Published by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 16 No.
Thursday, February 8, 2001
UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS
WEDNESDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2001
Delegates met in parallel
sessions of the Plenary and the Committee of the Whole (COW). The
Plenary addressed governance and the chemicals agenda. The COW
considered UNEP’s subprogrammes and related draft decisions,
forwarding numerous decisions to the drafting group, which met
throughout the day. A working group on budget matters also
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT ON
EARLY WARNING, POLICY DEVELOPMENT, AND IMPLEMENTATION: The
COW resumed consideration of draft decisions related to UNEP’s
subprogrammes on environmental assessment and early warning,
policy development and law, and policy implementation. On the
draft decision on environmental emergency prevention,
preparedness, assessment, response and mitigation, SWITZERLAND
proposed identifying gaps in civil liability regimes and
supporting existing efforts on assessing non-economic liability
compensation regimes under the Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD). CANADA expressed concern regarding quantification of
non-economic costs. CHINA proposed an environmental emergencies
fund for developing countries. The draft decision was forwarded to
the drafting group.
On the Programme for the
Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law for the First
Decade of the Twenty-first Century, EGYPT expressed concerns over
the limited representation by developing countries’ legal
experts on talks regarding the Montevideo III Programme relating
to environmental law. She proposed text calling for a review of
the implementation of the Programme by 2002, rather than 2005.
CANADA, the US and AUSTRALIA opposed this, and the COW adopted the
decision without amendment.
On policy and advisory services
in key areas of institution building, the EU called for
elaboration of text on public access to information. The COW
referred the text to the drafting group. Delegates then considered
text on draft guidelines on compliance with international
environmental agreements and on effective national environmental
enforcement and international cooperation in combating
environmental crime. CHINA, with COLOMBIA and EGYPT, expressed
concern over compliance guidelines, the implications of
enforcement guidelines on national sovereignty, and lack of
clarity on the term "environmental crime." JAPAN and
NORWAY noted the utility of guidelines on compliance. Several
delegates said the original text considered by the Committee of
Permanent Representatives (CPR) enjoyed more support than the
current text, and both texts were forwarded to the drafting group.
On the role of civil society,
the EU highlighted the significance of civil society partners.
NORWAY proposed the establishment of an ad hoc NGO
committee. CANADA, supported by US, ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, INDIA and
AUSTRALIA expressed concern that establishing an ad hoc NGO
committee assumed a foregone conclusion of the consultative
process. The draft decision was forwarded to the drafting group.
REGIONAL COOPERATION AND
REPRESENTATION: UNEP Deputy Executive
Director Kakakhel introduced the subprogramme on regional
cooperation and representation and its related draft decision on
Support to Africa. The EU supported UNEP’s strengthened role in
this area, and suggested text linking poverty and the environment.
MOROCCO and several other developing countries supported language
on additional financial resources relating to developing country
preparation for and participation in UNFCCC COP-7 and the World
Summit on Sustainable Development. The draft text was referred to
the drafting group, along with the suggested amendments.
The COW then considered a number of decisions relevant to UNEP’s
subprogramme on environmental conventions. The COW adopted draft
decisions on the status of international conventions and protocols
in the field of the environment, and on the establishment of a new
regional seas programme for the East Central Pacific region.
On atmosphere and climate
issues, the EU and others expressed concern over text on adverse
impacts of response measures under the UNFCCC and the Kyoto
Protocol, given the status of climate negotiations. The issue was
referred to the drafting group. Other draft decisions referred to
the drafting group following proposals by delegates related to:
coral reefs; biosafety; and strengthening of regional seas
The COW also considered a draft
decision on UNEP’s participation in the GEF’s work, accepting
the text for editing by the drafting group.
WORKING GROUP ON BUDGET MATTERS
The group completed a
paragraph-by-paragraph consideration of the draft decision on the
Environment Fund budgets proposed for the 2002-2003 biennium, with
few amendments. Delegates considered: the need for detailed
reports linking resources to mandate and to objectives and
activities; the necessity for CPR to approve changes in programme
priorities; proposed changes in the resource mobilization strategy
staffing structure; and resource increases to UNEP rather than
UNON. A paragraph was inserted recommending caution in the
creation of additional posts under the Fund.
Executive Director Klaus Töpfer introduced the issues related to
global environmental governance and UNEP, and said the World
Summit on Sustainable Development should review requirements for
strengthened institutional structures for governance. CANADA
reported on an informal meeting that had discussed its proposal to
establish an eminent experts’ panel on governance on Tuesday.
The EU, MOZAMBIQUE, BANGLADESH, TANZANIA, KENYA, CAMBODIA, BURKINA
FASO, AUSTRALIA, the SUDAN and others supported strengthening UNEP
and broadening its financial base, and called for adequate, stable
and predictable funding for UNEP.
JAPAN, EGYPT and others said
consideration of environmental governance must be conducted in the
broader context of sustainable development. The US said lack of
adequate time and resources precluded the establishment of an
eminent persons panel, preferred the enhancement of existing
structures, and supported dissolution of the HLCOM. EGYPT and
MAURITIUS opposed establishing any new organization or institution
on governance. The EU, with MAURITIUS, said governance should be
strengthened, but must build on existing institutions. NORWAY
supported an improved environmental institutional architecture
that is optimal, reviewed and strengthened regularly and conducted
as an intergovernmental process that integrates external
expertise. The EU suggested an ad hoc intersessional
working group could address strengthening international
environmental governance in preparation for the World Summit on
JAPAN and SWITZERLAND emphasized
cooperation with non-state actors. CHINA said the discussion on
global environmental governance should take into account recent
General Assembly resolutions. KUWAIT expressed concern that there
was still no agreement on how to run UNEP.
SWITZERLAND stressed the need to
strengthen coordination institutions, conventions and
secretariats, including the Environment Management Group, with
high-level representation, and financed by the UN. UGANDA called
for a separate Secretariat to prepare for the World Summit on
The SOUTH ASIA ENVIRONMENT
COOPERATION PROGRAMME noted that UNEP has not addressed the issue
of poverty adequately. The RAMSAR CONVENTION regretted the lack of
attention given to the issue of linkages at this session. The
ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN proposed
addressing environmental problems through foreign investment and
mobilizing of domestic resources, not ODA. UNDP emphasized the
provision of sustainable energy services.
PANEL ON CHEMICALS:
In the afternoon, Plenary held a panel discussion on the Chemicals
Agenda. Executive Director Klaus Töpfer congratulated John
Buccini for successfully chairing the POPs negotiations. Jim
Willis, Director of UNEP Chemicals, outlined the development of
chemical management. John Buccini elaborated on the structure,
aims and objectives of the POPs Convention. Swedish Environment
Minister Kjell Larsson expressed EU support for UNEP’s work on
chemicals and said the precautionary principle must be a central
element in any chemical strategy. Lynn Goldman, John Hopkins
University, discussed the adverse impacts of POPs on the
development of children. Henrique Cavalcanti, President of the
Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS), described the
IFCS as the overarching mechanism for international cooperation on
In the ensuing discussion,
SWITZERLAND proposed locating the three chemical conventions in
Geneva, and creating a chemicals "cluster" to promote
synergies and avoid duplication. The US supported institutional
linkages but not a complete merger. MOROCCO highlighted a recent
African regional meeting resulting in a chemicals prevention and
management programme of action. SENEGAL called for assistance to
Africa to ensure environmentally sound use of chemicals. ICELAND,
CANADA, the US and others proposed a global assessment of mercury.
Agreeing , NORWAY, the NETHERLANDS, and the CZECH REPUBLIC also
supported assessments of other heavy metals of concern. The US
said a mercury assessment should not prejudge what actions, if
any, should be taken, and pledged $100,000 for such a study.
ICELAND supported elaborating a voluntary international code to
phase-out lead in gasoline.
ICELAND, NORWAY, the NETHERLANDS
and the CZECH REPUBLIC supported investigating the merits of
elaborating a global strategy on chemicals management. The US said
the Bahia Declaration adopted by IFCS provided a global chemicals
strategy, and opposed developing another global strategy on
chemicals. CANADA expressed concern with a broad based strategy
and said the proposal required further consideration.
ICELAND, supported by the
NETHERLANDS and CANADA, proposed the establishment of a working
group to set priorities and provide clear direction to UNEP on
future steps to be taken regarding chemicals. Executive Director
Tï¿½pfer said he would recommend this proposal to the Councilï¿½s
In the drafting group, several
delegates questioned the groupï¿½s mandate, given that outstanding
issues in draft decisions forwarded to it appeared to exceed
simple editorial and linguistic matters.
Delegates adopted a draft
decision on CCD implementation. On the Global Programme of Action
for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based
Activities, delegates agreed to accommodate a concern related to
sovereignty. Delegates also agreed to an amendment encouraging
UNEP to promote environmental data sharing. The group agreed to
refer text on the Malmï¿½ Declaration back to the COW for
redeliberation. After some debate, delegates adopted UNEPï¿½s
water policy and strategy with minor amendments.
During discussion on further
improving environmental emergency prevention, preparedness,
assessment, response and mitigation, delegates could not agree to
the proposed amendments and sent the draft decision back to the
On policy and advisory services
in key areas of institution-building, delegates adopted amendments
requesting the Executive Director to present a report on
international legal instruments. On the role of civil society,
delegates approved amendments made in the COW deleting reference
to the establishment of an ad hoc NGO Committee.
IN THE BREEZEWAYS
The breezeways were buzzing
Wednesday as delegates discussed the arrival of UNFCCC COP-6
President Jan Pronk for bilateral and informal consultations on
how and when to move forward on climate negotiations that stalled
last November in The Hague. With many of the key players present
at this meeting and a UNFCCC Bureau meeting scheduled for next
week, Pronk is taking the opportunity to meet with delegations.
Although many close to the talks were keeping tight-lipped, there
were suggestions that some delegates might be amenable to a US
suggestion to hold talks in July or later, rather than in May.
However, some delegates apparently fear a loss of momentum.
Other talk Wednesday evening
focused on disappointing progress in the COW. Many participants
expressed confusion over the process and approach, and expressed a
desire for clearer guidance and management from the Chair.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
will convene at 10:00 am for the opening of the ministerial-level
consultation followed by the roundtable ministerial dialogue on
the implementation and development of the Nairobi and Malmï¿½
Declarations. Kenyan President Daniel Moi is expected to address
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: The
COW will resume at 10:00 am to continue considering the remaining
draft decisions relating to several subprogrammes. It is then
likely to receive the report of the working group on programme and
WORKING GROUP: The
Working Group on programme and budget will reconvene at 10:00am to
consider decisions on administrative and budgetary matters, and
Mercure satellite communication system.
DRAFTING GROUP: The
Drafting Group will resume at 10:00 am to consider draft decisions
forwarded by the COW.
An event entitled Dialogue with Parliamentarians: A vision for
Building Our Common Future, is scheduled for 1:00 pm in Conference
Room 3. The UNEP.net website will be launched at 2:00 pm in the
Press Center. A working dinner for ministers, heads of delegation
and special guests will be held from 8:00 pm at ICRAF.
President Anderson is expected to circulate his "non
paper" containing suggestions to delegates and propose to
initiate informal consultations on governance.