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Thematic Areas

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1. The role of the United Nations Evironment Programme (UNEP) Regional Office for North America (RONA) has changed dramatically with the introduction of its inter-agency affairs functions in September 1998. Currently, the primary functions of RONA are regional liaison and the promotion of environmental awareness in North America, inter-agency affairs and international liaison with the United Nations and its subsidiary bodies, including the Economic and Social Council, and with permanent missions. The international liaison and inter-agency affairs functions now overshadow the regional functions of this office. While international liaison and inter﷓agency affairs are indispensable and critical functions for UNEP in New York, they are however, growing at the expense of the regional functions. The present evaluation recommends that the regional functions of UNEP be separated from the international liaison and inter-agency affairs functions. This will allow each area of work to receive undivided attention and will therefore be conducive to a more effective management of each of the functions. To that end, UNEP should maintain an office in New York to conduct international liaison, policy coordination, and inter-agency activities. A separate regional office for North America should be established in Washington, to maintain liaison with the Governments and public of Canada and the United States of America.

2. While policy on liaison and inter-agency affairs is primarily implemented in New York, it can only be developed at UNEP headquarters with the full participation of the UNEP New York office. While the director of the New York office will continue to be given specific tasks and assignments by the Executive Director of UNEP, all those assignments must be coordinated by the Director of the Division of Environmental Policy Development and Law, to whom the New York office must report. The regional office to be located in Washington should, like all the other regional offices, fall under the Division of Regional Cooperation and Representation.

3. RONA should develop an integrated environment programme for North America, which addresses the environmental needs of the region. This should include strengthening relationships with Governments, non﷓governmental organizations, academic institutions and the private sector. Such a programme will increase environmental awareness in the region and enable UNEP to develop more collaborative work with the public in the different areas.

4. UNEP should consolidate its international liaison and inter-agency affairs functions in New York, in a bid to strengthen its strategic role. The UNEP New York office is not only strategic in nature but is critical in advancing the cause of the environment, both within the family and globally, through the permanent missions located in New York.

5. It is concluded here that the regional function and the liaison and inter-agency function are both critical to the work of UNEP and that both must be maintained, but as separate functions.