involvement. [IISD RS coverage][ECOSOC News Release, 13 April 2007]
EU PRESENTS SYSTEM TO MONITOR GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

A conference on Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) entitled “The Way to the European Earth Observation System GMES - Munich Roadmap” took place on 17 April 2007 in Munich, Germany. GMES is a joint initiative of the EU and the European Space Agency, which is designed to provide information services on environment, climate change and security and enable effective policy decisions in these fields. The Munich Roadmap, presented at the conference, summarizes the GMES architecture and proposes principles for the operational implementation of European Earth Observation Services GMES, including milestones for the way forward. The first GMES services - Emergency Response, Land Monitoring and Marine - are in the implementation process and expected to be ready by 2008. Links to further information German EU Presidency press release, 17 April 2007 The Munich Roadmap
HIGH-LEVEL MEETING OF ECOSOC, BWI, WTO AND UNCTAD CONSIDERS DECISION MAKING, FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT

The tenth high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) with the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs), World Trade Organization (WTO) and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) focused on good governance, developing countries' participation in decision-making, effective use of trade and investment policies, and innovative means of financing for development. Participants gathered at UN headquarters in New York, US, on 16 April 2007, also addressed developing countries' market access, international economic, monetary and fiscal policies, and agricultural subsidies. Several speakers highlighted the contribution that their meeting would make in the preparations for ECOSOC's first Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum in July and to the General Assembly's High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development at the end of 2007, as well as the follow-up international conference on financing for development, to be held in Doha, Qatar, in 2008. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted that many of the forums that take crucial decisions about developing countries' economic and social future were designed some 60 years ago and poorly reflect their need for a voice in decision making. He said that the launching of the Development Cooperation Forum should help improve international oversight of development assistance and encouraged the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO to be active participants in that initiative. Links to further information ECOSOC Press Release, 16 April 2007 Website for the meeting
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS STREAMLINED UN WILL BENEFIT ALL

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented his report “Recommendations contained in the report of the High-level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment” at a General Assembly meeting on 16 April 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York, US, saying that he had benefited greatly from extensive consultations with Member States when assessing the recommendations. The Secretary-General said the Panel had produced thought-provoking and far-reaching proposals to address the shortcomings of the UN system, including fragmentation at the country level and a lack of synergy at the global level, and noted that the recommendations deserved the international community's full engagement. He also stated that moving forward on system-wide coherence was a “triple win” solution and vision for the UN system, developing countries and donor countries. Stressing that the promise of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was central to delivering the broader development agenda, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa said it was the international community's duty to ensure global economic stability and prosperity, and the Panel's report presented an important opportunity to do this. In their ensuing statements, most countries generally agreed with the Panel's recommendations and welcomed the Secretary-General's call for an open and transparent intergovernmental review on ways to implement the recommendations. Pakistan, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the Non-Alignment Movement, stressed that development cooperation should be demand-driven and cautioned against the introduction of new conditionalities through the reform process. In response, the United Kingdom said the Panel's recommendations were an opportunity to match the vision in the Millennium Declaration with a first-rate UN delivery system, emphasizing that the “One UN” approach was no “backdoor for conditionality.” The European Union noted that while “delivering as one” would be a challenge for UN entities, recipients and donors, meeting that challenge was worthwhile. She also advocated that future discussions on institutional changes, in particular the creation of new bodies, be carefully considered in view of their added value. For the UN to better respond to global development challenges, France noted the need for a more strategic approach that focused on country needs. Rwanda said that the pilot country experiences would be valuable in understanding how to move the UN reform agenda forward, and welcomed the recommendation to establish a sustainable development board. With the halfway point to achieving the MDGs fast approaching, Japan underlined the need for the intergovernmental consultations on the recommendations to yield the best possible results. While noting that the “One UN” pilot programme was an interesting approach, the Russian Federation said it would not solve existing problems, and he also cautioned against establishing either a global leader's forum of the Economic and Social Council or a sustainable development board. India said there was a lack of clarity on precise operationalization of the Panel's recommendations, stressing that system-wide coherence would not have any effect if changes only were made on an administrative level. The General Assembly resumed its consideration of the Secretary-General's report on 17 April 2007 (statements made during this session). In concluding, General Assembly President Sheikha Haya said the formal consultation process would be transparent and inclusive, assuring that she would present her proposals on how to consider the recommendations of the Panel and the Secretary-General in a pragmatic and results-oriented manner.

Links to further information UN press release, 16 April 2007 The UN Secretary-General's statement
WORKSHOP ASSESSES AFRICA'S PROGRESS TOWARDS MDGS

A workshop taking stock of Africa's progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) gathered Senior African government planners, UN Development Programme (UNDP) policy advisers, and representatives of donor and multi-lateral agencies in Lome, Togo, from 11-13 April 2007. The workshop focused on pinpointing barriers and identifying what African countries can do to catch up with other regions to reach the MDGs. To date, 40 of the 45 countries covered by UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa have embarked on MDG-based planning, and about 20 of these countries, including Togo, have established credible MDG-based plans. The Lome workshop is the first of two workshops organized by UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa in 2007. Link to further information UNDP press release, 12 April 2007
FRIENDS OF UNEO MEET IN MOROCCO

The first meeting of the Group of Friends of the UN Environment Organization (UNEO) took place in Agadir, Morocco, from 12-13 April 2007. Participants noted the broad consensus that has emerged in favor of a general reform of the current system and discussed various ways wherein the process of setting up a UNEO could be taken forward, outlining its mandates and institutional aspects. The group was formed at the Paris Conference for Global Ecological Governance, held from 2-3 February 2007, and is according, to IISD sources, supported by 52 countries. The second meeting will be hosted by Costa Rica at the end of 2007. Links to further information Presidency overview report, 13 April, 2007 Friends of the UNEO - list of members
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL UNVEILS RESPONSE TO REFORM RECOMMENDATIONS

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report “Recommendations contained in the report of the High-level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence in the areas of development, humanitarian assistance and the environment” (A/61/836) was released on 9 April 2007, offering views and suggestions on the High-level Panel's recommendations. In his report, the Secretary-General stresses his support for a stronger, more coherent UN and for the recommendations contained in the report. He suggests that, although the main consideration of the report's recommendations will be elaborated by the General Assembly, other policymakers and actors should be brought into the discussion to “build a deeper understanding and ownership of the proposals.” The Secretary-General also notes that many of the recommendations are consistent with existing mandates and processes for reform, such as the 2007 triennial comprehensive policy review of the UN's operational activities for development, the “One UN” pilot programme, and the General Assembly informal consultative process on the institutional framework for the UN's environmental activities, while stressing that other areas will require fuller discussions and deliberation. Regarding the environment-related recommendations, Ki-moon notes these could be raised by the General Assembly's informal consultative process, while taking into account relevant discussions and decisions in other intergovernmental forums, including the Global Ministerial Environmental Forum of the UN Environment Programme Governing Council, the Council of the Global Environment Facility and the conferences of the parties to relevant multilateral environmental agreements. The Secretary-General states that he will “be giving due attention to the Panel's recommendation that I commission an independent and authoritative assessment of the current United Nations system of international environmental governance.” He also emphasizes that there should be clear delineations of responsibilities in the form of an internal “firewall” in the UN Development Programme, separating its role as manager of the Resident Coordinator system from its programmatic role. The Secretary-General has asked Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro to oversee and support the implementation of the system-wide coherence reform agenda. Links to further information The UN Secretary-General's report The UN Secretary-General's letter to the President of the Genera...
GLOBAL COMPACT HOLDS SECOND BOARD MEETING

The Global Compact Board, a panel of 20 leaders from business, civil society and labor chaired by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, held its second meeting at UN Headquarters, New York, US, on 4 April 2007. The Board meeting focused largely on the Global Compact Leaders Summit, to be held in Geneva, Switzerland on 5-6 July 2007. The issue of climate change will play a prominent role at the Leaders Summit, and a Global Compact working group has been formed in cooperation with the UN Environment Programme and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to present a comprehensive plan of action at the event. The Board members also agreed to make efforts to ensure that the forthcoming ISO 26000 guidance on social responsibility will be consistent with the Global Compact and its ten principles. Link to further information UN Global Compact press release, 4 April 2007
ECOSOC PREPARES FOR ANNUAL MINISTERIAL REVIEW

In preparation for its first Annual Ministerial Review, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) conducted an informal event on 2 April 2007 on the theme “Eradicating poverty and hunger – Joining forces to make it happen.” In her opening remarks to the New York, NY, session, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro highlighted the vital task of creating jobs in the effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Following a short plenary, the meeting split up into two parallel roundtables to consider “Are we making poverty history?” and “How are we doing in the fight against hunger and malnutrition?” Links to further information UN News Centre, 2 April 2007 ECOSOC website for informal event

March 2007

Oslo Conference on Good Governance Addresses Sustainability

March 2007: The 28-30 March 2007 “Oslo Conference on Good Governance, Social and Environmental Responsibility” brought together representatives from government, business, academia, trade-unions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to address the ongoing debate about business and sustainability beyond corporate social responsibility. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted the conference, in cooperation with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Norwegian Ministry of the Environment and the City of Oslo. In his closing remarks, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre emphasized the importance of creating a network of shared values. This meeting was an official intersessional event to the fifteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-15). Its key messages will be communicated to that session, which will take place at UN headquarters in New York, NY, from 30 April to 11 May 2007. [Conference website]
REGIONAL CONSULTATION TO ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING OF UN REFORM

A Regional High-Level Consultation on UN System-Wide Coherence, organized by the governments of Indonesia and Norway, was held from 29-30 March 2007 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Over 150 participants, including government officials, UN representatives, civil society and academia, gathered with the objectives to enhance the understanding of the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence among the Asia and Pacific countries, and to identify challenges and possible impacts of system-wide coherence implementation on regional and national levels. The outcome of the consultation is expected to feed into UN General Assembly discussions later in 2007. Links to further information UN press release, 28 March 2007 Terms of Reference - Regional High Level Consultation on UN ...
Shared Learning and Review Meeting Develops Recommendations for Republic of Korea

March 2007: A workshop for the Shared Learning and Review of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development of the Republic of Korea took place from 12-16 March 2007, in Seoul, Republic of Korea. The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which serves as the Secretariat for the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), helped organize the meeting, which provided government and non-government representatives from Asia-Pacific countries an opportunity to discuss and exchange experiences, lessons learned and best practices regarding National Strategies for Sustainable Development (NSSD), particularly the Republic of Korea's NSSD experience, and to develop recommendations for the Republic of Korea. [DSD website for meeting] [Republic of Korea's website for meeting]
UN DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TALKS ON UN REFORM

At a meeting with EU Development Ministers in Bonn, Germany, on 13 March 2007, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro outlined some of the Secretary-General's plans for proceeding on UN reform, including the implementation of proposals building on existing processes and initiatives, such as: the “One UN” pilot programmes; the ongoing consultative process on UN environmental activities; and strengthening the coordination functions of the UN Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). She also said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will submit a note to UN Member States in the coming weeks outlining his views on how to implement the recommendations contained in the System-Wide Coherence report. Link to further information UN News release, 13 March 2007

February 2007

NEXT STEPS ON UN ENVIRONMENTAL REFORM ARTICULATED

The Co-Chairs of the UN General Assembly consultations on the institutional framework for UN environmental activities, Berruga (Mexico) and Maurer (Switzerland), briefed UN Member States on 15 February 2007 at UN Headquarters, New York, US, discussing their attendance at the Global Ecological Governance Conference, held in Paris, France, from 2-3 February 2007, and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 4-9 February 2007. They also indicated that a report will be posted shortly on http://www.un.org/ga/president/61/follow-up/environmentalgov.... With respect to the next steps in the consultation process and the formulation of an options paper, the Co-Chairs asked delegations to address two key issues: why it has been so difficult, within the present institutional framework, to implement the reforms agreed to in Bali and Cartagena; and what a more effective environmental framework ought to look like. Delegations were requested to submit their comments by 30 March 2007. Three briefing sessions with leading authorities on the UN Environment Programme, Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and financing of environmental governance are scheduled to take place during the spring 2007.

Link to further information Center for UN Reform Education website, 15 February 2007
UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL ADDRESSES GLOBALIZATION AND UN REFORM, ESTABLISHES WORKING GROUP ON MERCURY

The 24th session of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-24/GMEF) convened from 5-9 February, in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together over 1000 participants from 141 countries. Discussions focused on emerging policy issues of globalization and the environment, and UN reform. GC-24/GMEF adopted 15 decisions on issues pertaining to, inter alia: the world environmental situation; international environmental governance; chemicals; South-South cooperation; waste management; UNEP's updated water policy and strategy; and support to Africa in environmental management and protection. One significant outcome was the establishment of an ad hoc open-ended working group to assess options for enhanced voluntary measures and new international legal instruments on mercury. At ministerial consultations on globalization and environment, it was suggested that UNEP contribute to the global trade dialogue through collaboration with the World Trade Organization. The consultations on UN reform stressed the need to reform the institutional framework for UN environmental activities, with many supporting the transformation of UNEP into a UN Environment Organization (UNEO) and others noting that the question of the appropriate institutional framework remains open.

Links to further information UNEP press release, 9 February 2007 IISD RS coverage
GCSF-8 ENGAGES IN DIALOGUE WITH UNEP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

The 8th Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF-8) gathered more than 160 participants from 65 countries in Nairobi, Kenya, from 3-4 February 2007, to discuss policy issues related to water and the environment, gender and the environment, chemicals management, and globalization, ecosystem services and human well-being. For the first time in GCSF history, participants engaged in an open dialogue with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, during which Achim Steiner said that civil society organizations have a significant opportunity to assist UNEP in articulating a response to climate change, degradation of natural resources, and unsustainable use of ecosystems. Participants also prepared input into the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum ministerial roundtables, to which civil society representatives have been granted access for the first time. Links to further information UNEP press release, 3 February 2007 IISD RS coverage
PRESIDENT CHIRAC CALLS FOR UNEO AT PARIS CONFERENCE

In a speech at the Global Ecological Governance Conference, which convened from 2-3 February 2007 in Paris, France, French President Jacques Chirac emphasized the need to create a global institution to better govern the environment, and called for the transformation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) into a full-fledged UN Environment Organization (UNEO), “to which all countries belong, along the lines of the World Health Organization.” The conference, hosted by the French government, brought together government ministers, scientists, private sector and NGO representatives, and public figures from over 60 countries with the aim of mobilizing international efforts to strengthen environmental governance. President Chirac also announced that the first meeting of a pioneer group of more than 40 nations pushing for a UNEO would take place in Morocco. Chirac's proposal to create a UNEO has met with opposition from the US and Russia, as well as from China, India and Brazil. NGOs are also divided on the issue, with some questioning whether another expensive international body will reconcile the world's environmental problems. In a video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined his intention to strengthen the UN's work in protecting the global environment, noting that UNEP has embarked on wide-ranging reforms and that other parts of the UN system also are mobilizing their efforts. Stressing the need for clear objectives and strong ecological governance at the global level, UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa maintained that UNGA is the ideal forum for concerted action by the international community. The conference proceedings were concluded by releasing the “Paris Call for Action” that, inter alia, called for the adoption of a Universal Declaration of Environmental Rights and Duties to enshrine a safe and protected environment as a fundamental human right. Links to further information Middle Eastern Times/AFP press release, 3 February 2007 Global Ecological Governance Conference website President Jacques Chirac's address Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's address UNGA President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa's address Paris Call for Action

January 2007

EU STRESSES UPGRADING UNEP AT UNGA ENVIRONMENT CONSULTATIONS

On 18 January 2007 at UN headquarters in New York, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resumed informal consultations on environmental governance. Among the delegations speaking, the EU stressed the importance of an effective institutional framework for the environment, advocating upgrading UNEP into a UN Environment Organization with a revised and strengthened mandate, and adequate resources, underlining that this would ensure stronger system-wide coherence in the area of the environment. Regarding partnerships, the EU said that the institutional framework for the UN's environmental activities would benefit from engaging civil society, private business and the science community, and suggested that the Commission on Sustainable Development's experience be used as a best practice. The G-77/China sought clarification on a number of issues, including the expected outcomes of the process, how it related to other reform processes including that on System-Wide Coherence, and the reason why the Co-Chairs have decided to focus on implementation at the country level rather than at the global level. The G-77/China also expressed concern about dealing with the issue of environment in isolation from the economic and social pillars of sustainable development. Two additional meetings are scheduled for 23 and 25 January 2007. Links to further information Statement by the EU Statement by the G-77/China