Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 16 No. 29
Friday, 7 February 2003
UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS
THURSDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2003
The high-level ministerial segment continued
throughout the day, with delegates focusing on sustainable
consumption and production patterns, and on using the natural
resource base to combat poverty. The Committee of the Whole (COW)
met in the afternoon to consider a number of new draft decisions
proposed by countries. The Drafting Committee continued its
deliberations on various draft decisions in morning, afternoon, and
evening sessions, and contact groups met on the budget, chemicals,
adaptation to climate change, and the proposal for an
Intergovernmental Panel on Global Environmental Change (IPEC).
SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION: David
Anderson, Canada’s Minister for the Environment, chaired this
session and introduced a background paper on the issue (UNEP/GC.22/8/Add.2).
Noting that current consumption and production trends are
unsustainable, he asked delegates to: identify appropriate policies
and pricing structures; consider how to stimulate the development of
appropriate new technologies; examine how changes in consumption and
production patterns contribute to poverty eradication; and provide
guidance on UNEP’s role in this area.
Delegates identified a range of legal and
economic policies and instruments. CHINA highlighted the phase-out
of outdated technologies and use of environmental auditing, and the
US, COLOMBIA, and SWITZERLAND supported tax-based or other market
incentives for business and industry. The UK and AUSTRALIA supported
eliminating harmful subsidies. POLAND underscored the benefits of
consumer awareness and several speakers referred to eco-labeling.
NORWAY said developed countries should provide assistance to
developing countries to "leapfrog" to more sustainable technologies.
On UNEP’s role, NORWAY said UNEP must take a lead
in developing the WSSD’s ten-year framework of programmes on
sustainable consumption and production in consultation with other
organizations and agencies. The UK said CSD should review regional
and national progress against baselines based on WSSD outcomes, and
could work with UNEP to identify the resources and follow-up
required. Speakers also highlighted the need for improved indicators
and information, training, capacity building, collaboration,
partnerships, and financial assistance.
USING THE NATURAL RESOURCE BASE TO FIGHT POVERTY:
In the afternoon, Governing Council President Rugunda introduced
the session on using the natural resource base to fight poverty and
on UNEP’s contribution to the WSSD’s biodiversity-related
commitments (UNEP/GC.22/8/Add.3). Delegates considered: how to
utilize fully the natural resource base in fighting poverty; how
existing regional programmes could enhance UNEP’s new guidelines on
poverty and the environment; what role UNEP can play in developing
national, subregional and regional plans for poverty eradication
incorporating WSSD and other goals; and how UNEP can use the WEHAB
agenda in promoting sustainable livelihoods.
Many speakers underscored linkages between
poverty and biodiversity, and endorsed the WSSD’s outcomes. Several
delegates noted the importance of involving business and industry,
NGOs, local and indigenous communities and other stakeholders.
MEXICO and others stressed the need to share genetic resources
equitably. SWITZERLAND supported awareness raising and conservation
activities, and MOZAMBIQUE linked the work of the CBD, CCD and other
environmental conventions to efforts aimed at alleviating poverty in
On UNEP’s role, BELIZE said it should help
developing countries retain benefits from their genetic resources.
The UK said UNEP needs a much closer relationship with UNDP and CSD
to deliver the WSSD’s outcomes, and DENMARK said the WEHAB
initiative must be translated into action. Speakers also drew
attention to UNEP’s activities relating to land use, water
resources, energy, forestry, and natural resource management.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
The COW convened in the afternoon to discuss
newly-tabled draft decisions on: reconfirmation of UNEP’s support
for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; action on poverty
and the environment in Africa; support for regional implementation
of UNEP’s Programme of Work; support to SIDS; work on
forestry-related issues; and UNEP’s role in strengthening regional
activities in the Economic Cooperation Organization subregion (UNEP/
GC.22/CW/CRP.1, 3, 4 & 6 and UNEP/GC.22/CRP.4 & 7). These decisions
were approved with minor amendments, with the exception of the draft
on the Economic Cooperation Organization, in which provisions that
could imply the need to establish a new UNEP regional office were
deleted. A draft decision on regional implementation of the WSSD (UNEP/GC.22/CW/CRP.2)
was withdrawn due to overlaps with the draft decision on regional
implementation of UNEP’s Programme of Work (UNEP/GC.22/ CW/CRP.4).
Other draft decisions on marine safety and
protection of the marine environment from accidental pollution and
on sustainable consumption and production patterns (UNEP/GC.22/CRP.9
and 10.Rev.1) will be discussed on Friday morning in the COW.
The Drafting Committee continued addressing the
draft decisions from the CPR (UNEP/GC.22/L.1) and new drafts issued
The draft decision on support to Africa was
finalized after compromise wording was agreed on the proposed
amendments, including a provision dealing with assisting African
countries in their preparations for MEA conferences. The new text on
coral reefs that emerged from discussions in a contact group was
approved, with a minor amendment.
On governance, the Committee supported an
addition to the draft, suggested by a developed country, concerning
a strategic plan for technology support and capacity building.
Delegates also agreed to streamline the procedure for submitting
comments to UNEP on the issue of universal membership of the
Governing Council, so as to avoid duplication of the General
The Committee considered a revised draft on
engaging business and industry, prepared during consultations
between one developed country and a developed country group. The
Committee provisionally supported the text with a minor addition and
pending resolution of one technical matter.
The text on the Global Judges Symposium underwent
some changes to reflect a stronger focus on capacity building in the
area of international law, and to respond to several developing
countries’ objections to highlighting the need to implement the
There was protracted debate on the exact language
regarding the pilot phase of the indicative scale of contributions
to the Environment Fund, and on additional funding for UNEP from the
UN regular budget.
Text that emerged from the contact group on
adaptation to climate change was reopened in the Committee, with
several delegations insisting on referencing specific paragraphs of
the Marrakesh Accords and the Kyoto Protocol. However, these and
other objections were removed after further discussions in the
contact group resulted in consensus language.
The draft decision on environment and cultural
diversity, introduced by a regional group of countries with the
support of another regional group, produced a response from a
developed country, which argued for a shorter decision requesting
the Executive Director to examine the issue further and report to
the Governing Council at its 23rd session.
As of late Thursday evening, negotiations in the
Committee were continuing, with more than a dozen draft decisions
still to be approved.
BUDGET CONTACT GROUP
The budget group reconvened on Thursday morning
to continue deliberations on the draft decision. The group agreed to
a proposal requesting the Executive Director to prepare a breakdown
of the regional allocation to UNEP’s Divisions. After lengthy
deliberations, text addressing increased funding for UNEP’s
Chemicals branch was approved with a minor amendment and transmitted
to the chemicals contact group for inclusion in its decision. The
text dealing with the provision of financing for SIDS, in particular
preparations for the Barbados Programme of Action +10 Conference in
2004, was approved and transmitted to the COW for inclusion in the
SIDS decision (UNEP/GC.22/CW/CRP.6). The group agreed to a developed
country’s proposal requesting the Executive Director to ensure that
all Fund programme activities, as decided by the Governing Council,
are provided with resources from the Environment Fund.
In the afternoon and evening, delegates engaged
in informal multilateral and bilateral negotiations in an effort to
reach agreement on text approving the Programme of Work and
appropriations for the Environment Fund. However, as of late
Thursday evening, delegates had been unable to reach consensus on
this final outstanding part of the budget decision.
CHEMICALS CONTACT GROUP
The chemicals contact group finalized draft
decisions on lead, the global mercury assessment, the Strategic
Approach on International Chemicals Management (SAICM) and the
Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions. The SAICM, lead, and global
mercury assessment draft decisions were approved after the insertion
of text requesting additional funding for implementation from the
Executive Director. In the SAICM decision, references to heavy
metals and a regular review of the WSSD’s chemicals-related targets
Regarding the text on mercury, the group agreed
on an annex to the decision to guide immediate action, in light of
recommendations of the global mercury assessment (UNEP/GC.22/INF/3).
Following objections by some developed countries on the use of the
term "Mercury Programme," the group agreed to use the phrase "action
on mercury." Delegates drafted text requiring the submission of
governments’ views on medium- and long-term actions on mercury.
These will be compiled and synthesized by the Executive Director for
presentation at the Governing Council’s 23rd session, with a view to
developing a legally binding instrument, a non-legally binding
instrument, or some other measure or series of actions. The final
text agreed by the group also included requirements to consider
further action on other heavy metals at the Governing Council’s 23rd
IPEC CONTACT GROUP
The group considered options for strengthening
the scientific base of UNEP and the practicalities of establishing
an IPEC. Discussions focused on whether an IPEC is needed, with some
developed and developing countries expressing concerns regarding
costs implications, duplication with the work of existing bodies,
and uncertainty regarding the role of any body or actions that would
be established. Delegates agreed on the need to strengthen UNEPï¿½s
capacity and the links between science and policy-making, but found
that further consultation was needed to determine the modalities for
addressing the problem.
The final agreed text recalls Decision GCSS VII/1
on international environmental governance and capacity building and
invites submissions to the Executive Director focusing on gaps and
types of assessments, on how UNEP and other organizations are
currently meeting their assessment needs, and on the options that
exist for meeting any unfulfilled needs that fall within UNEPï¿½s role
and mandate. The decision also solicits views addressing, inter
alia, scientific credibility, the interaction between science
and policy development, the role of existing institutions, and
duplication. The Executive Director is to prepare a synthesis report
on the consultations by the Governing Council for its Eighth Special
IN THE CORRIDORS
Many delegates were reflecting on patchy progress
following what one delegate described as "long and grueling"
negotiations on Thursday. The chemicals contact group wrapped up its
work, with most participants professing satisfaction with the
compromise on mercury, which effectively leaves the door open on
whether or not to have a legally-binding instrument. Meanwhile, the
Drafting Committee was still meeting late on Thursday night, with
several participants anxious at the number of draft decisions
outstanding, and some observers already predicting that the
Governing Council would not finish its work by Friday afternoon, as
had originally been scheduled.
Meanwhile, some participants in the ministerial
discussions were questioning the format and approach taken. While a
number of delegates found the discussions useful, some were asking
whether the segments could have been more focused, or whether they
should be occurring in parallel with the other negotiations.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
MINISTERIAL CONSULTATIONS/CLOSING PLENARY:
The high-level ministerial segment of the meeting reconvenes at
10:00 am in Conference Room 1. Delegates will hear the Presidentï¿½s
report on the outcome of ministerial discussions, and will consider
the agenda, date and location for the Governing Councilï¿½s eighth
Special Session and 23rd regular Session. The closing Plenary to
adopt the sessionï¿½s decisions and the report of the meeting is
scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm. It may be delayed if negotiations are
not concluded on all outstanding decisions.
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE: The COW will
reconvene at 9:00 am in Conference Room 2 to conclude its work.
BUDGET CONTACT GROUP: The budget group is
expected to reconvene in the morning to continue negotiations on the
approval of the Programme of Work and appropriations for the
Environment Fund. Check the Journal for details.
SUMMARY REPORT FROM THIS MEETING:
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin report containing a
comprehensive summary and analysis of this meeting will be available
online from Monday morning, 10 February, at: