Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 16 No. 27
Wednesday, 5 February 2003
UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS
TUESDAY, 4 FEBRUARY 2003
Delegates met in Plenary throughout the day,
discussing policy issues, outcomes of the World Summit on
Sustainable Development (WSSD), and linkages among
environment-related conventions, with a particular focus on
chemicals, trade and water issues. The Committee of the Whole (COW)
also met in morning and afternoon sessions to consider programmatic,
administrative and budgetary matters, the state of the environment,
emerging policy issues, and the role of civil society. A drafting
committee convened to begin deliberations on various draft
decisions, and contact groups met on the budget and chemicals.
WSSD OUTCOMES, POLICY ISSUES, AND LINKAGES:
Governing Council President Ruhakana Rugunda indicated that the
agenda items on WSSD outcomes, policy issues, and linkages among
MEAs would be taken-up together. He asked delegates to focus first
on chemicals-related outcomes from the WSSD and on trade and
environment issues raised by the Doha Ministerial Declaration.
Chemicals and Trade Issues: Jim Willis,
Director of UNEPís Chemicals Programme, reported on its work (UNEP/GC.22/10/
Add.1) and highlighted the focus on issues emphasized at the WSSD.
Drawing attention to the chemicals-related draft decisions before
the Governing Council (UNEP/GC.22/L.1), he noted that some
delegations Ė including the EU, Norway, Switzerland, and US Ė had
submitted alternative texts.
Hussein Abaza, Chief of UNEPís Trade Programme,
reflected on UNEPís work in this area and on key issues emerging
from the WSSD and the fourth Ministerial Conference of the World
Trade Organization, held at Doha in November 2001 (UNEP/GC.22/10/
Many delegates congratulated UNEPís Chemicals
Programme on its efficiency and the high standard of its work.
SWITZERLAND, NEW ZEALAND, and CANADA supported giving the Programme
a higher funding priority.
On the global mercury assessment, the EU and
NORWAY supported a legally-binding instrument, while CANADA,
COLOMBIA, the CZECH REPUBLIC, and MEXICO opposed this.
On trade issues, many Parties supported UNEP
having observer status at relevant WTO meetings. The US, AUSTRALIA
and others opposed a proposal that UNEP host bi-annual meetings of
environment and trade ministers, while EGYPT felt the idea had some
merit. The US said capacity building was the best entry point for
UNEPís work on trade issues.
On the proposal for an Intergovernmental Panel on
Global Environmental Change (IPEC), ETHIOPIA said it could improve
efficiency, while JAPAN and MAURITIUS noted their objections to the
Water Issues: In the afternoon, President
Rugunda invited delegates to consider implementation of WSSD
outcomes in relation to water policy and strategy (UNEP/GC.22/2/Add.3).
UNEP Executive Director Klaus TŲpfer drew attention to the
Millennium Development Goals, adding that 2003 has been declared the
International Year of Freshwater, and that the third World Water
Forum will be held in March. Delegates were then briefed by UNEP
representatives Salif Diop and Veerle Vandeweerd on UNEPís response
to the WSSDís outcomes relating to freshwater, water supply and
sanitation, coastal zones and oceans, and small island developing
In the subsequent discussion, many speakers
highlighted the importance of commitments made at the WSSD on water
issues. Reflecting on UNEPís water-related activities, MONGOLIA and
others expressed support for UNEPís work, and the EU and NEW ZEALAND
encouraged strengthening its freshwater efforts. SWITZERLAND,
BELGIUM, and the EU endorsed an ecosystem approach, while TURKEY
questioned its appropriateness for water management. CANADA
supported strengthening implementation of the Global Environment
Monitoring Systemís water quality programme.
On other water-related issues, the HOLY SEE said
patterns of consumption among the wealthy should be reviewed, and
the CZECH REPUBLIC highlighted the problem of flood prevention and
control. TURKEY said UNEPís work on dams should be "more balanced"
than that of the World Commission on Dams. SPAIN drew attention to
the London Convention on Marine Pollution and VENEZUELA underscored
the need to view water as a public good. The RAMSAR CONVENTION noted
its development of guidelines for integrated coastal zone management
and for water management in maintaining wetlands.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
WORK PROGRAMME AND ADMINISTRATIVE AND BUDGETARY
MATTERS: Deputy Executive Director Shafqat Kakakhel presented
the major elements of the proposed UNEP budget for 2004-2005 (UNEP/GC.22/6,
UNEP/GC.22/6/Add.1 & UNEP/GC.22/7), noting a net increase of US$41.6
million from the 2002-2003 budget. He outlined UNEPís proposed
Programme of Work, highlighting seven key areas: assessment and
early warning; environmental policy development and law;
environmental policy implementation; technology, industry and
economics; regional cooperation and representation; environmental
conventions; and communications and public information (UNEP/GC.22/6).
In the ensuing discussions, Kakakhel agreed with
delegatesí comments on the need to focus on regional implementation.
Replying to statements about the priority given by UNEP to WEHAB, he
emphasized that WEHAB does not divert funds from UNEPís activities
and agreed on the importance of managing its resources efficiently,
noting the mechanisms in place to ensure efficiency.
POLICY ISSUES: State of the Environment:
Kakakhel outlined policy issues relating to support to Africa,
stating that WSSD decisions on regional implementation and the
emergence of initiatives such as NEPAD have laid the foundation for
UNEP to take greater steps in this area. He then reviewed policy
issues concerning the global assessment of the state of the marine
environment (UNEP/GC/22/2/Add.5). Referring to the relevant decision
of the 21st Governing Council (UNEP/GC/21/13), which launched UNEPís
process of marine assessment, he explained that the current draft
decision outlines UNEPís follow-up activities. He also reviewed the
draft decision on post-conflict environmental assessments (UNEP/GC/22/2/Add.7).
In the ensuring discussion, SYRIA expressed
concerns regarding the environmental situation in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories. INDIA, PAKISTAN and INDONESIA questioned
the appropriateness of discussions on the Asian Brown Cloud issue,
and the US argued against UNEP playing a role in climate change and
coral reef initiatives.
Emerging Policy Issues: Kakakhel then
introduced draft decisions relating to: the implementation of the
outcome of the Global Judges Symposium to promote capacity building
among judiciaries; the application of Rio Principle 10 on access to
information and legal redress; the legal dimension of sustainable
patterns of production and consumption and environmentally and
socially responsible behavior; and the status of environment-related
conventions and protocols (UNEP/GC/22/3/Add.2).
Role of Civil Society: Kakakhel reviewed
draft decisions regarding the engagement and involvement of youth in
environmental issues (UNEP/GC/22/3/Add.1) and UNEPís strategy for
sport and the environment (UNEP/GC/22/3/Add.3). He also presented
UNEPís policy responses on: enhancing civil society engagement in
the work of UNEP; strengthening the engagement of business and
industry; and UNEPís participation in the work of the GEF. The US,
supported by others, urged that no action be taken on civil
societyís role until the UN Secretary-Generalís report is completed,
and argued that guidelines on civil society participation be based
on those used by ECOSOC. Several delegations acknowledged the role
of the private sector and the need for partnerships to achieve
Kakakhel also reviewed documentation on UNEPís
cooperation with UN-HABITAT and a draft decision on environmental
emergency prevention, preparedness, assessment, response and
On Tuesday morning, Chair Juergen Weerth opened
the Drafting Committeeís first session, and introduced draft
decisions submitted by the CPR (UNEP/GC.22/L.1). The Committee
approved decisions addressing the restructured GEF and the revision
of financial rules of the Environment Fund, while a draft decision
on the loan from the Environment Fund financial reserve was
finalized with minor changes. Draft decisions on long-term
strategies for the involvement of young people in environmental
issues and for sport and the environment were supported following
the inclusion of several minor amendments.
The draft decision on the management of trust
funds was approved with the incorporation of a request that the
Executive Director propose to the Governing Council at its 23rd
session that it reduce the number of trust funds, in order to
improve UNEPís efficiency. The draft decision on sustainable
development of the Arctic was also approved.
Regarding the draft decision on the World
Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC), a developed country,
supported by some developing countries, expressed concern that
expanding the Centerís mandate to include policy development would
conflict with its current role as a non-biased body. Consideration
of the draft was deferred.
Draft decisions on post-conflict environmental
assessments and on environment and cultural diversity provoked
protracted debate, with both decisions remaining unresolved.
The draft decision on the follow-up to the
General Assembly Resolution 57/251 on the Report of GCSS-7 revealed
strongly held opposing positions, in particular on the process of
consultation on universal membership of the Council, the indicative
scale of contributions to the Environment Fund and funding from the
UN regular budget. The text underwent heavy editing and will be
taken up again.
BUDGET CONTACT GROUP
Contact Group Chair John Ashe (Antigua and
Barbuda) invited questions on the Executive Directorís report on the
Environment Fund budgets and the proposed biennial programme and
support budget for 2004-2005 (UNEP/GC.22/6). Replying to several
developed countries, a UNON representative clarified issues
pertaining to: the expected income of UNEP in 2004-2005; the
authority of the Executive Director to reallocate resources between
programmes; the financial reserve; and the carry-over of resources.
Several delegates raised concerns that decisions from parallel
meetings would impact on budgetary matters.
On the thematic focus of UNEPÔŅĹs Programme of
Work, a developed country proposed numerous deletions relating to
UNEPÔŅĹs role in promoting MEA ratification, trade and environment,
access and benefit sharing regimes in relation to biodiversity, and
the policy integration of the WEHAB agenda, arguing that the
proposals were outside UNEPÔŅĹs mandate.
CHEMICALS CONTACT GROUP
In the Chemicals Contact Group, chaired by
Halldor Thorgeirsson (Iceland), developed countries emphasized the
need for openness and transparency in the strategic approach to
international chemicals management, suggesting that key
recommendations be drawn from GCSS-7/GMEF-3 and the WSSD outcomes,
the Bahia Declaration, and the Steering Committee on the Strategic
Approach. Delegates stressed the need for clarity and avoiding
duplication of other work in formulating a mercury programme.
IN THE CORRIDORS
According to observers, some delegates "began
playing hardball" on Tuesday. As substantive negotiations started in
the Drafting Committee, participants noticed strong positions
emerging as delegates reopened debates on several draft decisions
previously approved by the Committee of Permanent Representatives.
While at least one diplomat felt the Council may have "bitten off
more than it can chew" with its heavy agenda, others were not so
sure, noting that at least positions were now becoming clear on
potentially thorny issues such as the environment and cultural
diversity, and the indicative scale of contributions. Several added
that the tough positions taken by negotiators on Tuesday were
probably due to an unwillingness to give too much away prior to the
arrival of their ministers on Wednesday. They predicted that the
situation could well become more settled and "consensus-friendly" as
the week progresses.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
MINISTERIAL CONSULTATIONS: The high-level
ministerial segment of the meeting begins at 9:00 am in Conference
Room 2. The segment will consist of consultations on the
implementation of the WSSDÔŅĹs outcomes. In the morning, discussions
will focus on sustainable production and consumption, while in the
afternoon talks are expected to turn to environment-poverty linkages
and UNEPÔŅĹs contribution to the WSSDÔŅĹs biodiversity-related
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: The COW will convene
at 3:00 pm in Conference Room 2. It is expected to resume its
consideration of policy issues and the role of civil society.
DRAFTING COMMITTEE: The drafting group is
expected to convene at 10:00 am in Room R310 to continue its work on
the remaining draft decisions.
CONTACT GROUP ON THE BUDGET: The contact
group will reconvene at 11:00 am in Conference Room 7 to begin
negotiating the draft decision on the Environment Fund budgets, the
proposed biennial programme, and the support budget for 2004-2005.
Extensive discussions are expected on the programmeÔŅĹs thematic focus
and the subprogramme narratives.
CONTACT GROUP ON CHEMICALS: Delegates will
convene at 10:00 am in Room C224, and are expected to consider the
global mercury assessment, plans for immediate action at the
national level, directions to UNEP on how to proceed, and