Mainstreaming the Environment Bulletin

 

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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

 

Vol. 112 No. 1
Sunday, 17 July 2005
 

HIGH-LEVEL BRAINSTORMING WORKSHOP FOR MEAS ON MAINSTREAMING ENVIRONMENT BEYOND MDG-7:

13-14 JULY 2005

The High-level Brainstorming Workshop for Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) on Mainstreaming Environment beyond MDG-7 took place from 13-14 July 2005, at the UN Office at Nairobi, Kenya. The workshop was attended by over 40 participants representing MEAs, UN agencies, other international organizations, and civil society.

Organized by the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Division of Environmental Conventions (DEC), the initiative “Mainstreaming Environment Beyond MDG7” focuses on the challenge of mainstreaming environment issues beyond MDG-7 from an MEA perspective and on providing inputs to the MDG process, possibly through the setting up of a plan of cooperation between UNEP, MEAs and the UN Millennium Project. The objective of the workshop was to discuss issues related to mainstreaming the environment within MDGs other than MDG-7.

Several follow-up steps were identified at the workshop, including: inviting the Secretary General to include language on the environment in his speech to the 2005 World Summit; convening a high-level panel, on the sidelines of the Summit, on the outcomes of the workshop; convening two follow-up meetings in 2005; and setting up a technical committee to work with UNDP and UNEP on identifying potential countries that need technical assistance and capacity building in preparing the environment components of MDG-based development strategies.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MILLENNIUM SUMMIT, OTHER UN CONFERENCES AND SUMMITS AND THEIR FOLLOW-UP

A key element of the United Nations strategy to address global economic, social and environmental challenges since the early 1990s has been the convening of UN conferences and summits. These events have resulted in the development of global plans of action to move the world towards a more sustainable future, and have addressed a broad development agenda encompassing poverty reduction, social development and environmental sustainability. The conferences of the 1990s addressed issues of children (1990), environment and development (1992), human rights (1993), small island developing States (1994), population and development (1994), disaster reduction (1994), social development (1995), women (1995), human settlements (1996) and food security (1996). These conferences and summits ushered in a period of heightened international commitment to poverty eradication and sustainable development.

MILLENNIUM SUMMIT: The UN Millennium Summit was held from 6-8 September 2000, in New York. At the Summit, world leaders agreed on a far-reaching plan to support global development objectives for the new century, and reaffirmed their commitment to work toward a world of peace and security for all, giving sustainable development and poverty eradication the highest priority. The Millennium Declaration, which was agreed at the Summit, outlined a clear set of responses to these challenges, and established concrete measures for judging performance through a set of interrelated commitments, goals and targets on development, governance, peace, security and human rights. The Declaration addressed issues relating to: fundamental values and principles; peace, security and disarmament; development and poverty eradication; the protection of the environment; human rights, democracy and good governance; the needs of the most vulnerable; the special needs of Africa; and the strengthening of the UN. The Declaration also made a strong commitment to eradicating poverty and securing sustainable development, and reaffirmed the UN as the accepted multilateral body for realizing the world’s aspirations for peace and development. The Millennium Declaration goals were elaborated and developed into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as contained in the September 2001 Secretary-General’s report on the Road Map towards the Implementation of the Millennium Development (A/56/326). The MDGs, which have become commonly accepted as a framework for measuring progress in development, comprise eight goals, 18 targets and 48 indicators. The eight goals are: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality by two thirds for children under five; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

Following the Millennium Summit, review conferences were held on the least developed countries (2001), children (2002), food (2002), sustainable development (2002), landlocked and transit developing countries (2003), population and development (2004), small island developing States (2005), disaster reduction (2005), social development (2005) and women (2005). New UN conferences were also held on racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (2001), HIV/AIDS (2001), financing for development (2002), and the information society (2003).

FIFTY-EIGHTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: At its fifty-eighth session, the General Assembly, in May 2004, adopted resolution 58/291 on the “Follow-up to the Millennium Summit,” in which it decided to convene in New York in 2005, at the commencement of its sixtieth session, a High-level Plenary Meeting of the Assembly with the participation of Heads of State and Government (2005 World Summit). The Assembly also decided that the High-level Plenary Meeting would undertake a comprehensive review of the progress made in the fulfillment of all the commitments contained in the Millennium Declaration, including the internationally-agreed development goals and the global partnership required for their achievement. The Assembly agreed that the High-level Plenary Meeting would review progress made in the implementation, at the national, regional and international levels, of the outcomes and commitments of the major UN Conferences and Summits in the economic, social and related fields, on the basis of a comprehensive report to be submitted by the Secretary-General.

FIFTY-NINTH SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY: In December 2004, the General Assembly, at its fifty-ninth session, adopted resolution 59/145 on the “Modalities, format and organization of the High-level Plenary Meeting of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly.” In this resolution, the General Assembly decided that the 2005 World Summit would take place on 14-16 September 2005. The Assembly also decided to hold a High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development from 27-28 June 2005 in New York, immediately prior to the ECOSOC 2005 High-level Segment, and to hold a separate meeting on Financing for Development within the framework of the 2005 World Summit. The Assembly requested the President of the General Assembly, in consultation with representatives of non-governmental organizations, to organize informal interactive hearings with civil society in June 2005 in New York as an input to the preparatory process of the 2005 World Summit.

Editor’s note: A comprehensive review of relevant UN conferences and summits and their follow-up is online at: http://www.iisd.ca/sd/ecosocprep1/sdvol104num2e.html

PREPARATORY MEETING FOR ECOSOC’S 2005 HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT: On 16-17 March 2005, a preparatory meeting for ECOSOC’s 2005 High-level Segment took place at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting focused on “achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, as well as implementing the outcomes of the major UN Conferences and Summits.” Roundtable discussions were held on eradication of poverty and hunger, education and literacy, health and mortality, global partnerships and financing development, gender equality and the empowerment of women, environmental sustainability, and implementation at the country level of the internationally-agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration. Participants also discussed how to advance recommendations on an MDG-based approach to poverty reduction. (For more information on this meeting, visit: http://www.iisd.ca/sd/ecosocprep1/).

THE HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT: This meeting took place from 27-28 June 2005, at UN Headquarters in New York. This was the second High-level Dialogue to have taken place since the International Conference on Financing for Development, which met in Monterrey, Mexico, in 2002. The theme for the two-day gathering was “The Monterrey Consensus: status of implementation and tasks ahead.” The two-day event was designed not only to support the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, but also to contribute to the 2005 World Summit.

THE HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT OF THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL: The High-level Segment took place from 29 June-1 July 2005 at UN Headquarters in New York, with the theme “Achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration,” as well as implementing the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits: progress made, challenges and opportunities.” Eight roundtable dialogues organized by various UN programmes and agencies convened to consider development goals related to poverty and hunger, health, partnerships and financing, human rights and institutions, national strategies, education and literacy, gender equality and environmental sustainability. The High-level Segment concluded without the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration, with ECOSOC’s President noting in the closing plenary that negotiators did not appear to be ready at this stage to formalize commitments ahead of the 2005 World Summit.

Other recent meetings of relevance to the MDG process and the 2005 World Summit include the Development Forum on integrating economic and social policies to achieve the UN development agenda, held in March 2005 (visit: http://www.iisd.ca/sd/undc/), and ECOSOC Special High-level Meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, World Trade Organization and UN Conference on Trade and Development, held in April 2005 (visit: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/).

Several relevant reports were also released in the first half of 2005. These include the UN Secretary-General’s Towards achieving internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration (visit http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=E/2005/56) and In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all (visit: http://www.un.org/largerfreedom/).

HIGH-LEVEL BRAINSTORMING WORKSHOP REPORT

The High-level Workshop for Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) on Mainstreaming Environment beyond MDG-7 was held from 13-14 July 2005. The Workshop began on Wednesday morning, 13 July, with opening remarks from Klaus Töpfer, UNEP Executive Director, and Bakary Kante, Acting Director, UNEP Division of Environmental Conventions (DEC). Participants then met throughout the day to hear keynote presentations and to brainstorm on how to integrate the environment into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). On Thursday, 14 July, participants continued their discussions, focusing on identifying medium and longer-term strategies for mainstreaming the environment into the MDGs and discussing the workshop’s outcome document.

The workshop completed its work by approving the Agreed Chairman’s Conclusions that outline the issues discussed, ways and means to mainstream the environment into the MDGs, and future process. This report summarizes the keynote presentations, brainstorming discussions and the workshop’s outcomes.

OPENING CEREMONY

On Wednesday, 13 July, Gary Sampson, Professarial Chair, Institute of Advanced Studies, United Nations University, chaired the workshop. Kante opened the workshop and welcomed participants. He said that the objectives of the workshop were to: exchange views on how to mainstream the environment into the MDGs; explore ways for cooperation among MEAs in order to make contributions to the implementation of MDGs; and build bridges between MDGs and MEAs to develop joint programmes and activities for implementation.

In his opening remarks UNEP Executive Director Töpfer said that development would be a key issue at the 2005 World Summit, highlighting that no development means no peace for the world. Stressing the importance of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), he underscored the need to improve the environment and link effective ecosystem services to the implementation of MDGs. He asked participants at the workshop to consider how MEAs could contribute to the implementation of the MDGs.

INTEGRATING THE ENVIRONMENT INTO THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS

Participants discussed this agenda item on Wednesday, 13 July, with keynote presentations and a brainstorming session.

KEYNOTE PRESENTATIONS: Guido Schmidt-Traub, Policy Advisor, UN Millennium Project, gave a presentation on MDGs and the 2005 World Summit. He highlighted that MDGs have become a shared implementation framework leading to country-driven strategies, and that the Millennium Project report called for the integration of the environment in MDG-based development strategies. Schmidt-Traub indicated that decisions to be taken at the 2005 World Summit will concern the kind of support that the international community will provide to countries for the development of their strategies and the “quick wins” to achieve MDGs. He identified as implementation challenges: systematic dissemination of environmental best practices at the country level, and direct investment in environmental management linking environmental strategies to national budgets. Schmidt-Traub underscored that the future work of the Millennium Project will be to support the participation of the UN agencies in the development and implementation of MDG-based strategies and the involvement of the private sector and civil society.

In the ensuing discussions, Peter Bridgewater, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, enquired about “quick wins” for the environment. Highlighting that “quick wins” are existing opportunities to make rapid progress on MDGs, Schmidt-Traub indicated the need to identify “quick wins” for the environment and suggested that reforestation and afforestation could be one of them. On a question on market failures, Schmidt-Traub said MDG-based development strategies often allow for a balance between policies and direct investment. Chair Sampson emphasized the information gap to be filled between MEAs and MDGs. Kante stressed that the key question for the workshop is how to bridge MDGs and MEAs as international legally binding instruments that can help implement development objectives.

David Runnalls, President, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), made a keynote presentation on mainstreaming environment into MDGs. Outlining the historical development of the concept of sustainable development, he said the vital question is what MEAs could do for MDGs. He said that the MA has highlighted that more efforts are needed to make human development processes more sustainable, and that it is important to publicize the link between the environment and development to the general public and policy makers. To mainstream environment into MDGs, he suggested: creation of partnerships on poverty reduction and the environment; development of good practices on linking the environment and MDGs; development of a matrix to measure progress in MDGs implementation; development of toolkits for integration of environment and poverty strategies; and further improvement of international environmental governance.

In the ensuing discussion, Schmidt-Traub said that, although MDGs are an attempt to set up outcome targets in different sectors, environment should not be seen as a sector due to its crosscutting nature. He noted that MDGs should be more specific and interrelated to each other and called for more of a focus on how MEAs assist in the implementation of the MDGs.

Regarding financing for environmental sustainability, he suggested that assessments should be undertaken with the support of quantitative studies, and concrete objectives should be set to facilitate financing.

In a presentation on integrating environment and development, Mohan Munasinghe, Chairman, Munasinghe Institute for Development, and Vice-Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cautioned against the misperception that MEAs and environmental global assessments are relevant only for MDG-7, emphasizing that environmental issues influence all MDGs and vice-versa. He suggested linking environment and development through the application of “sustainomics”, a framework for making development more sustainable, and the action impact matrix method that identifies and prioritizes links between environmental vulnerabilities and development goals.

In the following discussion, Franz Xaver Perrez, Head, Global Affairs Sections, Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape, suggested strengthening cooperation among MEAs in developing a list of clear, simple and measurable environmental goals similar to MDGs. Hamdallah Zedan, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), stressed that the link between environment and development is less understood at national levels than at the international one. He called for effective implementation of environmental strategies by development agencies at the national level to support the work of MEA secretariats and national environmental departments. Willem Wijnstekers, Secretary General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), noted that MDGs have been developed in isolation from international conventions, and proposed mainstreaming MDGs in global environmental policies, with UNEP taking the responsibility for coordinating MEAs’ contribution towards their achievement. Bridgewater said that synergies between MEAs and MDGs have to be developed at the national level, and noted the need to set up an environment framework to indicate what MEAs will be doing to achieve MDGs.

A.H. Zakri, Director, United Nations University-Institute of Advance Studies, presented the findings of the MA and their relevance to human well-being. Noting that changes in ecosystems have been more rapid in the last 50 years than in any time in human history, he remarked that ecosystem degradation impacts negatively on human well-being, and that the loss of wealth due to ecosystem degradation is not reflected in economic accounts. Zakri emphasized the degradation of ecosystem services as a significant barrier to the achievement of MDGs and the challenge of ensuring that the MA’s findings are considered in relevant processes, particularly at the national level.

BRAINSTORMING SESSION: With regard to promoting linkages between MEAs and MDGs, Gilbert Bankobeza, Senior Legal Officer, Ozone Secretariat, said that many MEAs have specific mandates set in their programmes of work that are related to MDGs. He noted, however, that to further participate in the implementation of MDGs, MEAs need a specific mandate from their Parties to directly link their work to MDGs. Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary, Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), said that, to contribute to the achievement of MDGs, MEAs should focus on their own programmes and try to build linkages with other institutions. He also recommended developing measurable targets for MEAs. Sachiko Kuwabara-Yamamoto, Executive Secretary, Basel Convention, said that Parties to the Basel Convention had been supportive in linking MDGs to their work programme, citing a partnership project on using mobile phones as a tool for poverty reduction. She stressed the need for resources such as financial commitments from governments to mainstream environmental goals into MDGs, and suggested developing projects based on MDGs for financing by development agencies. She said the 2005 World Summit should address the issue of coordination between environment and development.

Regarding coordination of MEAs at national level and mobilization of resources, Foday Bojang, Head of Environment and Natural Resources Division, African Union Commission, encouraged governments to integrate their national plans and policies into MEAs. He said more focus should be on resources mobilization to implement national action plans than on studies on linkages between MEAs and MDGs. He highlighted the importance of raising public awareness on both MEAs and MDGs. Geoffrey Howard, Regional Programme Director, IUCN, said that activities at the national level, according to national action plans, could help to enhance the link between the environment and MDGs, and encouraged UNEP to bring environment into every aspect of poverty reduction and other development strategies. Schmidt-Traub noted the need for a common approach to support the preparation of MDG-based strategies. Perrez underscored the importance of MEA coordination at the national level and of ensuring the commitment of development agencies. Laurent Ntahuga, Regional Technical Coordinator for Biodiversity and Species, IUCN, highlighted the importance of involving the donor community, and stressed that the 2005 World Summit is a critical moment for lobbying.

On mainstreaming the environment into MDGs and the 2005 World Summit draft outcome document (Draft Outcome Document), Mahendra Shah, Senior Scientist Land-Use Change, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, said that the greater challenge is to integrate the environment agenda beyond 2015 into the MDG process. He urged UNEP to make a statement calling for linking the environment to MDGs, possibly through poverty reduction.

Kante indicated that UNEP is currently working on projects in seven countries, with support from donor countries, which attempt to link environment and poverty reduction, noting that the UNEP Governing Council had decided to strengthen UNEP’s role in implementing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. Emil Salim, Chairman of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, advocated sending a message to world leaders that MEAs are a strategic component for the achievement of MDGs. Chair Sampson stressed the need to highlight MEAs expertise and success stories to raise the profile of the environment in achieving MDGs. Hugh Wilkins, Policy Advisor, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), reported on WWF’s proposed amendments to the Draft Outcome Document, including systematic references to sustainable development, text on the recognition and valuation of environmental services, and additional language on toxics, fisheries and forests. He noted the opposition of some countries to references to climate change in the document. Bridgewater proposed that UNEP table an explanatory document at the 2005 World Summit to emphasize the environment.

Runnalls proposed to insert the concept of human beings’ fundamental dependency on natural resources and the close link between the environment and poverty reduction in the Draft Outcome Document. To this end, he suggested adding a preambular paragraph to the Draft Outcome Document, stressing that action on the environment is a precondition for development. Anantha Duraiappah, Senior Economist, IISD, supported the proposal of making a strong statement to the 2005 World Summit on linkages between MEAs and MDGs, while highlighting the importance of ecosystem services. Chair Sampson noted the need to consider post-2005 World Summit measures and to identify gaps in MDGs to be filled by MEAs. He stressed that an effective ecosystem is the key for achieving MDGs. Noting the difficulty in changing the Draft Outcome Document to outline the role of MEAs in achieving MDGs, Wijnstekers suggested more focus on achieving MDGs in MEAs’ work programmes.

IDENTIFYING A MID-TERM STRATEGY FOR MAINSTREAMING THE ENVIRONMENT INTO MDGS

On Thursday, 14 July, Zakri chaired the discussion on this agenda item, and said that the challenge is to build a strong bridge between MEAs and MDGs, noting two options for partnership: a partnership between MEAs and the Millennium Project, and a partnership between the Millennium Project and UNEP.

Regarding the 2005 World Summit and its preparatory process, Shah said there is a need to call the attention of the UN and governments to the efforts needed for the environment beyond 2015. He suggested assigning a small group of people the responsibility to draft a strong message or statement for submission to the 2005 World Summit calling for mainstreaming the environment into MDGs.

With regard to the role of UNEP in promoting cooperation between MEAs and MDGs, Kante said that some MEAs do have the mandate to implement MDGs at the national level, and, with the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UNEP and UNDP and the Bali Strategic Plan for Technical Support and Capacity Building, UNEP is ready to support such activities. He stated that adaptation to climate change could be an avenue with which to start. He stressed that any relationship between the Millennium Project and MEAs should also be open to other organizations.

Wijnstekers said that, while MEA mandates are flexible to be extended to other activities, human and financial resources are often a problem. He called for institutional capacity building for better coordination among MEAs at the national level, noting that UNEP should take the initiative to provide a basis for such coordination. He said that such a cooperative process should take into consideration MEA strategic plans, and UNEP should guide Parties to MEAs to include global issues in their mandates.

Bridgewater said that, while each MEA will make individual efforts to contribute to the achievement of MDGs, there is a need for a mechanism to promote cooperation between MEAs, and that UNEP DEC should play a key role in this regard. He noted that decisions taken by MEAs often have linkages with MDGs, and UNEP should act as a facilitator in promoting such linkages.

On future activities, Philip Dobie, Director, UNDP Drylands Development Centre, stressed the need to inform people, especially policy makers, where and how environment is affecting poverty and how to solve these problems. Yamamoto said that, to undertake more groundwork, there is a need for constant dialogue between MEAs and development agencies. She noted that, to form a technical committee for considering mainstreaming the environment into MDGs, more MEAs should be included. Karl Karugaba, Field Officer, Lusaka Agreement Task Force, reported on groundwork that his MEA undertakes in investigating illegal wildlife trade cases, gathering information, and assisting country capacity building and awareness raising. He stressed the need to identify existing constraints in implementing MDGs and to adopt policies to address these constraints. Howard suggested adaptation for climate change and protected areas for biodiversity as the two areas in which to start cooperation between the Millennium Project and MEAs. He also stressed the importance of resources to support such cooperation.

On the relationships between MEAs and MDGs, Kante said cooperation between the Millennium Project and MEAs should be based on the work programmes and mandates of MEAs. Noting that both MEAs and MDGs are implemented at the national level, Zedan recommended a dialogue between MEAs’ national focal points and UNDP and its country offices to see how MEAs can contribute to the implementation of MDGs. He said that, as a follow up to such dialogue, MEA secretariats should encourage discussions by their conferences of parties on their contribution to the implementation of MDGs. Schmidt-Traub stressed the need for systematically scaling up support to countries’ MDG-based strategies, and suggested a coordinated approach by UNEP and UNDP to involve MEAs in responding to country-driven requests for assistance.

Hepworth noted that parties to MEAs seem generally supportive of including MDGs in the conventions’ strategic plans. Bankobeza stressed that, after the establishment of a clear process of coordination between MEAs and UNEP, each MEA will need to seek guidance from its governing body.

Noting that MDGs are shifting international development assistance from project and programme support to budgetary support for country-set priorities, Dobie drew attention to the UNEP/UNDP poverty and environment initiative as a practical tool to mainstream the environment into development strategies. He also said that, in the framework of the MOU between UNEP and UNDP, an initiative would be started in September 2005 to deliver tools to UN country teams for mainstreaming the environment into country strategies, and proposed the involvement of MEAs in this endeavor. Bankobeza expressed concern that various environment issues are not mentioned in the current Draft Outcome Document.

IDENTIFYING LONGER-TERM STRATEGY FOR MAINSTREAMING THE ENVIRONMENT INTO MDGs

In the afternoon on Thursday, 14 July, Salim chaired the discussion on this agenda item, emphasizing the link between MDGs and MEAs through ecosystems. He asked participants to focus on activities at the national level, with coordination between UN bodies and development agencies.

With regard to integrating the environment into development policies, Zedan stressed the need for hard evidence and data to convince policy makers that environment must be integrated into national development plans and strategies. Salim said that, at the national level, the environment must be mainstreamed into government policies, and, in the long run, the environment should be considered as a part of the broader human development process. He also called for new ways in which the environment can become part of the international effort to change the development paradigm, with Dobie acknowledging a systemic failure in integrating the environment into the development progress both by multilateral and bilateral development agencies.

On future activities, Schmidt-Traub suggested that UNEP and UNDP identify a small number of countries in which progress on environmental goals can be achieved. Kante suggested publicizing best practices of MEAs. Runnalls suggested that the UNEP Executive Director engage celebrities in showing the importance of ecosystem services for combating poverty.

Regarding the 2005 World Summit and its preparatory process, Hepworth proposed developing a joint MEAs paper to be presented to the 2005 World Summit, outlining the existing and potential contribution of MEAs to MDG implementation. Salim cautioned against proposing amendments to the Draft Outcome Document, suggesting that in his speech to world leaders at the 2005 World Summit, the UN Secretary-General make the point that ecosystems are indispensable for achieving MDGs. Runnalls also noted that UNEP and MEAs could take some anticipatory steps to show that MEAs can coordinate their work without additional structures, in order to shape the debate on international environmental governance at the 2005 World Summit. Hepworth proposed calling attention to the MA at the 2005 World Summit.

Regarding the MA, Runnalls suggested UNEP institutionalize the MA and have it report regularly. Bridgewater proposed that UNEP liaise with MEAs to bring the MA process forward, and suggested creating a common platform for better communication, education and awareness raising.

AGREED CHAIRMAN’S CONCLUSIONS

On Thursday afternoon, Chair Sampson presented the draft Agreed Chairman’s Conclusions as an outcome of the workshop, and invited general comments on the text, noting that the conclusions are designed for the UNEP Executive Director to bring the message to the 2005 World Summit.  

Zedan said that mainstreaming the environment beyond 2015 should be highlighted, and proposed a reference to development agencies. Shah supported the inclusion of a message from the workshop into the Secretary-General’s speech at the 2005 World Summit, but cautioned against references to ecosystem services since they might exclude services produced by other environmental resources.

Runnalls said that the text should be focused on what needs to be done for mainstreaming the environment into MDGs. Wijnstekers urged clearly allocating tasks among UNEP, MEAs and other agencies, and recommended UNEP as the coordinator of this process. He also said that UNEP should attempt to align MEA strategic plans in the context of MDGs, and to increase MEA institutional capacities for the achievement of MDGs. Bridgewater proposed an emphasis on the contribution of MEAs to adaptation to climate change, and the use of plain and easily understandable language. Hepworth recommended keeping the focus on MEAs rather than the environment at large, and highlighting the findings of the MA in relation to ecosystem services and MDGs.

Bridgewater said that the text should reflect what had been said by participants as to how MEAs can contribute to MDGs. Schmidt-Traub expressed concern over time constraints for undertaking all the activities proposed in the text. Bankobeza said the text is not clear as to what MEAs are set to do in the future.

In response to these comments, Kante supported the idea of focusing on two or three concrete activities in the near future. He noted that the term “ecosystem services” has widely been accepted. Regarding the brainstorming process, he said that this workshop is to set the tone for future cooperation between MEAs and MDGs, and that there would be follow-up activities after the 2005 World Summit. He reiterated that the conclusions are designed for the UNEP Executive Director to bring the message to the 2005 World Summit, while the discussions will be reflected in the workshop’s report. He also pointed out that the conclusions would not be presented on behalf of MEAs.

After an informal consultation, the Secretariat presented a revised text based on the foregoing comments and suggestions. Participants expressed satisfaction with the restructured organization of the text, which includes the issues, how to integrate the environment into MDGs, and the future progress.

Schmidt-Traub, supported by many others, called for more focus on country-level activities, noting that best practices are useful in setting objectives and achieving them. Yamamoto suggested setting a link on the UNEP’s website for best practices, and called upon MEAs to contribute to it. Howard opposed a reference to the MA, while Kante said it is useful for MEAs to set up priorities. Perrez cautioned against duplicating assessment activities.

Wilkins suggested the message of this workshop should also be sent to General Assembly President. He also recommended that references should be made to creating alliances and partnerships with NGOs as a medium-term activity. Runnalls said that the technical committee should be given specific mandates in identifying countries to carry out activities toward achieving MDGs. In response to a proposal to delete references to ecosystem services, Duraiappah proposed language clarifying that ecosystem services are “the benefits ecosystems provide to people”.

Kante suggested, and participants agreed, that Chair Sampson finalize the text based on the comments received and circulate it to participants by email after the workshop.

Agreed Chairman’s Conclusions: The document comprises three sections: issues on mainstreaming environment beyond MDG-7; how to put environmental sustainability at the heart of MDGs; and the future process.

On issues, participants state that ecosystem services are a precondition for the achievement of the MDGs and that the success stories of MEAs as legally binding instruments can contribute to implementing MDGs. Participants also draw attention to the need to look beyond the 2005 World Summit and toward the next phase of the MDG process.

On putting environmental sustainability at the heart of MDGs, participants affirm that both regional and global MEAs have the on-the-ground expertise to contribute positively to achieving MDGs and should collectively discuss such contributions, particularly at the country level. Critical activities that are listed include integrating environmental concerns in the follow-up to the 2005 World Summit, mainstreaming environment in MDG-based development strategies, identifying“quick win” initiatives for the environment, and aligning MEA strategic plans and increasing their capacities in the context of implementing the MDGs.

On the future process, participants agree that UNEP should play a coordinating role with regard to short-, medium-, and long-term activities aiming at mainstreaming the environment in the MDG process.

Short-term activities include:

  • Bring to the attention of the UN Secretary General the outcome of the workshop with a view to inviting him to include related language in his speech at the 2005 World Summit;

  • Convene a high-level panel, on the sidelines of the Summit, on the outcomes of the workshop;

  • Convene two follow-up meetings in 2005 on the economic aspects of ecosystem services, and on moving the process forward following the 2005 World Summit, respectively; and

  • Convene a technical committee to work with UNDP and UNEP to identify potential countries that need technical assistance and capacity building in preparing the environment component of MDG-based development strategies.

Mid-term activities include:

  • Establish a plan of work with the UNDP/Millennium Project for the next 12 to 18 months for, inter alia: the identification of areas of common concern; the creation of practical means to promote cooperation between MEAs and MDGs, and partnerships building with key players, including civil society organizations;

  • Consider how to build upon the MA, to promote integrated sub-global and national ecosystem assessments, as well as best practices based on the MA methodology and policy responses;

  • Request the UNEP Executive Director to identify how to continue conducting periodic assessments focused on ecosystem services and human well-being, based on the MA model;

  • Establish a UNEP web site for MEAs to share their experiences and best practices in contributing to MDGs implementation; and

  • Provide a catalogue of best practices for the preparation of environmental strategies as part of MDG-based development strategies.  

Long-term activities include:

  • Mobilize high-level support and engage MEA Secretariats and Parties for raising awareness on and supporting the mainstreaming of the environment into the MDGs; and

  • Facilitate cooperation between MEAs, UNEP and UNDP to support national efforts to develop MDG-based development strategies.

CLOSING OF THE HIGH-LEVEL BRAINSTORMING WORKSHOP

In his closing remarks, Kante thanked all participants for their attendance on short notice, which, he said, demonstrated a strong willingness to meet the objectives of the workshop. He said that this process has helped to better identify the links between the MEAs, MDGs and the Millennium Project. He also said that UNEP would be supporting MEAs in providing technical support to governments for achieving MDGs.

Chair Sampson closed the workshop at 6:30pm. 

UPCOMING MEETINGS

2005 ECOSOC SUBSTANTIVE SESSION: The substantive Session of the UN Economic and Social Commission (ECOSOC) is following its High-level Segment (29 June to 1 July). The substantive session will include: a Coordination Segment (5-7 July); an Operational Activities Segment (8-12 July); a Humanitarian Affairs Segment (13-18 July); a General Segment (18-25 July); and a concluding segment (26-27 July). For more information, contact: Sarbuland Khan, ECOSOC; tel: +1-212-963-4628; fax: +1-212-963-1712; e-mail: khan2@un.org; Internet: http://www.un.org/docs/ecosoc/meetings/2005/index.html

MINISTERIAL REGIONAL MEETING ON MDGS IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC - THE WAY FORWARD 2015: The meeting will convene on 3-5 August in Jakarta, Indonesia, to prepare regional inputs for the 2005 World Summit, and to exchange views on challenges, opportunities, good practices and lessons learned in achieving the MDGs in the region. For more information, contact: Ngurah Swajaya; e-mail: Nswajaya@aol.com

58TH ANNUAL DPI/NGO CONFERENCE: Scheduled for 7-9 September 2005, in New York, this conference will focus on the review of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, the MDGs and UN reform. For more information, contact: DPI NGO Section; tel: +1-212-963-6842; fax: +1-212-963-6914; e-mail: dpingo@un.org; Internet: http://www.un.org/dpi/ngosection/

HELSINKI CONFERENCE 2005 – MOBILIZING POLITICAL WILL: Convening from 7-9 September 2005, in Helsinki, Finland, this conference represents the culmination of the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy. For more information, contact: Helsinki Conference Secretariat; tel: +358-9-698-7024; fax: +358-9-612-7759; e-mail: secretariat@helsinkiprocess.fi; Internet: http://www.helsinkiconference.fi

HIGH-LEVEL PLENARY MEETING OF THE 60TH SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON THE FOLLOW-UP TO THE OUTCOME OF THE MILLENNIUM SUMMIT: Also referred to as the “2005 World Summit,” this meeting will take place from 14-16 September 2005, at UN headquarters in New York. The meeting is expected to undertake a comprehensive review of the progress made toward the commitments articulated in the UN Millennium Declaration. The event will also review progress made in the implementation of the outcomes and commitments of the major UN conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields. For more information, contact: Office of the President of the General Assembly; tel: +1-212-963-2486; fax: +1-212-963-3301; email: djibril.diallo@undp.org; Internet: http://www.un.org/ga/59/hl60_plenarymeeting.html
 

The Mainstreaming the Environment Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) , publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © . This issue was written and edited by Changbo Bai and Elisa Morgera. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by UNEP. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958- 7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (ASCII and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at . For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 212 East 47th St. #21F, New York, NY 10017, USA.