The Co-Chairs discuss amendments to the draft text.
The third and final substantive session of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) established by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 72/277 (“Towards a Global Pact for the Environment”) completed its mandate and adopted its recommendations to the UNGA, following its consideration of possible gaps in international environmental law (IEL) and environment-related instruments with a view to strengthening their implementation.
The final document, adopted by the OEWG in the early morning hours of 23 May 2019, has three sections, setting out:
Objectives, including the reinforcement of environmental protection for present and future generations and strengthening IEL and environment-related instruments;
Substantive recommendations; and
Consideration of further work.
The OEWG asked UNGA to circulate its recommendations to UN Member States and members of UN specialized agencies and governing bodies of multilateral environmental agreements for consideration and action. The OEWG also recommends that UNGA forward the recommendations to the United Nations Environment Assembly for its consideration, in conjunction with the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme in 2022, with a view to strengthening IEL and environmental governance.
During the closing plenary, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) described political will as the most important gap and accused those countries most responsible for the planet’s ecological breakdown of attempting to “kill the process.” Co-Chair Duarte Lopes captured the muted tone of the session when he responded by thanking the NGOs for helping to steer the ambition of the process, and acknowledged that the outcome was weak. Nevertheless, he said, it was based on consensus, and provides a first step in a continuing process.
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB Meeting Coverage, has provided daily web coverage and a summary and analysis report from the 3rd Substantive Session of the Ad Hoc Open Ended Working Group Towards a Global Pact for the Environment. The summary and analysis report is now available in HTML and PDF.
Delegates submitted a series of proposed changes to the Co-Chairs "zero draft" issued on Tuesday.
One year on from the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption of Resolution 72/277 (“Towards a Global Pact for the Environment”) and the establishment of the open-ended working group (OEWG), delegations prepared to intensify informal negotiations at the UN Office at Nairobi.
Delegations at the third substantive session of the OEWG prepared for late night informal negotiations on some of the recommendations to UNGA that will help define the pathway, the prospects and the promise of a high-level outcome.
On the second day of the OEWG session, Co-Chairs Franciso António Duarte Lopes, Portugal, and Amal Mudallali, Lebanon, presented a revised version of their non-paper (25 April 2019) on recommendations to the UNGA on objectives, substantive recommendations, and the modalities for passing them on to UNGA. The new zero draft had been posted Monday evening (20 May 2019), on the basis of that day’s deliberations and submissions to the Co-Chairs, and is organised in three sections:
Substantive recommendations; and
Recommendations to UNGA in support of taking forward the substantive recommendations.
The third and defining section on the shape of recommendations on modalities to UNGA remained in brackets. It was these options, including the adoption of an international instrument at a high-level UN conference and the establishment of a preparatory committee to make substantive recommendations to UNGA during the first half of 2020 on elements of an international instrument, which were the subject of intensive rounds of negotiations on Monday and Tuesday evenings.
Proposals on the table range from a recommendation that UNGA adopt a resolution to consider an international instrument at a UN conference at Heads of State or government level by 2021--possibly marking the historic 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment--to inviting UNGA to simply circulate recommendations to States and make them available to Secretariats of MEAs.
Co-Chairs Francisco António Duarte Lopes, Permanent Representative of Portugal and Amal Mudallali, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Lebanon, and Jamil Ahmad, Director, New York Office, UNEP
Co-Chair Francisco António Duarte Lopes greets a delegate before the start of the meeting
Delegates review the draft recommendations before the start of the discussion
Working on revisions to the zero text
Akram Mirzakhani, Iran
Helge Elisabeth Zeitler, European Union
Abdullah Tawlah, Saudi Arabia, speaks to Andrew Neustaetter, US, and members of the US delegation
Fany Beatriz Ramos Quispe, Bolivia
Delegates in discussion
Ather Aljarboa, Saudi Arabia
Delegates confer during the break.
Delegates review the draft text during the discussion.
The third and final substantive session of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) established by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 72/277 (“Towards a Global Pact for the Environment”) convened in plenary in the morning and afternoon, before breaking out for informal discussions.
In plenary, delegates were invited to respond to a non-paper prepared by Co-Chairs Amal Mudallali, Lebanon, and Francisco António Duarte Lopes, Portugal, which had been circulated in April. The non-paper has three sections:
1. Elements related to the objectives informing the recommendations of the OEWG;
2. Elements related to the substantive recommendations of the OEWG; and
3. Elements related to the process.
Differences mainly emerged in response to "Elements related to the process", including references to “the adoption of an international instrument at a high-level UN conference”, establishing a “preparatory committee” ahead of the 73rd session of the UNGA in 2020, a timeline, and open “negotiations.”
In mid-afternoon, having noted the wide range of opinions, including assertions that no consensus exists on a new international instrument, whether binding or non-binding, the Co-Chairs mandated two delegates, Elizabeth Taylor, Colombia, and Solveig Crompton, Norway, to co-facilitate informal discussions on section three of the non-paper. Delegations welcomed the informal setting for discussions, with some noting that the format had come late in the process; and took the opportunity to detail the rationale behind their positions on the merits of the section.
The Co-Chairs also undertook to prepare a “zero text” for Tuesday on sections one and two.
To read the Co-Chairs’ non-paper, please click here.
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