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IV - State of the Environment Reports

1. In considering this item, at its 7th meeting, on 29 May, the Council had before it the following documentation: progress report on comprehensive 1992 state-of-the-environment report (UNEP/GC.16/7); the 1990 state-of-the-environment report ("Children and the environment,') (UNEP/GC.16/8); the 1991 state-of-the-environment report ("State of the world environment") (UNEP/GC.16/9); the report of the Executive Director on emerging environmental issues (UNEP/GC.16/9/Add.1); and the report of the Executive Director on hazardous environmental events (UNEP/GC.16/9/Add.2).

2. Introducing the item, the Executive Director said that one of the main problems in preparing reports on the state of the environment was the very limited monitoring data received from developing countries. Most of the data provided to the secretariat were from developed countries, which gave rise to an unavoidable slant in the presentation. Time-series data in particular, going back up to 10 years, were unavailable from developing countries, which lacked the capacities for such monitoring. He hoped that the members of the Council would call on Governments to build and strengthen such capacities in those countries. Referring to the comprehensive report covering the period from 1982-1992, he said that the goal of completing such a large-scale publication by 1992, instead of 1993 as originally projected, presented major logistical time-frame problems. However, in co-operation with the editors and authors, he would do his utmost to meet the earlier deadline.

3. A number of representatives expressed the hope that the comprehensive report would be an authoritative statement on the condition of the planet. Presentation of a first-class and well-balanced report to Rio, said one representative, would be the best possible evidence of UNEP's unique expertise.

4. One representative, expressing the hope that the comprehensive report could be ready for presentation to UNCED, said that in the report the role of environmental information should be stressed, together with the interlined subjects of resource - and environmental accounting, as well as environmental indicators. He considered that the section on the Arctic in the Executive Director's report on emerging environmental issues was too brief, since that area needed a great deal of attention.

5. Another representative, expressing support for UNEP's work on environmental data reporting, stressed the need for further registration of environmental data, especially over time. Such data were vital in ensuring compliance with agreements made on the environment and in assessing the need for new ones.

6. One representative, expressing agreement with the way in which the issue of municipal waste had been presented in the Executive Director's report on emerging environmental issues, stressed the need to give high priority to that subject, together with the issue of drinking water quality.

7. The 1990 state-of-the-environment report, dealing with the effects of the environment on children, was singled out by one representative, who hoped that UNEP would continue to focus on the protection of children.

Action By The Council

8. The Council then proceeded to consider and adopt, at its 8th meeting a number of decisions on state-of-the-environment reports (decisions 16/15 A to C, 16/16 and 16/17). The text of these decisions is included in annex I to the present proceedings, and their process of adoption, including any comments made at the time, is recorded in chapter II, paras. 49-55, above.