24th Session of the UNEP Governing Council /
Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-24/GMEF)

4-9 February, 2007 | Nairobi, Kenya

 

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Highlights from Monday, 5 February 2007

Delegates at the 24th session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-24/GMEF) convened in the morning for the opening ceremony, followed by consideration of organizational matters and a panel discussion on globalization and the environment in a reformed UN. In the afternoon, delegates convened in ministerial consultations to hear UNEP Executive Director's policy statement and participate in six ministerial roundtables on globalization and the environment. The Committee of the Whole (COW) also met in the afternoon to consider budget and programme of work for the biennium 2008-2009. (above photo: Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, during a press conference)

 
 
Highlights from Monday, 4 February 2007
 
Morning Plenary
 
 
 

Rachmat Witoelar, Indonesia's State Minister for the Environment and outgoing GC/GMEF President (left), welcomed Achim Steiner as UNEP's fifth Executive Director. He stressed the need to maintain the new strategic focus of UNEP in the context of UN reform following the 2005 World Summit. Highlighting GC-24/GMEF's main theme, he encouraged delegates to consider ways in which globalization can contribute to environmental protection.

Anna Tibaijuka, UN-HABITAT Executive Director (center), noted that globalization has led to accelerated urbanization. She stressed that the respective mandates of UNEP and UN-HABITAT are now more relevant and complementary than ever, and pledged UN-HABITAT's support to implementation of UN system-wide reform.

Moody Awori, Vice-President of Kenya (right) , noted the timeliness of discussions on globalization and environment, as well as UN reform. He highlighted Africa 's environmental challenges against the backdrop of globalization. He called for a strengthened, more focused and result-oriented UNEP, and for empowering UNEP Executive Director to implement GC/GMEF decisions.

   
Tree Theatre Group from Malaysia and Singing Group from Kenya during the Opening Session
 
 
 
 
Election of Officers and Organization of Work

 

 

GC-24/GMEF President Roberto Dobles, Costa Rica (left), said a strong UNEP requires an adequate mandate and sustainable and predictable funding, to enable it to provide leadership and promote cooperation in the field of the environment, as well as to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). GC-24 President Dobles is greeted by outgoing GC President Rachmat Witoelar (right)

 
 
 
Stephan Contius, Germany, speaking on behalf of the EU, supported the Paris Conference for Global Ecological Governance initiative to transform UNEP into a UNEO. He underscored legally-binding, rather than voluntary, measures in support of worldwide sound chemicals management, and called for synergies among the MEAs.
 
Panel discussion on globalization and the environment in a reformed UN
 
 
 

Kemal Dervis, Administrator, UN Development Programme (UNDP) (left), noted increased partnership with UNEP. He suggested taking a fresh look at measuring human development, by introducing depletion of natural resources and other essential components. Citing the example of climate change, he highlighted the issue of uneven distribution of impacts of human activities, with the most vulnerable countries most affected.

Kandeh Yumkella, Director-General, UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) (center), spoke of the challenge of implementing policies at the factory level, particularly in developing countries. He reaffirmed UNIDO's cooperation with UNEP in the SAICM process, and referred to the importance of biofuels and focusing the energy sector on the needs of the poor.

Pascal Lamy, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO) (right), pointed to the latest scientific evidence of the global scale of climate change, and said that sustainable development lies at the heart of the WTO. He urged continued support of the environmental community in bringing the WTO Doha Round of negotiations to a successful conclusion. Lamy emphasized the potential of the negotiations to enable a more efficient global allocation of resources as well as, inter alia, to reduce: obstacles to trade; barriers to trade in clean technologies and services; and damaging agricultural subsidies that lead to over production.

 
 

Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), described global growth in tourism, noting it is both a vector and a victim of climate change. He said tourism can result in both increased pressure on biodiversity and communities, and poverty alleviation.

 

Policy Statement by the Executive Director: UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner noted how environmental issues, notably climate change, have increasingly become a question of economics, security and energy . Steiner urged ministers to help overcome the current impasse in environmental negotiations and assume their collective environmental responsibility, stressing that UNEP is a product of the collective will of its member states. Noting strategic challenges at the programmatic and managerial levels, Steiner highlighted the establishment of UNEP task teams to address: programmatic cohesion and coordination; management reform; human resources; implementation of UNEP's Gender Plan of Action; and improvement of UNEP's communication and internal infrastructure. He stressed the need to improve cooperation with other environmental organizations and UN institutions and build on the momentum of UN reform. He urged ministers to use the GC platform to provide guidance on the environmental governance system needed by countries to achieve the necessary cohesion and synergies.

 
Panel Discussion on Globalization and the Environment
 
 

Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's Minister for the Environment (left center), urged delegates to agree on a process to bring about specific measurable outcomes on globalization and the environment by GC-25/GMEF. While lamenting WTO's poor track record, she supported Lamy's assertion that the Doha Round of negotiations is an opportunity to dismantle restrictions on trade and ensure joint consideration of environmental and trade issues. Highlighting ecosystem services, she announced Denmark's willingness to contribute financially to joint UNEP and WTO efforts in this regard.

Noting rapid economic development in China in the past 20 years, Jian Zhou, China's Vice-Minister of the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA) (right), emphasized China's commitment to environmental protection while maintaining economic growth. He underscored, inter alia: optimizing economic globalization through a shared international sustainable development process; strengthening global cooperation and coordination; and establishing environment-friendly production and consumption patterns.

 
Committee of the Whole
 
 
COW Chair Jan Dušik, Czech Republic (center), welcomed delegates and invited nominations for the position of Rapporteur. Several delegations opposed evening sessions, calling for activities to be concluded in a timely manner, after which the schedule of work (UNEP/GC/24/CW/CRP.1) was agreed.
 
 
Igor Liška, Chair, Committee of Permanent Representatives, Slovakia, presented draft decisions prepared by the CPR (UNEP/GC/24/L.1) emanating from reports prepared by UNEP Executive Director and member states. Presentations were also made by co-sponsors of draft decisions (UNEP/GC/24/L.2).
Special Event: High Level Roundtable on Globalization and Environment: Ensuring Coherence between the Trade and Environment Regimes
 
 
Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, Mukhisa Kituyi, Minister of Trade and Industry, Kenya, Giancarlo Piatti, Minister of Environment, Italy, Pascal Lamy, Director-General, WTO, and Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
 
 
Press Conference: Launch of the GEO Yearbook 2007
 
 
Connie Hedegaard, Environment Minister, Denmark, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, Roberto Dobles, GC President, and Norberto Fernandez, UNEP
 
Norberto Fernandez, UNEP, presented the GEO Yearbook (left) and Roberto Dobles, GC President (right)
   
 

Press Conference: Melting Ice - A Hot Topic?

With new scientific evidence revealing the growing threat of climate change to the polar regions, this event launched UNEP's strategy for the International Polar Year and provided a briefing on the new GEO for Ice and Snow that will be released on World Environment Day in Norway. This event also included a live satellite link to the crew of Tara, the polar boat currently locked and drifting in the Arctic ice as part of a unique two-year research project to study the impacts of global warming.

 
 
Pal Pestrud , Director, Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, Helen Bjornoy, Environment Minister, Norway, Etienne Bourgois, Peter Prokosh, WWF
 
Miscellaneous Photos
 
 
 
 
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy with UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner (right)
 
 

RELEVANT LINKS

 Pre-session events and parallel events

Recent ENB coverage of relevant meetings:

ENB coverage of UNEP's Intergovernmental Strategic Plan for Technology Support and Capacity Building:

  • ISP-3 Bali, Indonesia, 2-4 December, 2004
  • ISP-2 Nairobi, Kenya, 2-4 September, 2004
  • ISP-1 New York, US 25 June, 2004

Other relevant meetings:

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