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3 February  

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SUMMARY

Twenty Second Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum 
3-7 February 2003
Nairobi, Kenya 

Highlights from Monday, 3 February

The 22nd session of the UNEP Governing Council and fourth Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) opened on Monday morning, 3 February, at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Following the opening speeches, election of officers and adoption of the agenda, delegates reconvened in Plenary in the afternoon to consider the state of the environment and emerging policy issues. A Committee of the Whole also met in the afternoon to take up agenda items on the role of civil society, international environmental governance (IEG), UNEP's programme, and administrative and budgetary matters.

UNEP Deputy Executive Director Shafqat Kakakhel, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer, incoming Governing Council President Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Water, Lands and Environment of Uganda and outgoing Governing Council President David Anderson
        


Opening Plenary

UNEP Deputy Executive Director Shafqat Kakakhel delivered a message from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. The message highlighted the significance of this Governing Council session, which is taking place five months after the WSSD. He stressed UNEP's critical role in developing a programme that contributes to implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer said the Governing Council has an opportunity to strengthen the achievement of sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. He stressed that the Governing Council should aim to implement the WSSD's Plan of Implementation by advising UNEP on implementing the 10-year programme for sustainable consumption and production, improving capacity building, monitoring and assessing global environmental change, promoting the use of new technologies, and ensuring that trade and environment policies are consistent and mutually supportive.

David Anderson, Canada's Environment Minister and the Governing Council's outgoing President, outlined achievements during his tenure, including the completion of the first global mercury assessment, the Great Apes Survival Project, the adoption of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the release of the third Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-3) report in 2002. He also reported on efforts to improve international governance, and took note of increased financial support for UNEP from a number of governments.

Arthur Chaskalson, Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, reported on the recent Ad Hoc Meeting of Judges for the Development of a Plan of Work, organized as a follow-up to the Global Judges Symposium held prior to the WSSD. Observing that environmental management involves a chain of actors including the judiciary, he said the manner in which judges discharge their responsibilities influences attitudes and the enforcement of laws. He outlined the results of recent meetings aimed at increasing judicial capacity building, and reviewed plans to facilitate the further exchange of views and guidance through UNEP.
Part 1 of speech
Part 2 of speech

 
Newton Kulundu, Kenya's Minister of the Environment, highlighted domestic policy initiatives of the new government and voiced support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). He commended UNEP's focus on poverty eradication and its cooperation with the UNDP Drylands Development Center and with the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). He supported the establishment of a trust fund for the management of environment emergencies and urged the timely payment of pledges to the Environmental Fund based on the voluntary indicative scale.
Klaus Töpfer speaks with the delegate from Senegal (left) and Kenyan Environment Minister Newton Kulundu is greeted by delegates (right)
Watching an audio-visual presentation, which stressed that, in spite of the many challenges, action to protect our environment can be successful
Kenyan Environment Minister Newton Kulundu shakes the hand of outgoing GC President David Anderson (left) and David Anderson greets new GC President Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Water, Lands and Environment of Uganda (right)
 
Governing Council President Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Water, Lands and Environment of Uganda
Morocco, on behalf of the G-77/China, underscored UNEP's role in implementing the environmental aspects of WSSD outcomes, and said civil society's participation in UNEP should be encouraged. He called on donor countries to reverse the decline in ODA and meet their commitments on capacity building and technology transfer. He supported strengthening UNEP's work promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns, and drew attention to UNEP's report on the environmental situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Greece, on behalf of the EU, said UNEP has an important role in implementing the environmental dimensions of sustainable development and underlined the link between poverty and the environment. He highlighted urgent issues to be addressed by the Governing Council, including: sustainable consumption and production; global mercury assessment; a strategic approach to the management of chemicals; IEG, with increased participation of civil society; biodiversity loss; marine transport of hazardous substances; and the regional implementation of WSSD outcomes.
Vice-President Václav Hubinger (Czech Republic) is elected Rapporteur for the meeting (left) and with Ambassador Finn Thilsted, Danish Embassy

Afternoon Plenary: Policy Issues
State of the Environment and Emerging Policy Issues: Executive Director Töpfer highlighted UNEP's environmental assessment and early warning activities, which he described as the "cornerstone of all our work."
Delegates were briefed on the state of the environment by a UNEP representative, who highlighted problems in many areas, including water policy, food security, land degradation, biodiversity, climate change, and the marine environment.
On the Environmental Initiative of NEPAD, Grace Akumu, Climate Network Africa, speaking on behalf of African Civil Society, argued that the principles of the Framework are not sufficiently specific, and highlighted inadequate participation of civil society in the process.
Victor Hugo, Center for Human Rights and Environment, Cordoba, Argentina, speaking on behalf of the Global Civil Society Forum, expressed concern that UNEP is "lagging behind" in its relationships with civil society. He welcomed UNEP's strategic paper on civil society involvement, endorsed the prompt creation of a civil society advisory panel to UNEP's Executive Director, and proposed a UNEP initiative on cultural and biological diversity in partnership with other institutions.
R.K. Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), outlined the results of the IPCC's Third Assessment Report and the predicted effects of climate change on agriculture, health, water resources, coastal areas, biodiversity, fisheries, food production, and hydropower generation. He highlighted the environmental and economic
benefits of regional assessments, mitigation strategies, and climate change policy making.
Pakistan emphasized its strong commitment to addressing domestic environmental problems, but argued that efforts are offset by a lack of resources and low technical capacity.
Ethiopia highlighted the need for effective biosafety frameworks and for defining access and benefit sharing from genetic resources, and argued that a voluntary system was inadequate.

Committee of the Whole
COW Chair and GC Vice-President Tanya Van Gool (Netherlands) and UNEP Deputy Executive Director Shafqat Kakakhel (above) introduced the organization of work, outlining issues relating to: the UNEP Programme, Environment Fund, and administrative and other budgetary matters; follow-up of UNGA resolutions; and UNEP's contribution to future sessions of the CSD. Noting the limited time allocated for budgetary discussions, several delegates requested that a contact group be formed.
CPR Chair Juergen Weerth (Germany) presented the draft decisions prepared by the CPR pursuant to the mandate established by the Governing Council (UNEP/GC.22/L/1). He noted that the document covered 30 subject areas, and that the CPR had reached agreement on 21 of these. He said divergent views remained on amending Rule 69 of the Council's Rules of Procedure on civil society participation.
Syria said that the report on the
environmental situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories went beyond the mandate of the UNEP desk study team, and requested redrafting the document and deleting specific paragraphs which refer to Israel's role vis-à-vis regional environmental cooperation, particularly regarding desertification (UNEP/GC.22/2/Add.6). Kakakhel replied that the Council President Rugunda will hold consultations to address the issue.

Press Conference on the Global Mercury Assessment

Jim Willis, UNEP Chemicals, Klaus Töpfer, Governing Council President, outgoing Governing Council President David Anderson, discuss the new report released by UNEP, which states, among other things, that mercury poisoning of the planet could be significantly reduced by curbing pollution by power stations

Panel Discussion on Rio Principle 10: Public Access to Information, Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters
A panel discussion on Principle 10: Public Access to Information, Participation in Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters was held Monday from 1:15 to 3:00. Co-convened by Environment Liaison Centre International and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the panel included three civil society representatives (Victor Ricco from Argentina, Godber Tumushabe from Uganda, and Victoria Elias from Russia), the Aarhus Secretariat (Jeremy Wates), UNEP (Bakary Kante), and Arte Fretheim of the the Government of Norway. Panelists described the enduring aspects of Principle 10, ten years after its elaboration, and measures to implement it in different regions. In addition, two speakers (Hossein Fadai and Davinder Lambda) addressed the linkages between human rights and environmental rights, and the potentially powerful role of environmental rights in sustainable development. Mr. Stein of Australia described the positive outcome of increased access to justice in environmental matters for New South Wales. Representatives of two economic commissions (ESCAP and ECLAC) also reported on implementation of Principle 10 in their regions. General support for the draft decision on global guidelines to Principle 10 was widely expressed, as a means of providing stimulus to national initiatives.

Miscellaneous Photos
The launch of and switching on of light boxes containing a new biodiversity display - UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center
Entertainment at an evening reception for delegates
Members of the Global Youth Forum

Links

ENB Summary of UNEP-21 in PDF (English), txt and html
ENB Coverage of the Third Global Ministerial Environment Forum (Seventh Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council)
ENB Coverage of the World Summit on Sustainable Development
UNEP website,with information about the Governing Council
UNEP website on International Environmental Governance

UNEP-22 Homepage with the Provisional Agenda and Working Documents for the meeting, as well as information documents
UNEP.Net, the United Nations Environment Network: a global portal to authoritative environmental information based on themes and regions.


 

 

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