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Third Meeting of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Group of Ministers or their Representatives on International Environmental Governance
Algiers, Algeria; 9-10 September 2001

Sounds and images from Sunday, 9 September      << Back to main page (10 september) <<

Delegates gathered today for the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Ministers convened specially to discuss international environmental governance (IEG). The main discussion focused on a revised report on IEG by UNEP's Executive Director, Klaus Topfer, and a "building blocks" document prepared by the President of UNEP's Governing Council, David Anderson.

Right: a member of the presidential guard in ceremonial dress, awaiting the arrival of the President of the Republic.

Upon his arrival, Abdelaziz Boutefika, President of the Republic of Algeria, was greeted by David Anderson, Canadian Minister of the Environment and Chair of IGM-3 [left]; and by Klaus Topfer, Executive Director of UNEP [right].
Next, the Ministers and heads of delegation in attendance were introduced to the President.
Opening Ceremony
David Anderson, Minister of the Environment, Canada, and President of the Governing Council of UNEP, said International Environmental Governance (IEG) is emerging as one of the principal topics for consideration at the WSSD in South Africa in 2002. He noted that the presence of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria augured well for the future of IEG.
Anderson's welcome to the President
(in the original French)
In his opening address President Bouteflika highlighted factors hindering effective implementation of the UNCED agreements including, inter alia, poverty, consumption and production patterns, and macro-economic constraints. He called for: efforts and mechanisms to make MEAs more democratic; integration of the environment into economic and social concerns; support for a Southern NGO meeting to be hosted by Algeria in October 2001; and a reconstitution of the UNEP Environment Fund.
Excerpts of the President's address:

English: part A part B
Francais: partie A partie B

The President of UNEP's Governing Council, David Anderson, recalled progress to date in the IEG deliberations. Sharing his own perspective on the work of the third meeting of the IGM, Anderson invited participants to reach a consensus on a framework for the preparation of an agreed text, identifying as many areas of convergence as possible.
Anderson's opening statement
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer presented his revised report (UNEP/IGM/3/2), prepared in accordance with Governing Council decision 21/21 paragraph 4 that requests for the Executive Director's report as a "living document" that evolves to reflect discussions at IEG meetings, and highlighting areas of consensus. Noting that this was the first time the IGM/IEG process was meeting for two days to exclusively discuss this issue, he urged delegates not only to exchange views but also find solutions, and added that the Global Environment Outlook (GEO 3) would be ready at the latest in May 2002.


Topfer's presentation:
part one  part two

Anderson introduced his "building blocks" proposals on IEG (UNEP/IGM/3/CRP.1). He said the paper captures the essence of converging opinions as expressed at the two previous meetings of the IGM and enjoys the full support of the Bureau of the UNEP Governing Council. He said the paper identifies key pressures and imperatives for improving IEG and the key challenges in the short-, medium- and long term, while recognizing that there is no single "silver bullet" solution

Anderson presents his "building blocks" paper

Above and below: view from the back of the plenary hall of the Palais des Nations

Statements from delegations

The G-77/China noted that deliberations on IEG have entered a critical stage and announced the publication of G-77/China-commissioned research papers from the Third World Network and the South Centre. He highlighted a number of points, including: maintaining the linkage between environment and development and approaching IEG through the lens of sustainable development; using a strengthened International Sustainable Development Governance context to improve interactions with the multilateral trade and finance institutions; and the status of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) as the main forum for high-level policy debate on sustainable development, and a review of the CSD in the context of the WSSD preparatory process (GA Resolution A/55/199).
G77/China opening statement:
part one  part two

Belgium, on behalf of the European Union (EU), said the European Council had identified IEG as a priority issue in the pursuit of sustainable development at the global level. She said: the institutional architecture for IEG should have sufficient capacity, authority and credibility to address environmental threats in a globalizing world; EU member states plan to increase their ODA levels to 0.7% of their GDP by the 2002 WSSD and called on other partners to reciprocate; and added that the Chair's proposals contained in the building blocks formed a good basis for dialogue on the IEG.
Opening statement of the EU
In response to delegates' comments at the close of the discussion, she urged delegates to respond to the proposals in the text, not what is imagined could be behind the proposals.
Second statement by the EU

PALESTINE praised UNEP for its role in supporting developing countries and thanked Algeria for its moral, political and material support during the occupation by Israel. He proposed the establishment of an international environmental court and outlined the efforts of the Palestinian Authority to protect the environment. He said that Israel had shelled the Palestinian Ministry of the Environment in Ramallah. Right: after his statement, the Palestinian delegate distributed pieces of shrapnel to the participants to illustrate the struggle of the Palestinian people.
Raoul Estrada-Oyuela (Argentina) moderated the afternoon session.
Jan Pronk, The NETHERLANDS, suggested that participants were on the right track to reach a consensus on strengthening and reforming IEG, adding that the EU position states that IEG ought to be at the service of international sustainable development, including poverty reduction.
Listen to the Netherland's intervention

Bangladesh stated that the IEG reform and revitalization can only benefit sustainable development by addressing emergency response concerns, the root causes of environment degradation and adherence to commitments, particularly regarding financial contributions. He noted the need to clarify the roles, mandates and structures of the GMEF and the EMG, noting however that the latter is not a governmental organization but a body of secretariats.

SWITZERLAND supported Chair Anderson's "building blocks" paper, in particular his concern for coherence in IEG through a strengthened political leadership role for the GMEF and stable funding for UNEP. He said a strengthened EMG, operating within the UN system, could reflect the legitimate desire of the G-77/China to develop IEG within the context of sustainable development.
India said the IEG should be viewed in the broader context of governance, particularly the three pillars of sustainable development. Regarding strengthening integration with existing financial, trade and technical aspects, he said WTO has adequate capacity to take up these issues, and expressed strong reservation on the proposal to create a WEO, but was supportive of strengthening UNEP and maintaining its location in Nairobi
Norway said that the key challenge is to mainstream environment concerns into development so that market forces work in favor of poverty eradication proposals. She expressed disappointment at some delegations' objection to seek finances for UNEP from the UN regular fund.
The United States said the paper on harmonization of national reporting (UNEP/IGM/3/CRP.2) provides a rigorous assessment of the problem, and noted that the system itself is not so ill, but is self-correcting as the MEAs had already begun to address inconsistencies, thus he supported a case-by-case consideration of clusters, as well as coordination and implementation at the national levels.
South Africa described global poverty as the single most important threat to sustainable development and announced that South Africa would use the WSSD to call for a global compact between governments, the private sector and civil society.
The UNDP representative supported: a strengthened IEG; a strengthened UNEP with sufficient financial resources, including both scientific and technical apsects; and a broadening of the IEG debate beyond Ministries of Environment.
The WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION suggested that proposals to strengthen UNEP's capacity on early warning and monitoring systems will require elaboration because a number of agencies are already involved in such activities.
Estrada's presents his recapitulation and conclusion of the day's discussion
Below: a buffet-lunch fit for a minister (or his/her representative)

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