Rio de Janeiro, 21 June 2012 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the European Union's Committee of the Regions (CoR) signed today a Memorandum of Understanding, signalling a new phase of cooperation between the two institutions. The agreement sets out a framework for strong cooperation with the shared goal of achieving a sustainable future. Both institutions agreed to prioritise five areas namely: multilevel environmental governance; green economy and resource efficiency; climate change mitigation and adaptation; biodiversity and ecosystems management; and decentralised cooperation for development. It reinforces both institutions belief that there is a need to strengthen the role of local and regional authorities within the policy-decision making process if this objective is to be achieved.
The agreement was signed during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio (Rio+20) at an event held jointly by the CoR and the European Commission in cooperation with UNEP. The MoU emphasises the importance of placing sustainable cities at the heart of the global strategy on sustainable development. With cities responsible for consuming some 75% of the Earth's natural resources, the purchasing and policy decisions at a local level can assist the drive towards a green economy and make a key contribution to achieving the objectives of Rio+20.
UNEP's Deputy Executive Director, Ms Amina Mohamed, who signed the agreement on behalf of UNEP, referred to the flagship report "Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication" which stresses the important role of cities and regional authorities. She said, "If a global transition to an inclusive green economy is to be truly realised then all cities and regions need to be part of this paradigm shift. A key challenge, but also an opportunity for Europe and for the world, is catalysing energy efficiency in buildings for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy security, generating million of new jobs as well as 'greening' existing employment for many of the estimated 111 million people working in the construction sector."
In the presence of the EU Commissioner for Environment, Janez Potočnik, President Bresso reinforced this perspective stating that, "As representatives of the European Union's cities and regions, we seek ambitious targets and an effective roadmap to a 'green economy' that must be agreed worldwide. It is time to call for a stronger institutional set-up in the global governance of the natural resources of our planet. And it is time to invest in cities and regions as government actors capable of driving growth, social inclusion and environmental protection." She emphasised that this would also contribute to the strategy in dealing with the economic crisis.
Bresso also took the opportunity to call upon cities and regions throughout the world to join together and develop a global network to share best practise in urban sustainable development. Referring to two initiatives launched by the European Union - European Green Capitals and the Covenant of Mayors - she said, "Today we offer to make this partnership even broader and stronger. We call to work together to set a global playing field between the European schemes and the similar ones available in other parts of the world. This would allow to benchmark and guide urban best practices across continents, while respecting differences."
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About the United Nations Environment Programme
UNEP, established in 1972, is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment. To accomplish this, UNEP works with a wide range of partners, including United Nations entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and civil society.
More information on the UNEP: http://www.unep.org
About the Committee of the Regions
The Committee of the Regions is the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. The mission of its 344 members from all 27 EU Member States is to involve regional and local authorities and the communities they represent in the EU's decision-making process and to inform them about EU policies. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council are obliged to consult the Committee in policy areas affecting regions and cities. It can appeal to the EU Court of Justice if its rights are infringed or it believes that an EU law violates the subsidiarity principle or fails to respect regional or local power.
For more information on the Committee of the Regions: www.cor.europa.eu/en/news/events/Pages/rio-20.aspx
UNEP: James.Morris@unep.org +32 2 213 3059
Committee of the Regions: David.French@cor.europa.eu +32 2 282 2535