Published by the International
Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 16 No.
Friday, February 9, 2001
UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS
THURSDAY, 8 FEBRUARY 2001
Delegates convened in Plenary
for the opening of the ministerial-level segment of the meeting,
which was followed by a round-table ministerial dialogue on
implementation and development of the Nairobi and Malmö
Declarations. Two break-out groups, on poverty and pollution and
on poverty and health, were also held. The Committee of the Whole
(COW) convened in afternoon and evening sessions to continue
considering draft decisions. The drafting group, working group on
budget and administrative matters, and several informal contact
groups also met.
OPENING CEREMONY: In
his introductory remarks, Governing Council President David
Anderson reminded delegates of the importance of the Ministerial
Forum leading up to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development. Nitin Desai, UN Under-Secretary-General of Economic
and Social Affairs, said he considered the Session to be the
launch for the Summit. Mohammed Valli Moosa, South African
Minister of Environment and Tourism, underscored the need for
public mobilization and proposed seven elements to guide
discussions on governance, including: defining workable
institutional arrangements; addressing finances, including
examining decision-making of international financial institutions;
and instituting a system that empowers developing countries to
participate meaningfully. He proposed that discussion on
governance be conducted at the Ministerial level, as the issues
Two children spoke to the
gathering, saying they were making two sculptures: a tree
symbolizing the tree of life; and a bridge, symbolizing dialogue
among civilizations, and bridges between rich and poor and young
UNEP/UNON/UNCHS staff union
President Mary Odhiambo paid special tribute to UNEP Executive
Director Klaus Töpfer on efforts to promote open staff dialogue.
Tokiko Kato, UNEP Envoy of Japan, stressed concern over a changing
global environment and performed two songs. Klaus Töpfer
emphasized the need for a successful World Summit on Sustainable
Development resulting in concrete decisions and actions. He called
for financial backing to assist UNEP fulfill its commitment to the
Summit. Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi highlighted UNEP’s
financial constraints, stressed mobilization of traditional and
non-traditional resources, and urged the private sector to make
ROUNDTABLE MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE:
Following the opening speeches, the
ministerial roundtable on implementation and development of the
Nairobi and Malmö Declarations convened. The EU supported: a
global chemicals strategy; enhanced international environmental
governance; renewed partnerships; adequate resources; and
strengthening the GEF. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said the trend
toward globalization and growth of environmental risks demands new
approaches to solving environmental problems. He also called for a
joint group for cooperation in providing assistance to countries
with disasters and a global network for information exchange.
JAPAN said UNEP should be improved and its financial difficulties
resolved, and noted UNEP’s important role in coordinating MEAs.
Nitin Desai highlighted
preparatory activities for and expectations of the World Summit on
Sustainable Development, and stressed the importance of national
preparations. He said the Summit was expected to address, inter
alia: globalization; the anti-poverty agenda; financing for
development; and international environmental governance.
MINISTERIAL CONSULTATIONS ON
ENVIRONMENT AND POVERTY: In the
afternoon, Plenary discussed environment and poverty issues.
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s former Minister of Finance and Planning,
and Foreign Affairs, discussed linkages between poverty and
environment, recommending, inter alia, that UNEP consider
establishing a task force on environment and poverty to further
explore linkages. Ann Kern, Executive Director, Sustainable
Development and Health, WHO, highlighted links between health,
environment and poverty, noting that disease undermines economic
progress and has spread with globalization. She called for action
on: indoor pollution, water and sanitation, global warming and
chemicals. Plenary then split into two break-out groups: poverty
and pollution; and poverty and health.
BREAK-OUT GROUPS: Poverty and
Pollution: This group was chaired by
Dutch Environment Minister Jan Pronk, who posed three questions to
the group: is overconsumption causing "overpollution"
and thereby increasing poverty elsewhere; is pollution equally
affecting the poor and the rich; and should priority be given to
anti-pollution measures or to poverty eradication? Many delegates
agreed that overconsumption leads to overpollution. Some
participants distinguished between global and local pollution,
noting that both are the result of inefficient use of resources.
Most participants said the poor are affected more than the rich
because even if the degree of pollution is comparable, the rich
have more resources to combat its effects. Many delegates said
priority should be given to poverty eradication rather than
anti-pollution measures, noting that once people are informed and
educated, they are better able to fight pollution. Some said the
two strategies should be integrated and addressed concurrently.
Some agreed that pollution was inevitable with economic growth,
and said it should be controlled at the source.
Renewable energy utilization,
biotechnology, cleaner production and recycling were highlighted
as poverty combatants, and a number of delegates opposed single
input solutions to poverty. International measures suggested by
the group included: regulation of companies; fighting illegal
transport of toxic waste and dumping; and debt relief measures to
free-up resources for both anti-poverty and anti-pollution
Poverty and health:
This group was chaired by Harry Ian Thompson, Malawi’s
Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. Delegates
highlighted the following issues for consideration for UNEP’s
input for the World Summit on Sustainable Development: water,
sanitation, pollution and waste management and the impacts on
health of mercury, uranium, PCB, DDT and dioxin. Delegates
differed on whether UNEP, or FAO and WHO, should provide
leadership on these issues.
Due to differences in regional
priorities, delegates agreed to have regional preparatory
processes and, in order to enhance implementation, supported
participation by health and environment ministers. A
representative of the Global Legislators Organization for a
Balanced Environment (GLOBE) urged the involvement of
Parliamentarians, as they influence resource use, supply bilateral
and multilateral aid and ratify and implement treaties.
Regarding capacities, delegates
from small Pacific islands stressed challenges in waste disposal,
while African countries called for financial, technological and
capacity-building support aimed at self-sufficiency.
There was consensus that the
outputs of the Summit should be action-oriented and manageable.
They should target rural and urban needs as appropriate,
distinguish between developed and developing countries’
responsibilities, and enhance synergies. Delegates stressed the
need to ratify pending environmental agreements to avoid their
proving counterproductive to the Summit.
Following the break-out group
meetings, Plenary reconvened to hear brief reports from the Chairs
of the groups.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
The COW met in the afternoon and
evening to continue consideration of several draft decisions,
adopting one decision and agreeing to consider all others in a
session on Friday.
ROLE OF YOUTH: A
decision on youth participation and engagement drafted by youth
representatives attending the meeting and submitted by Canada and
the EU was considered and adopted by the COW.
Draft decisions related to the chemicals agenda were forwarded to
a working group, which will report back to the COW on Friday
TRADE AND ENVIRONMENT: On
this draft decision, CHINA, supported by the US and EGYPT, raised
concerns that environment and trade links could result in
discriminatory trade barriers or investment flaws. An informal
contact group was convened that reached consensus on the draft
decision. The redrafted text will be presented to the COW.
COW addressed a draft decision proposed by Iran on the UN Forum on
Forests and enhancing UNEP’s role in relation to forest issues.
After amendments were introduced by several delegates, the matter
was set aside for further consideration.
GLOBAL ASSESSMENT OF THE MARINE
ENVIRONMENT: Chair Radziejowski
indicated that the COW would take up the draft decision proposed
by Iceland on Global Assessment of the State of the Marine
Environment on Friday.
On the further improvement of the strategic framework on
environmental emergency prevention, preparedness, assessment,
response and mitigation, Deputy Executive Director Kakakhel noted
that informal consultations had been held to resolve outstanding
issues, but that further negotiations were required.
GUIDELINES ON COMPLIANCE,
ENFORCEMENT, AND ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME: A
contact group formed on Wednesday submitted consensus text on the
draft decision relating to guidelines on compliance with
international environmental agreements and effective national
environmental enforcement and international cooperation and
coordination in combating environmental crimes. The redrafted text
will be considered by the COW.
Executive Director Kakakhel said there were two aspects to the
issue of governance - governance of UNEP and global governance.
Delegates considered the draft decision on UNEP, before
establishing a contact group to discuss proposed amendments.
WORKING GROUP ON BUDGETARY
The Group considered the draft
decision on administrative and other budgetary matters, and
proposed and discussed numerous amendments. Participants agreed to
forward a revised text to the COW. The Group also considered the
draft decision on Mercure satellite communications systems.
Delegates were informed that Kenya was in negotiations with UNEP
on this issue. However the text was agreed with a number of
amendments after consensus that it was without prejudice to these
The Group continued considering
draft decisions forwarded by the COW. The following draft
decisions were approved with minor amendments: the status of
international conventions and protocols in the field of the
environment; establishment of a regional seas programme for the
East Central Pacific region; atmosphere; further development and
strengthening of regional seas programmes: promoting the
conservation and sustainable use of the marine and coastal
environment; building partnerships and establishing linkages with
multilateral environmental agreements; participation of UNEP in
the work of GEF; and coral reefs.
On support to Africa, one
country added "within available resources" with regard
to financial support to Africaï¿½s participation in the
forthcoming COP-7 of UNFCCC and World Summit on Sustainable
Development. Another expressed the concern that the decision might
exclude financial support to other countries and regions.
Delegates approved the draft decision with the proposed additional
language. On biosafety, one country proposed deleting reference to
the UNEP International Technical Guidelines for Safety in
Biotechnology. Another added a new paragraph requesting UNEPï¿½s
Executive Director to mobilize funds to support capacity building
of developing countries and countries with economies in
transition. The draft decision was agreed with the proposals.
Regarding further improvement of the strategic framework on
environmental emergency prevention, preparedness, assessment,
response and mitigation, discussion centered around several new
paragraphs presented by one delegation. Some delegations noted the
uncertainty of terms such as "manmade accidents and
disasters" and "non-economic environmental harms."
The proposal was agreed with some linguistic amendments.
On the implementation of the
Malmï¿½ Declaration, several countries expressed concern that the
Declaration has superceded the Nairobi Declaration and redefined
UNEPï¿½s mandate. Others stressed the importance of implementing
the Malmï¿½ Declaration and the Executive Directorï¿½s mandate to
monitor and report on such implementation. After lengthy debate,
the draft decision was approved unchanged, with the understanding
that the Malmï¿½ Declaration has not superceded the Nairobi
Declaration or changed UNEPï¿½s mandate.
IN THE BREEZEWAYS
"Confusion" was the
word on many delegatesï¿½ lips today. Uncertainty about the
procedures and organization of the COW and its informal groups
continued as delegates struggled to work their way through a large
number of draft decisions. Several observers voiced concern that
time is fast running out for the COW to secure agreement on all
the outstanding texts, in spite of the formation of several
informal groups. However, while some participants are questioning
whether sufficient time remains for the COW to complete its work,
others remain optimistic that it will rise to the challenge.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: The
COW is scheduled to convene at 10:00 am to hear reports from
informal groups and will attempt to reach agreement on all the
outstanding draft decisions and adopt its report.
will convene at 9:30 am to consider environmental vulnerability of
natural and manmade disasters, followed by discussions on
governance. At 3:00 pm, delegates are expected to meet for the
Closing Plenary, adopt the provisional agenda and determine the
date and venue of the Governing Councilï¿½s seventh special
session and 22nd regular session.
SPECIAL EVENTS: A
workshop on Compliance and Enforcement will take place from 1:00
pm in Conference Room 3. A workshop on Renewable Energy
Technology: Potential for Africa, will begin at 1:00 pm in the