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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; 2003; 2002





Jamaica has been elected to Chair the Group of 77 and China next year. Jamaica's Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister K. D. Knight said his country's assumption of the group's leadership comes at a critical time in the international system "given the impact of globalization and liberalization" and called for "a more equitable and inclusive international environment," where developing countries can benefit from those processes. Jamaica's assumption of the group's leadership also comes at a critical year in the international arena, as 2005 will witness the comprehensive review of progress made towards achieving major international development agreements, including the Millennium Declaration, which world leaders signed onto at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. The year 2005 will also convene the International Meeting on the review of the international plan of action on the sustainable development of small island developing States (SIDS), of which Jamaica is an active participant.


The G-77, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, was established in 1964 by 77 developing countries signatories of the "Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries" issued at the conclusion of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held in Geneva. Jamaica will assume the Group's Chairmanship in January 2005, replacing current Chair Qatar. Jamaica's election breaks the chain of oil producing countries that have since 2000 chaired the Group.


Links to further information

RadioJamaica, 30 September 2004



The European Commission and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a view to reinforce cooperation, increase effectiveness of their environmental activities and strengthen international environmental governance. The MoU provides a framework for collaboration, including through regular meetings at senior and expert levels, strategic policy dialogues and financial cooperation. The EC has further decided to post a senior official to its delegation at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi to better follow UNEP's day-to-day activities. Under the agreement, the Commission will first focus on supporting ongoing cooperation activities, including in the areas of sustainable production and consumption, capacity building, water, sanitation and sustainable energy access, and implementation of multilateral environment agreements. The work on MEAs will initially focus on the Convention on Biological Diversity and regional seas agreements.


The EC has also recently signed a strategic partnership with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aimed at strengthening and further consolidating their joint efforts towards alleviating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Involving regular policy dialogue at headquarters level and enhanced collaboration, particularly at country level, the partnership will initially focus on collaboration in five areas: food security; sustainable rural development and agricultural policies; food safety and quality; natural resources management; and statistical cooperation and information exchange.


The EC also recently approved funding amounting to €76 million for 109 environmental innovation projects under the LIFE Environment programme and another €76 million for 77 nature conservation projects under the LIFE Nature programme. The former programme funds projects that employ cutting-edge technologies in tackling environmental problems, while the latter seeks to expand the EU-wide Natura 2000 network of areas protecting critical wildlife habitats and threatened species. Both LIFE Environment and LIFE Nature are part of the LIFE programme, which was established in 1992 as the EU's financial instrument supporting environmental and nature conservation projects in the EU, candidate countries and selected neighboring regions.


Links to further information

EC press release on the EC-UNEP MoU, 20 September 2004

EC press release on the EC-FAO Strategic Partnership, 13 September 2004

EC press release on LIFE Environment 2004, 9 September 2004

EC press release on LIFE Nature 2004, 9 September 2004





The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and United Nations University (UNU) signed, on 24 August 2004, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen their cooperation on sustainable development activities and projects. ASEAN and the UNU have been collaborating since 1998 on a variety of activities and projects aimed at strengthening sustainable development, including those on synergy and coordination in the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, biosafety (particularly the safety of genetically modified organisms), urban environmental governance, and better management of protected areas. Through the new MoU, the signatories will explore new areas of collaboration including training in ASEAN Member Countries, an ASEAN-UNU lecture series at the ASEAN Secretariat and in ASEAN Member Countries, and fellowships for ASEAN scholars to conduct advanced research at UNU Institute of Advanced Studies.


Links to further information

UNU Press Release, 30 August 2004



UNEP and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) have jointly committed to enhance environmental management in the Central Asian region. Headquartered in Tehran, ECO is an intergovernmental regional organization aimed at promoting the socioeconomic development of member states, including through regional cooperation in the field of environment. Member States include Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. The agreement, forged in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, identifies the potential for joint activities in areas of renewable energy, environmental law making, environmental education and training programme, ecotourism, and environmental monitoring and assessment.


Links to further information

UNEP press release, 18 August 2004


JULY 2004



Written comments forwarded to the GEF to date caution against a performance-based allocation (PBA) framework that would hamper delivery of assistance that the GEF is mandated to deliver. During the negotiations for the third GEF replenishment in 2002, the GEF Council agreed to establish, by the end of 2004, a PBA system for the allocation of GEF resources based on global environmental priorities and country-level performance relevant to those priorities. In May 2003, a working group of technical experts was established to prepare elements of a framework, and a final report on the PBA was presented to the Council in November 2003. At its May 2004 meeting, the Council requested the GEF Secretariat to prepare a study of options to strengthen the current system of allocating GEF resources, and agreed to convene a seminar in September 2004 to advance its work on the PBA, in particular, to assist the GEF Secretariat to prepare a more elaborated proposal. In response to a request for comments, GEF Council members – Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands and Pakistan – have recently provided written comments on the proposed PBA framework.


Responses thus far underscore the need for a simple, flexible and transparent system that does not detract from the GEF's overarching priorities. Country comments indicate concerns regarding, inter alia: the proposed indicators that would be used to evaluate performance; the use of existing PBA systems such as those adopted by the International Development Association or multilateral development banks; the focus on biodiversity and climate change, which are just two of the GEF's six focal areas; and the subjectivity of assessments on country environment policy. Some comments warn that countries needing GEF support but lacking the capacity to launch the GEF programme would be penalized, and that country needs and capacity will not be considered. India further stressed that the PBA should not include macro-level indicators or governance reforms that have no specific relevance to the GEF's mandate. The Netherlands noted that poor country performance should not be absolute barrier GEF funding, and with Germany opposes an ex-ante system where budgets are fixed according to country performance.


Links to further information

GEF web updates, July 2004



UNEP has opened a new office in Vienna to focus on protecting the Carpathian mountain range and promoting environmental cooperation in Central and Southeastern Europe. The Carpathian mountain range spans the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia and Ukraine. Among the new office's duties will be to serve as the interim Secretariat of the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, which was adopted and signed in May 2003. The Carpathian mountain range has a unique ecosystem and hosts endangered species including the brown bear, wolf and lynx, and close to 4,000 partly endangered plant species.


Links to further information

UN press release, 15 July 2004



The United Nations General Assembly recently initiated the first phase of a multi-year plan to streamline and revamp its operations, adopting a resolution that aims to trim its agenda, focus the work of its Main Committees, and lessen the massive amount of paperwork it generates. According to the UN news centre, all issues considered by the Assembly will be grouped under nine headings: maintenance of international peace and security; promotion of sustained economic growth and sustainable development; development of Africa; promotion of human rights; effective coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts; promotion of justice and international law; disarmament; drug control, crime prevention and combating international terrorism; and organizational, administrative and other matters. On the practices and work of its six Main Committees, the GA decided that they would pay specific attention to rationalizing their future agendas through biennialization, triennialization, clustering or eliminating items.


The General Assembly also adopted a resolution expanding the Holy See's participation in the work of the UN. A permanent observer State at the UN for 40 years, the Holy See will now have the right to reply to speeches made during GA debates and the right to participate in the general debate, which convenes annually in September. The seat of the Vatican will also have the right to "its communications relating to the sessions and work of all international conferences convened under the auspices of the General Assembly issued and circulated directly, and without intermediary, as official documents of those conferences."


Links to further information

UN News Centre, 1 July 2004

UN press release, 1 July 2004



The EU Presidency changed hands from Ireland to the Netherlands on 1 July. The Dutch will hold the Presidency until 31 December 2004.


Links to further information

EUROPA – Gateway to the European Union website

Dutch Presidency of the EU Council website

"Outgoing Irish Presidency Gets Mixed Reviews," ENS, 1 July 2004


JUNE 2004



The Group of 77 commemorated its 40th anniversary with a two day Ministerial Meeting held from 11-12 June 2004 in Sao Paulo prior to the eleventh session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The meeting concluded with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration reaffirming the group's aspirations and solidarity, and addressing the key issues of major concern to developing countries. Such issues include: the need for an equitable international trade regime; ensuring policy space for developing countries to advance national development objectives based on their development, trade and financial needs; south-south cooperation; access to ICT; and strengthening multilateralism and the UN system. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to the MDGs and other internationally agreed development goals, and stressed the need to ensure a genuine "Global Partnership for Development" in order for the MDGs to be met.


Formed on 15 June 1964 through a joint declaration issued at the first UNCTAD meeting, the Group of 77 now comprises 132 members.


Links to further information

G-77 40th anniversary website

Ministerial Declaration on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the G-77



German-based chemicals and healthcare company Bayer AG has agreed to support UNEP's strategy to involve youth in environment issues through a €1 million a year partnership. The strategy also known as Tunza – a Kiswahili word that means to treat with care or affection – aims to increase youth awareness and participation in sustainable development issues and support will go toward relevant publications, activities and events, such as the annual Tunza international children's conference, for the next six years. The next Tunza conference will be held from 19-23 July 2004 in New London, CT, United States.


Links to further information

UN news centre, 21 June 2004



Leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations were urged by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and by NGOs of their countries ahead of the G8 Summit held recently in Sea Island, Georgia, US, to prioritize the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). UN Secretary-General Annan appealed in a letter to G8 leaders to incorporate the MDGs as an explicit priority in the programmes and policies of their countries. Annan also underscored the critical importance of MDG-8 on developing a global partnership for development for achieving the other seven goals.


In a similar vein, over 1,500 groups of humanitarian and development NGOs from the G8 nations joined together in a call to their nation's leaders to focus on poverty eradication and recommit to achieving the MDGs. The joint statement, released ahead of this year's G8 Summit, reminds G8 leaders that as they "debate the geostrategies for enhancing global stability" that many of them have made "convincing public cases in support of effective, accountable development." The statement calls on G8 leaders to: formally place eradication of extreme poverty as the central agenda item of all G8 meetings; recommit their governments, by specifying concrete strategies and plans, to the achievement of all the MDGs; and use and tailor all tools necessary for meeting the MDGs, including development assistance, trade policies, debt relief, technology transfer and private investment.


While discussions focused on Iraq and combating terrorism, the Sea Island Summit 2004, which took place from 8-10 June, produced a number of environment and sustainable development-related outcomes. These include agreements on: an action plan to "apply the power of entrepreneurship and the private sector" toward poverty alleviation; taking all necessary steps to eradicate polio by the end of 2005; an initiative to help prevent famine by improving worldwide emergency assessment and response systems, raising agricultural productivity, and helping 5 million chronically food insecure people in Ethiopia attain food security by 2009; and taking new action against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative, strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency, and refraining from new transfers of uranium enrichment and reprocessing technology.


G8 leaders also said agreed to launch in 2005 the "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Initiative," a plan aimed at cutting down on waste, promoting recycling, reducing barriers to trade in goods and materials for recycled and remanufactured products, and promoting science and technology on relevant technologies. This initiative is expected to be launched in early 2005 at a ministerial meeting hosted by the Government of Japan. The Summit also saw commitment to increasing action to promote global economic growth and directing trade ministers to successfully conclude the WTO's Doha global trade negotiations.


Next year's G8 Summit will be held in the United Kingdom.


Links to further information

G8 Sea Island Summit website

ENS, 11 June 2004

UN news centre, 7 June 2004

The G8 NGO statement to G8 leaders, 25 May 2004


MAY 2004


The Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia (UNESCAP) and the Pacific recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, committing to cooperate on critical issues such as poverty reduction. The MOU follows up on commitments made between the regional organizations at the Monterrey International Conference on Financing for Development and the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. A UNESCAP press release further highlights how the agreement reflects commitment of each organization to support achievement of the MDGs in the region. The MOU plans for a joint mid-term evaluation and ends in 2015, which is also the target date for achievement of the MDGs.


Links to further information

ESCAP press release, 18 May 2004


APRIL 2004


G-77 TURNS 40

As the Group of 77 (G-77), a coalition of developing countries that now includes 135 countries, marked its 40th anniversary, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for fairer access to development. During a celebratory event on 29 April 2004, Annan noted key contributions the coalition has made in advancing the global development agenda and highlighted issues yet to be addressed adequately, including private capital flows, unsustainable levels of external debt in many developing countries, lack of access to markets of developed countries, and restrictions on the movement of people from developing countries.


A Special Ministerial Meeting, to be held on 11-12 June 2004 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in conjunction with UNCTAD XI, will mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the G-77. The Ministerial aims to, inter alia, review the evolution of the G-77, assess the achievements of the Group over the last 40 years, and analyze the challenges facing developing countries. The meeting is expected to adopt the new strategy of action of developing countries through "a solemn declaration." The Chairs and Coordinators of the G-77 Chapters recently adopted a communiqué highlighting the group's commitments and concerns.


Links to further information

G-77 press release, 30 April 2004  

UN press release, 30 April 2004

Final Communiqué adopted at the 36th Meeting of the Chairmen/Coordinators of the Chapters of the G-77, 11 March 2004


UNEP has opened a new regional office in Brasilia, Brazil to focus on the promotion of renewable energies and efficient energy technologies, and development of emergency response and early warning systems. The office will also support the identification and development of projects to respond to national priorities in areas such as climate change, biodiversity, land degradation, and transboundary water and chemical management. The establishment of the office reflects UNEP's efforts to enhance the delivery of the organization's initiatives at the regional and subregional levels, respond more effectively to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and implement the Millennium Development Goals.


Links to further information

UNEP press release, 16 April 2004





The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UN Human Settlements Programme (HABITAT) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at ensuring closer cooperation in reducing urban poverty in the Asia Pacific region. The two organizations say the collaboration is critical for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Joint projects in the works include the convening of a Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries prior to the 60th ESCAP Session to be held in Shanghai in April, a Global Rural-Urban Linkages Conference scheduled for later this year, and the Fourth Asia-Pacific Urban Forum, which will be held in 2005 and will focus on localized implementation of the MDGs in the Asia-Pacific.


Links to further information

UN-HABITAT press release, 26 February 2004

UNESCAP press release, 25 February 2004



With more middle to high income consumers in Asia and the Pacific than in Western Europe and North America combined, rising consumerism in Asia might lead to an ecological disaster if consumption levels in the east reach those seen in the west. In efforts to stem the tide of this potential catastrophe, the European Union is funding a US$500,000 project called Sustainable Consumption Asia or SC.Asia that aims to identify existing best practices for promoting sustainable consumption in Europe and Asia, and build knowledge and capacity in government agencies for their implementation.


Some Asian countries are beginning to address unsustainable consumption in response to its adverse effects, such as natural resource depletion, waste generation, traffic congestion and freshwater and power supply shortages, but according to SC.Asia Project Manager Niclas Svenningsen, most governments are focused primarily on economic growth. Svenningsen suggests a sustainable model for many Asian countries as one that would entail increasing consumption to address poverty and ensure basic needs are met, and modifying patterns and levels of consumption in the more affluent sectors.


"As in many western countries, Asian shopping malls and brand boutiques are being driven by a mentality of shop 'til you drop, spend 'til you bend, and buy 'til you die. Consuming is being touted as happiness and little attention is being paid to the life behind the product," Svenningsen states. "There are opportunities for countries to "leap-frog" some of the phases and mistakes of western countries by adopting practices such as recycling programmes, product testing, product labeling and information, public awareness campaigns based on social research, 'leading by example' and accountability by government and the private sector, and 'environmentally-friendly' laws and economic incentives," Svenningsen added.


Links to further information

UN Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific press release, 9 February 2004





The Kingdom of Morocco formally turned over the chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China) to the State of Qatar on 16 January 2004. Established on 15 June 1964 by 77 developing countries that signed the "Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries" issued at the end of the first session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, the G-77/China will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. As the largest developing country coalition in the UN, the Group provides a means for the developing world to articulate and promote its collective economic interests and enhance its negotiating capacity on all major international economic issues in the United Nations system. While the membership of the G-77/China has increased to 135 countries, the original name is retained for historical significance.


Links to further information
G-77 news centre, 16 January 2004

UN Secretary-General's remarks at the G-77 handover ceremony, 16 January 2004



The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is inviting the public to comment on a draft revision of its Principles of Corporate Governance adopted by OECD governments in 1999. The OECD Principles recommend minimum requirements for best practice in corporate governance. While non-binding, they serve as a reference for corporate governance initiatives globally, underpinning the corporate governance component of the World Bank/IMF reports on standards and Codes, and providing a reference for national legislation and regulation. Revisions and reinforcements of the Principles were called for by OECD governments in response to recent corporate scandals. The final revised version of the Principles is planned for submission and approval at the annual OECD Council Ministerial in May 2004.


Links to further information

OECD press release, 12 January 2004,2340,en_2649_34487_23892248


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