Nairobi, 10 November 2008 - The Tenth Session of the African Civil Society Forum is convening today in Nairobi, Kenya at the initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for Africa, ahead of the 25th Session of UNEP Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environment Forum, which will take place in February 2009 at UNEP headquarters.
The objective of the two day Civil Society Forum is to provide a platform for exchange and consultation among civil society on key environmental issues to be addressed by the Member States during the GC/GMEF, and to facilitate Major Groups' contribution to the GC/GMEF and other international environmental forums.
Representatives of environmental NGOs, trade unions, women groups, Youth, the private sector and indigenous communities from 20 African countries will discuss how to move forward on critical issues such as Globalization, International Environment Governance, climate change, mercury, and more effective ways of engagement between UNEP and civil society, including business.
'Globalization and the Environment - 'Global Crises: National Chaos?' will be the principal topic of the 25th Session of the GC/GMEF and civil society deliberations are meant to provide the world's environment ministers with different perspectives and hands on information as they address multiple environmental and development challenges at country and regional levels, and capture the opportunities that are arising in support their endeavors.
The recent developments within the UN on International Environmental Governance (IEG), including the calls for greater coherence within the UN system will be the second topic of the 25th UNEP Governing Council. Discussions will focus on whether this issue is a Help or a Hindrance. African civil society consultations will therefore aim at providing environment ministers globally with the opportunity to not only obtain a comprehensive update on all of the recent IEG developments but also to reflect upon existing agreed global environmental goals, and the current actions to meeting these goals with the needs and priorities of countries in mind.
There is a renewed emphasis within the UN on results based management. At the same time UNEP is being pulled to look at where it should focus its efforts into the future. The UNEP Medium Term Strategy, which is the basis for the development of the 2010-2011 programme of work and focuses on six priority areas including climate Change; disasters and conflicts; ecosystem Management; environmental Governance; harmful Substances and Hazardous Waste and resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production will form part of the deliberations.
Participants will also be looking at issues related to poverty, as a key concern for Africa and beyond, that reduces the ability of people to respond and adapt to environmental change and leads to unsustainable production and consumption patterns particularly with climate change emerging as another driving force behind many of these problems.
The meeting is expected to develop a regional message to be presented at the UNEP Governing Council in Nairobi in February 2009.
UNEP considers civil society organizations as a critical source of experience and knowledge regarding the development and implementation of local, national and regional strategies for sustainable development. The meeting is therefore part of UNEP strategy of enhancing its' collaboration with civil society through a greater commitment and a more systematic approach to partnerships and dialogues.
Notes to Editors
Since its inception, the United Nations Environment Programme has enjoyed a special relationship with major groups in tackling environmental issues. Indeed, the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment, which led to the creation of UNEP in 1972, owed much to the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of major groups. Most of the multilateral environmental agreements (Basel Convention, Montreal Protocol, Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions, etc) were developed thanks to the lobbying efforts of major groups.
In the process leading to UNEP GC/GMEF, and as per the rule 69 of the rules of procedures of the UNEP Governing Council, civil society organizations accredited to UNEP receive the unedited working documents of the UNEP Governing Council sessions at the same time as the Committee of the Permanent Representatives (CPR), for their review and comments. This consultation with civil society prior to the Governing Council provides an opportunity for civil society to contribute to the discussions on thematic and policy issues to be tackled by Ministers
Regional and global civil society forums are critical processes in the effort to incorporate all important stakeholders in shaping UNEP's agenda in protecting the environmental base of sustainable development, as they are a crucial source of experience and knowledge regarding the development and implementation of local, national and regional strategies for sustainable development.
The Forum is the main entry point for civil society participation at the governance level in the GCSF cycle. It is built around six regional consultation meetings. 270 representatives from 94 countries have been involved through previous months in discussions on policy issues at the regional land global level.
For More Information Please Contact: Olivier Deleuze, Chief, Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch, on Tel: +254 20 762 4686; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or Angele Luh-Sy, Regional Information Officer, on Tel: 254 20 762 4292, Mobile: 254 722 429 770, E-mail: Angele.Luh@unep.org