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bringing you the latest news, information and analysis from
international environment and sustainable development negotiations





This page was updated on: 01/13/10




Intergovernmental Organization Media Reports Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2006; 2005; 2004; 2002




The Global Environment Facility Council has approved $224 million in grants for 19 developing-country projects that focus on biological diversity, biosafety, climate change and international waters. The projects, which will be managed by the GEF's three implementing agencies – UN Development Programme, the UN Environment Programme and the World Bank, will be co-financed by an additional $612.9 million from other sources, including governments of the participating countries.


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UN Press Release, 25 November 2003




After a 19-year absence from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United States has rejoined the UN organization. Citing ineffective management and an "anti-Western" bias, then President Ronald Reagan withdrew from the organization in 1984. The decision to rejoin UNESCO was announced by President Bush last September, and the US flag was hoisted on 1 October 2003, joining those of the other 189 member States, at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, with first lady, Laura Bush representing the US at the organization's biannual general conference. The return of the US is anticipated to boost the organization's two-year budget from $544 million to $610 million.


"This is a good day for UNESCO," UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura stated. "A new nation is joining forces with us, bringing with it vast intellectual and cultural resources, along with partnership and good will."


UNESCO was founded in 1946, with the purpose of contributing "to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations."


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Planet Ark news story, 1 October 2003




The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has opened an office in Beijing, China. Created in response to decisions taken by UNEP's Governing Council to strengthen the agency's delivery of regional-level programmes, the office will collaborate with China's State Environmental Protection Administration and other ministries, and international and non-governmental organizations in implementing programmes in environmental assessment, law, education and training, management, technology transfer and innovation and natural disaster prevention. The new UNEP office will also develop and support projects under the Global Environment Facility.


"With 1.3 billion people and an official goal to quadruple economic growth by 2020, China's environmental performance will not only determine the well being of its own people but will have consequences for the whole planet," said Klaus Töpfer, UNEP's Executive Director, at the opening ceremony of the new UNEP office. Töpfer further added that China has a "historic opportunity to leapfrog traditional polluting technologies and adopt sustainable production and consumption policies."


UNEP's presence in East Asia was further enhanced by a recent agreement by Japan to allow UNEP to establish a regional coordination office in the city of Toyoma. Part of an effort to promote the Northwest Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP) – an agreement made in 1994 between China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to preserve the marine environment in Northeast Asia – the office will be joined by another regional bureau to be set up in Pusan, South Korea. The establishment of the two offices was outlined during the NOWPAP's Sixth Intergovernmental Meeting held in December 2000.


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UN Wire, 16 September 2003

Environment News Service, 19 September 2003


JULY 2003


The Global Environment Facility's small grants budget is projected to double from $30 million in 2003 to over $60 million in 2005, according to a GEF business plan FOR 2004-2006 recently approved at the GEF Council meeting in May. This increase in funding will augment the number of countries participating in the GEF's Small Grants Programme, which offer recipients up to $50,000 in grant money, and enable more NGOs and community-based organizations to undertake projects that benefit both the global environment and local communities in developing countries.


"GEF's Small Grants Programme has made a huge difference in the well-being and environmental health in thousands of local communities," said GEF's CEO and Chairman, Mohamed T. El-Ashry. "Though the programme's grants are small compared with the needs of our global environment, their impact is large – and GEF is working closely with its partners to make the program's impact even larger in the coming years."


The GEF has committed over US$100 million since 1992 towards small grants that involve NGOs and community groups in developing countries in addressing global environmental problems in local communities. The GEF's Small Grants Programme is administered by UNDP on behalf of the GEF.


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World Bank press release, 1 July 2003

APRIL 2003



The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced that Lebanon will host this year's World Environment Day, the first Arab nation to do so in the event's 30-year history. "We are very honored to have been chosen as this year's World Environment Day host," said Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. "I hope that by hosting this special day, Lebanon can build on …our quest for a healthier, cleaner and more equitable nation that can act as a beacon in the region and the world."


In recognition of the International Year of Freshwater, the theme of this year's World Environment Day will be: Water – Two Billion People are Dying for It! World Environment Day celebrations will take place in Beirut and around Lebanon on 5 June 2003 under the aegis of the Lebanese Ministry of Environment. During the event, UNEP's Global 500 Awards will also be presented. These awards are made to individuals and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the protection and conservation of the environment. 


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UNEP Press Release, 30 April 2003

World Environment Day homepage



The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is calling for an international field study to assess alleged depleted uranium (DU) sites in Iraq.


"Given the overall environmental concerns during the conflict, and the fact that the environment of Iraq was already a cause for serious concern prior to the current war, UNEP believes early field studies should be carried out," said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer. "This is especially important to protect human health in a post-conflict situation." Any assessment would focus on the extent to which DU on the ground can filter through the soil and eventually contaminate groundwater, and the possibility that DU dust could later be re-suspended in the air by wind or human activity, with the risk that it could be breathed in. "…Depleted uranium is still an issue of great concern for the general public, and an early study in Iraq could either lay these fears to rest or confirm that there are indeed potential risks, which could then be addressed through immediate action," he added.


UNEP, through its Post-Conflict Assessment Unit, has conducted such assessments in the past, particularly in Kosovo in 2001, Serbia and Montenegro in 2002 and, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2003. A report recently released by UNEP confirms for the first time that depleted uranium from weapons used in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994 and 1995 has contaminated local supplies of drinking water at one site, and can still be found in dust particles suspended in the air.


In addition to its work in the Balkans, UNEP has recently published post-conflict assessments on Afghanistan and the Palestinian Territories. In April, UNEP will publish a desk study on the Iraq environment that will provide the necessary background information for conducting field research. This research will examine risks to groundwater, surface water, drinking water sources, waste-management and other environment-related infrastructure, factories and other potential sources of toxic chemicals, and biodiversity.


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UNEP Press Release, 6 April 2003

UNEP Post-Conflict Assessment Unit


MARCH 2003


The World Bank recently approved the implementation of a project financed with a US$14.8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to ensure biodiversity conservation in Peru. The Participatory Management of Protected Areas project aims to involve civil society and the private sector to manage up to six biodiversity-rich protected areas in Peru. "Peru is one of the world's great centers of biodiversity," said Pierre Werbrouck, a World Bank project manager. "This project offers local communities a way of participating directly in the conservation of a global treasure." In addition to World Bank and GEF funding, the project is also being financed by contributions of $2.5 million from Finland, $6.6 million from Germany and $4.4 million from the Netherlands.


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World Bank press release, 18 March 2003



The first Africa Environment Day was held on 3 March 2003 throughout the continent. Africa Environment Day, which was established by the African Union (AU) at the Durban Summit last July, is intended to examine ways of protecting the environment and promoting the exchange of information between African countries on environmental issues. African governments organized conferences, roundtable discussions and workshops to mark the occasion. Governments also agreed to focus on anti-desertification and anti-drought programmes, especially through a ban on the over-exploitation of natural resources on the continent. Africa Environment Day was created to compliment World Environment Day, which is commemorated each year on 5 June. The main international celebrations of this year's World Environment Day will be held in the Shenzhen, China.


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UNEP Press release, 3 March 2003

UNEP and World Environment Day




The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed several agreements with Libya to help finance agricultural projects in Africa. The agreements, totaling more than US$21 million, will be used to enhance agricultural production and enhance food security in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Sudan and Niger. Libya will contribute US$9.3 million to the project. In addition, Libya signed on to an agreement on the Development of a Seed and Propagation Material System, which is designed to develop and modernize the country's agricultural sector. Mohamed Al-Madani Al-Azhari, Secretary General of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) and the Director of the Seeds Centre signed the agreements in Tripoli on behalf of the Libyan government. Henri Carsalade, FAO's Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation, signed for the FAO in Rome.

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FAO press release, 20 February 2003

FAO Technical Cooperation Department homepage


A new international environmental treaty that will assess countries' environmental draft plans, programmes, policies and legislation has been finalized. Under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was concluded after two years of negotiations by European, North American and Central Asian countries.

The aim of the Protocol is to provide extensive public participation in government decision-making in numerous development sectors, including land-use planning, transport, agriculture and industry. Under the Protocol, the public will not only have the right to know about plans and programmes, but also the right to comment on environmental decisions. Such participation of the public in strategic decision-making builds on the practice of the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context and the UNECE Ǻarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.

The SEA Protocol is expected to be formally adopted and signed at the upcoming Ministerial 'Environment for Europe Conference' in Kiev, Ukraine, scheduled for 21-23 May 2003. Although negotiated under the UNECE, the Protocol will be open to all members of the United Nations.


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UNECE press release, 7 February 2003

Draft UNECE Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment

UNECE "Environment for Europe" Process



The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged a US$1.9 million funding package to support the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). The contribution is part of a broader $3.5 million project expected to draw funding from additional international partners.


The NEPAD agenda, a programme of the recently formed African Union (the successor of the Organization of African Unity – OAU), is aimed at promoting sustainable development and economic growth on the African continent. In addition to providing institutional support to the NEPAD Secretariat, the UNDP funding will help: promote political governance and democracy in Africa; create a Technical Support Facility to allow NEPAD to mobilize expertise from a variety of disciplines; establish a NEPAD Advisory Panel; translate the concept of the "new partnership" into development cooperation policies, principles and practices that ensure African ownership; and promote in African countries NEPAD objectives in tandem with the Millennium Development Goals.


"We know that NEPAD has enormous potential, and UNDP, through its Regional Bureau for Africa, is demonstrating our commitment to seeing the initiative succeed," said Abdoulie Janneh, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa. "The assistance we are providing will help give NEPAD's Secretariat and management organs the wherewithal to take concrete and progressive steps that will advance NEPAD and allow it to increase its reach across the continent."


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UNDP press release, 13 February 2003

NEPAD homepage



The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has requested US$15million in aid to help more than a half a million households in southern Africa that are facing a severe food and health crisis. The appeal follows several FAO humanitarian assistance assessment missions to southern Africa in December 2002 and January 2003.


"This emergency is unlike any other humanitarian crisis," said Anne Bauer, Director for FAO's Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division. "The causes are complex and merit a sustained and comprehensive package of relief and recovery efforts that focus on the most vulnerable groups." According to FAO, the southern Africa food crisis is the result of drought, chronic poverty, land degradation and HIV/AIDS.


Primary assistance will be given for projects in southern Africa that aim to improve skills and increase the supply of agricultural inputs, such as seeds, hand-tools and fertilizer, while promoting crop diversity, labor-saving technologies and resistance to drought. The projects will also replenish small livestock and improve nutrition. "This comprehensive package of relief and recovery efforts will improve the self-reliance of agricultural families and reduce their vulnerability and dependence on food aid," Bauer said.


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FAO press release, 17 February 2003



The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), based in Rome, Italy, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and IFAD President Lennart Båge will jointly inaugurate IFAD's Governing Council meeting, to be held from 19-20 February 2003. Ministers of finance and agriculture and other senior officials from IFAD's 162 member states, as well as representatives of the United Nations, international organizations, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations, will also attend the meeting.


Through its work in the world's most disadvantaged areas, IFAD helps to achieve two Millennium Development Goal targets – the promise to halve the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger. However, IFAD's president warns that without more global action and investment on behalf of the poor throughout the developing world, none of the Goals are likely to be achieved by their 2015 target date.


"Agriculture is how most poor rural people make their living and the real engine of economic growth in most developing countries," IFAD President Båge said in a recent press release. "Yet, global investment in agriculture and the rural sector has fallen sharply – by almost 50% in the decade between 1988 and 1999. Clearly, increasing our investment in agriculture and rural development is absolutely essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals."


IFAD has been fighting hunger and poverty in rural areas since 1978 and is the only UN agency that focuses exclusively on the rural poor. Its approach involves designing, implementing and financing, with low-interest loans and grants, projects and programmes that meet the specific needs of poor communities. Since it began, IFAD has invested US$7.7 billion in 628 rural development projects in 115 countries and territories.


"Our efforts to fight poverty in rural areas are crucial to world security," Båge added. "Debilitating poverty and hunger are sources of disease, civil strife and instability. The consequences of poverty are not limited by national boundaries, but present growing risks throughout the world. Poverty can only be reduced by ensuring that all people have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Only when this happens can there be a solid foundation for peace, stability and sustainable economic growth."


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IFAD Homepage

IFAD press release, 13 February 2003





In a formal ceremony held at UN Headquarters in New York on 16 January 2003, Morocco formally took over the Chair of the Group of 77 (G-77) and China. Thanking Venezuela for leading the Group in 2002, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Benaissa said that his country would spare no efforts in representing the collective interests of the Group in 2003, particularly in addressing globalization. "The greatest challenge which confronts our Group lays in the adaptation to globalization," Foreign Minister Benaissa said in a speech. "It is high time to remedy dysfunctions of the global economy and imbalances of international structures in the fields of finance, trade, technology and investment so that globalization could be beneficial to all."


Attending the handover ceremony, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan congratulated Morocco on its new appointment, but stressed the difficult challenges that lay ahead, including the need to address human rights of immigrants and trade-related intellectual property rights. "Morocco assumes this responsibility at a challenging time," Annan stated. "This requires the political leaders from both the developing and developed countries to strengthen cooperation."


The G-77 was established on 15 June 1964 by 77 developing countries at the end of the first session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva. Today, the Group numbers 133 nations, making it one of the largest coalitions in the UN. Rotating the Chair on a yearly and regional basis, the G-77 provides the means for developing countries to promote its collective economic interests and enhance its joint negotiating capacity on major international issues.


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G-77 press release, 16 January 2003

Statement by UN Secretary-General, 16 January 2003

Statement by Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, 16 January 2003


Honey Care Africa, a small, socially responsible Kenyan honey producer, has won the prestigious $30,000 Equator Prize. The award, sponsored by UNDP in partnership with the Government of Canada, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, the Nature Conservancy and others, honors community projects that represent outstanding efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Honey Care's business model, which has helped double the incomes of some of Kenya's poorest people, enables local farmers to become beekeepers via a small-scale financing programme. "Our company has a very simple vision," says the company's general-manager Farouk Jiwa. "It's about people, the planet and profits. We believe they can all co-exist and not be mutually exclusive." As a recipient of the Equator Prize, Honey Care will be involved in a 2003 campaign to improve community-based knowledge, as well as help transfer its successful environmentally-friendly business practices at the national and international level.


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The Equator Initiative

World Bank press release, 8 January 2003



Marking UNEP's 30th anniversary, UNEP Executive Director Klaus Töpfer said in an end of the year editorial that 2003 was a defining moment in the long march towards a more environmentally-sound, sustainable and healthier world. "I believe we have, as a result of the negotiations and agreements that have marked 2002 and culminating in the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), witnessed some real stirrings of intent, some clear routes of progress, that can transform the fine words of previous years and decades into real and genuine action," Töpfer said. He also added that the Plan of Implementation agreed at the WSSD has targets and timetables on issues such as fisheries, wildlife, sanitation and drinking water. Looking ahead to the future, Töpfer said that UNEP has every intention of living up to new and increasing responsibilities, "not only in this 30th year of UNEP's birth, but in the months, years and decades to come." Kicking off what is expected to be a busy year for the international environment organization, the 22nd Session of the UNEP Governing Council and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum will be held at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from 3-7 February (see ENB's upcoming coverage at


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UNEP Executive Director's End of Year Editorial, December 2002

UNEP Governing Council meeting


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