Eighth Global Civil Society Forum
3-4 February 2007| Nairobi, Kenya

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5 February 2007
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The 8th Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF-8) met from 3-4 February 2007, at the UN Office in Nairobi , Kenya . The meeting was organized by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with support from the African Council for Communication Education. About 160 participants, representing civil society organizations (CSOs) from around 50 countries, attended GCSF-8.

The meeting addressed: the draft decisions of the 24th Session of the UNEP Governing Council (GC-24) / Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF); the programme of work of the GCSF Global Steering Committee; civil society participation in GC-24/GMEF; and the way forward to engage major groups in the work of UNEP. GCSF-8 also discussed policy issues related to four themes: water and the environment; gender and the environment; chemicals management; and globalization, ecosystem services and human well-being. GCSF-8 will forward to GC-24/GMEF a Global Civil Society Statement, addressing these four themes as well as overarching aims.

GCSF-8 constituted a milestone in the history of the GCSF. For the first time, participants engaged in active discussion with UNEP's Executive Director, allowing for a direct and open exchange of information and views. Another highlight was the concrete preparation of input into the GC/GMEF ministerial roundtables, to which civil society representatives have been granted access for the first time. At the end of the meeting, the general sense was that GCSF-8 fulfilled its objectives, having enabled and stimulated fruitful input into GC-24/GMEF, while encouraging future cooperation and dialogue.

 

Highlights from Saturday, 3 February, 2007 (see below for highlights from 4 February)
 
 
Olivier Deleuze, Chief, Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch, UNEP, Beverly Miller, Secretariat, UNEP, Shafqat Kakakhel, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, UNEP, and Cristina Boelcke, Director, Division of Regional Cooperation, UNEP
 
 

Shafqat Kakakhel, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, UNEP (left), underlined the historical relationship between civil society organizations (CSOs) and UNEP, noting that CSOs, despite reluctance of many governments, spearheaded the efforts for the establishment of an intergovernmental environmental organization during the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972. He identified the GCSF as a major landmark in intensifying the relationship between UNEP and CSOs, and GCSF-8 as an important milestone representing the culmination of a wider-ranging, regional preparatory process.

George Odera Outa, African Council for Communication Education (ACCE) (center), welcomed participants to Nairobi , noting that the ACCE is proudly co-hosting GCSF-8 together with UNEP. Stating that environmental issues have become one of the most important challenges of our time, he underlined the importance of communication and education in advancing the environmental agenda.

Forum Co-Chair Michael Koech, Sustainable Development and Environment Network of Kenya (SENKE), Kenya (right), recalled the work undertaken in 2006 by the six UNEP regions in preparation for GCSF-8. He noted the establishment of the Global Steering Committee, which comprises representatives from all six regions, and the development of the draft GCSF Statement that will be presented to GC-24/GMEF.

 
Review of selected GC/GMEF topics and draft decisions
 
 
 
Melanie Nakagawa, Natural Resources Defense Council, US, Mahmood Khwaja, Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Pakistan, and Sascha Gabizon, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), Germany
 
 

Kilaparti Ramakrishna, UNEP Executive Office (left), presented on globalization, ecosystem services and human well-being. He elaborated on the multi-dimensional nature of globalization, which encompasses cultural, ecological, political and technological aspects, and acknowledged globalization impacts which have increased in intensity and magnitude. Ramakrishna also highlighted issues relating to gender and the environment and the implementation of GC Decision 23/11 on equal participation in decision making and gender mainstreaming. He explained how a UNEP Gender Plan of Action has been developed, including detailed timelines, terms of reference for gender focal points.

Global Steering Committee member Tom Hammond, IUCN (center), gave an overview of the draft GCSF Statement (UNEP/GC/24/INF/10), which is based on preparatory consultations in the six UNEP regions. He said the draft Statement focuses on four thematic areas: globalization; gender and the environment; water and the environment; and chemicals management. IUCN, Canada,

Tim Kasten, UNEP (right), discussed how UNEP's draft Water Policy and Strategy (UNEP/ GC/24/4/Add.1) sets out to contribute substantively to environmental sustainability in the management of water resources, utilizing integrated ecosystem approaches as a contribution to the internationally agreed targets and goals relevant to water and socioeconomic development.

 
 
Matthew Gubb, Secretariat of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) (right), discussed chemicals-related issues tabled for consideration by the GC, citing: synergies between chemicals-related multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs); SAICM; lead and cadmium management; and mercury management.
 
Presentation of the work programme of the Global Steering Committee
 
 

Global Steering Committee members Esther Marianne Neuhaus, Brazilian Forum of NGOs and Social Movements for Sustainable Development (FBMOS), Brazil, and Gordon Bispham, Caribbean Policy Development Centre, Barbados

Gordon Bispham briefly presented the work programme of the Committee. He said it identifies four critical areas of future action: broadening and deepening partnerships; facilitating intra- and interregional CSO networking; enhancing information flows and a more comprehensive communication strategy; and promoting further cooperation towards the next GCSF.

Esther Neuhaus elaborated on the establishment of the Committee and its activities. She said the Committee aims to: increase the impact of the GCSF at GC/GMEF meetings through enhanced capacity among CSOs; increase ownership and engagement of civil society at governance level; and foster interregional dialogue.

 

On Saturday afternoon, Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, joined the meeting to deliver an address and engage in interactive dialogue with the GCSF. Steiner said that CSOs have an important opportunity to assist UNEP in articulating a response to climate change, degradation of natural resources, unsustainable use and the collapse of ecosystems, stressing that the focus should be on persuading the international community to move the environmental sustainability agenda forward. He underscored that CSOs should be seen as more than just observers, but rather as assets and resources. He also invited the business community to use UNEP as a platform for sending a signal to the world on how it wants to be perceived as part of the solution and not always part of the problem .

 
Highlights from Sunday, 4 February
 
Way forward to engage major groups in the work of UNEP
 
 
 
Lucien Royer, International Trade Union Confederation, and Esther Neuhaus, Global Steering Committee
 
 
Jürg Gerber, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Jöhan Rockstrom, Stockholm Environment Institute, and Jacob Mati, CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation
 
Dialogue session on globalization, ecosystem services and human well-being with business and industry, local authorities, indigenous people and their communities and governtment representatives
 
 
Discussant Ross van Horn, Island Resources Foundation, and Walter Johannes Lindner, German Ambassador to Kenya (left), and Doaa Abdel Motaal, Economic Affairs Officer, WTO (right)
 
 
Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), and Esther Camac, Ixacavaa Association for Indigenous Development and Information, Costa Rica
 
 
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