Resources for:
  Civil Society
  Business Persons
  Children and Youth

Thematic Areas

 Printable Version


17. In discussion agenda item 5 at the 2nd to 7th meetings of the session the council had before it the following documents: Introductory report of the Executive Director (UNEP/GC.6/2), with an addendum and supplement reporting on the results of the Executive Director's consultations with governments on the advisability and feasibility of the Governing Council approving UNEP projects; the report on the state of the environment; selected topics-1978 (UNEP/GC. 6/4); and the executive Director's report (UNEP/gc.6/3) on resolutions of the general Assembly and the Economic and Social Council relevant to UNEP.

18. In an introductory statement (UNEP/GC/6.L.I); at the 2nd meeting of the session, the executive director focused on four main these: major developments in the United Nations System, and in particular the outcome of the thirty-second session of the general Assembly; progress in implementing the environment programme; the position of the fund; and relations between the secretariat and Governments.

19. UNEP was playing an active role in the sessions of the committee of the whole established by the General Assembly to prepare for its special session in 1980 to assess the progress made towards the establishment of a new international economic order. UNEP was also Co-operating with the committee on development planning and the Administrative committee on consideration of the new international development objectives in their consideration of the new international development strategy. Collaboration was needed with other United Nations Organizations, as well as with the director-general for economic Co-operation and development, so as to encourage them to inject environmental considerations into their own contributions to the framing of the international development strategy.

20. The general assembly's recommendations, in resolution 32/197 of 20 December 1977, on interagency planning, programming, budgeting and evaluation were likely to have a considerable effect on UNEP. The relevant suggestions contained in the introductory report of the executive director. (UNEP/GC.6/2) were in line with the intent of those recommendations. If the suggestions met with the approval of the governing council and the general assembly should be so informed.

21. The section of resolution 32/197 on interagency co-ordinatin was special concern to UNEP. The general assembly recommended inter alla that steps be taken to merge the environmental co-ordination Board, the interagency consultative Board and the UNIDO Advisory committee with the Administrative committee on Co-ordination, which would assume their respective functions. Those steps were subject to the guidance and supervision of the economic and social council, and the Governing Council's views would be particularly germane to its consideration of the matter.

Answers must be found to a number of questions. Since the principal function of UNEP was to achieve a system wide Co-ordinated response to Environmental Issues, and the Environment co-ordination Board was the institutional function performed by the Board could be conserved. The second was how the Governing council could continue to receive the annual report on system-wide co-operation in the implementation of its decisions which was at present provided by the Board. The third question was how the administrative committee on co-ordination was going to carry out the responsibilities entrusted to the environment co-ordination Board by general Assembly resolution 32/172 of19 December 1977 - to establish a working group on the implementation of the plan of Action to combat desertification, and to prepare a progress report every year, and a complete guidance of the council on those highly important issues would be greatly appreciated.

22. the general Assembly's decision in section III of resolution 32/162 of 19 December 1977 that there should be close links between habitat, centre for the human settlements and UNEP was in line with the position taken at earlier sessions of the governing council concerning the relationship between the natural and man-made environments. UNEP welcomed the location of the centre at Nairobi; it pledged its full support, offered its co-operation and would endeavor to establish the closest possible links with the new institution.

23. As to the permanent headquarters buildings of UNEP, the general assembly had approved in principle the construction of United Nations accommodation at Nairobi and had authorized the secretary-general to proceed in accordance with the recommendations in his report to the General Assembly. Construction was expected to begin in Mid-1979, and occupancy was planned for early 1982.

24. The special session of the general assembly devoted to disarmament was of major international importance. Since the arms race and conventional and other forms of warfare had serious environmental and social-economic implications, it was most fitting for UNEP to take the occasion to emphasize the dangers warfare presented to the environment and the environment and the environmental benefits which would flow from arms control and disarmament.

25. UNEP was contributing to the preparations of three forthcoming united nations conferences: the conference on Technical co-operation among developing countries, to be held at Buenos Aires from 28 August to 8 September 1978; the 1979 conference on science and technology for Development; and the 1979 FAO conference on Agrarian reform and Rural Development. At the same time, follow-up action was progressing satisfactorily on the united Nations conference on desertification and the intergovernmental conference on environmental Education. Two conferences which were of the utmost significance to the environment programme and its aim of World-wide action to present and alleviate environment

26. The adoption by the intergovernmental working Group of experts on Natural Resources shared by two or more states of draft principles of conduct for the guidance of states in the use and conservation of such resources represented a major break-through. The responsibility placed upon UNEP by the General Assembly in resolution 3129 (XXVIII) OF 13 December 1973 had thus been discharged. The council might wish to recommend to the general Assembly that it adopt the principles of conduct and call upon states to respect them.

27. An significant step in international environmental co-operation had been taken in April 1978 at a WMO/UNEP informal meeting of meteorological and legal express, which had agreed upon nine draft principles of conduct for the guidance of states in relation to weather modification and prepared guidelines for national legislation on weather modification experiments and operations.

28. On 12 February 1978 the convention for the protection of the Mediterranean Sea against pollution and the two related protocols, having received the required ratification by six states, had entered into force. Tow more states and the European community had since deposited their instruments of ratification.

29. The conference of plenipotentiaries on the protection and development of the marine environment and the coastal areas, held in Kuwait in April 1978, had been successful. Delegations from seven countries of the region had approved a comprehensive Action plan, as well as the Kuwait Regional convention for co-operation on the protection of the Marine Environment from pollution and the protocol concerning regional co-operation in combating pollution by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency. In addition, they had agreed to establish a marine emergencies Mutal Aid centre to co-ordinate national efforts to avoid and combat pollution by oil and other harmful substances in cases of emergency, and decided to create a regional trust fund of $5.8 million to cover the expenses of scientific and Socia-Economic activities undertaken as part of the action plan. The conference had requested UNEP to set up an interim secretariat to co-ordinate all activities related to the plan. UNEP had agreed to do so and offered to contribute up to $500,000 over the coming two years towards the cost of that secretariat and related activities. It was highly significant that all Governments of the region had committed themselves to a course of development designed to protect the environment for future generations. He confidently expected the Governing council's full support in translating the agreement into practical activities, and would request its authorization during the session to establish the trust fund.

30. A gratifying instance of interagency co-operation had been the presentation to WHO and FAO to the environment co-ordination Board at its seventh session of three memoranda of understanding governing those organizations' collaboration in the area of water. The Board had welcomed those agreements, and requested its focal points to prepare a draft statement on the health aspects of water resources development projects.

31. At the meeting of executive secretaries of the united Nations regional commissions at Geneva in July 1976, it had been suggested that UNEP should help the commissions to establish appropriate machinery within their secretaries to deal with environmental issues. Agreement had since been reached with all the regional commissions that UNEP would support, initially for two years, the establishment of environmental units to be placed directly under the supervision of the executive secretaries. The units would work closely with the UNEP regional offices, and it was hoped that the regional commissions would continue to support the units once initial assistance from UNEP ended.

32. Since the fifth session of the Governing council, satisfactory progress had been made in respect of the public information efforts of UNEP. With the assistance and co-operation of the information divisions of other united nations bodies, UNEP had achieved very ood coverage of the United Nations conference on desertification. The four issues of volume I of Mazingira (now in its second year of publication) had received favourable comments. Arrangements were being made with international publishers to have UNEP materials made available to a much wider audience; one such agreement had recently been made with Vinitl publishers in Moscow. Greater attention was being given to developing UNEP'S Audio-visual services. More was being done to get the environmental message closer to the "grass roots" of society everywhere. With the continued help of non-governmental organizations, UNEP was directing its efforts towards giving world environment day more local meaning and significance.

33. Work was under way on the comprehensive state of the environment study, ten years after Stockholm. The aim was a comprehensive assessment of environmental conditions and trends in the decade since the Stockholm Conference. Much interest had already been taken in the study: some foundations in north America, Europe and Japan had pledged financial support, and efforts were being made to obtain more such support.

34. in some areas, achievements had fallen short of his hopes. In spite of the many accomplishment in the Mediterranean progrqamme, agreement had not yet been reached by the Governments concerned on the key problem of how to protect that sea from land-based pollution. He earnestly hoped that present difficulties would not erode the sense of urgency about saving the Mediterranean. The use rate of the international referral system (IRS) was still far from satisfactory, and still more active involvement was needed from governments before the system could deliver what was expected of it. For the international register of potentially toxic chemicals (IRPTC), which was also developing a query-answer capability, effectiveness was also predicated on an increase in the number of national correspondents. Governments had so far shown limited interest in the technical assistance clearing -house facility established in 1975; UNEP was keen to increase the number of countries willing to offer technical assistance to other countries on request, and he appealed to all governments for their support to that activity.

35. With regard to the environment fund, the target of $150 million approved for the medium-term plan period of 1978 to 1981 was predicated on new contributions from member states which had not contributed to so far at present only 52 governments had announced pledges to the fund-increased contributions from others whose contributions had been modest, and contributions from higher-level donors close to their contributions, for 1973-1977. Sweden had maintained its 1973-1977 percentage of contributions, and he had received assurances from a number of other countries that they were trying to do the same. That would help UNEP to close the gap between the current level of estimated resources for the implementation of the plan, a little over $112 million, and the target figure of $ 150 million..

36. During his recent visit to the Soviet Union, an important break-through had been achieved regarding the use of he noble contribution, both convertible and non-convertible, through agreement on eight projects involving the utilization of he equivalent in noubles of 3.6 million over three years. In addition, the soviet authorities had also agreed that, extractive to 1975, the non-rouble salaries and other emoluments of soviet experts consultants and officials engaged in the development of Fund programme and fund programe reserve activities would be met out of the convertible 25 percent of the contribution. The governing council might wish to consider adding an appropriate amount, corresponding to the non-convertible currency projects recently agreed to in Moscow, to the allocation authority for 1978, 1979 and 1980. For 1978, he would propose that the council apportion the allocation authority thus released, amounting to approximately $ 1.5 million, to a number of budget lines. He hoped the council would approve similar proposals for any other currency in a similar situation.

37. the guidance of the Governing Council was needed on two specific proposed fund activities. The first problem was that of the contribution by UNEP to the trust fund which the Governments convened at the recent Monaco intergovernmental meeting of Mediterranean coastal states on the Mediterranean action plan had decided to establish to ensure the development and co-ordiantion of agreed activities. In view of the importance of supporting activities in other regional seas and of the constraints on the financial resources of UNEP, and in accordance with the governing council's previous decisions concerning a progressive transfer of executive responsibilities to the Governments of the region, the executive director had proposed at the meeting that the contribution by UNEP to the trust fund should be limited to 25 per cent of the total, and should not exceed 10per cent of the allocation approved by the Governing council at its fifth session for the oceans budget line. The representatives of the Mediterranean countries, however, had suggested that 50 percent of the trust fund could be financed by UNEP and the other international organizations concerned. the second problems was the contribution by UNEP towards the secretariat for the convention on international trade in endangered species of Wild fauna and flora. The executive director had advises the parties to the convention that UNEP would be prepared to meet 20percent of the total cost of the secretariat, up to a maximum of 1200,00 per annum. He had, he had, however, been requested to provide approximately $ 1 million for a two year period. There was also the question of financial support for meetings of the conference of the parties. UNEP had met the cost of holding the first such meeting and was prepared to meet the expenses (around $170,000) of the second, but could not accept that responsibility on a continuing basis without a policy directive from the council. If the council agreed to a higher level of funding for the Mediterranean and the convention, it should determine which allocations to the different budget lines should be reduced, should that be necessary.

38. with regard to relations between the secretarial and Governments, he was gratified to note the good response received to a number of requests for information, connected for example with the level one reviews of environment and development and environmental management and of environmental education and training and with activities in the programme topics selected for in-depth reporting to the council at its sixth session. However, responses had been less satisfactory another questions, such as the implementation of international conventions on the environment

39. Governments could serve the purposes of UNEP, and the environment cause in general, by ensuring that environmental factors were given an appropriately prominent place at forthcoming world conferences and in the formulation of the next international development strategy.

40. The informal consultations with Governments held at Nairobi from 16 to 20 January 1978, had provided good opportunities for contacts between governments and the secretariat. Ongoing liaison and consultations with the permanent representatives in Nairobi and the meetings of the focal points had also continued to prove very useful. Since the fifth session of governing council, the executive director had been to the Holy see, Iran, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Norway, Finland, the soviet Union, Sweden, France, Belgium, the federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Algeria, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and development. The fact that he had been received at the highest levels by heads of state or government in almost all the countries visited was a gratifying indication of the importance they attached to environmental concerns and to the role of UNEP. The visit had also reinforced his belief that there was urgent need for better exchange of information, experience and access stories. He had received strong support for carrying out concrete case studies on the real costs and benefits of environmental protection in a world faced with a series of economic difficulties, and therefore planned to hold formal consultations on that subject with interested Governments and intergovernmental bodies during the current session of the council. He had also found, particularly among parties to the home convention, a wide concern for proper environmental assessment of development activities supported through bilateral of multilateral aid. None of he countries ha had visited including the soviet Union, was contemplating any changes in the existing procedures for the approval of projects supported by the fund.

41. The Executive director then announced the winners of the international pahlavl environment Prize for 1978 to be awarded on 5 June, World Environment Day. They were professor Mohamed Abdel Fattah El Kassas, professor of plant ecology at Cairo University, and Dr. ThorHeyerdahl, Norwegian Ethoologist, author and explorer.

42. In conclusion, the executive Director stressed the centerlines of environmental considerations in all matters affecting human welfare throughout the world. The secretary-general, in his report to the general throughout the world. The secretary-general, in his report to the General, in his report to the General Assembly at its thirty second session, 3 had reiterated that, since its foundation, the united nations had been searching for a working balance between national sovereignty and interests on the one hand, and international between national sovereignty and interests on the one had, and international order and the long-term interests of the world community on the other. The executive director believed that the environment was an area where that search promised to be most fruitful. The pursuit of solutions to environmental problems implied a concern for long-term interests and those of the world community a a whole. Those considerations, in his view, clearly motivated the work of the governing council. The co-operative which was reflected each year in the work strengthened his belief that the environment programme could do more than any other single field of human endeavor to draw nations and peoples together in mutual understanding and sympathy.

43. During the general debate, which took place at the 3rd to 7th meetings of the session from 10 to 12 May 1978, delegations agreed that the problems facing both developing countries could only be alleviated through environmentally sound development and sustainable economic growth in harmony with the environment. Several speakers noted with satisfaction that the General Assembly had, in resolutions 32/168, stressed the need for ensuring that the environment considerations were taken into account in development programmes in differing social-economic settings, in the implementation of the programme of action on the establishment of a new international economic order and in the formulation of the new international development strategy. UNEP must ensure adequate implementation of that decision in the various forums where those subjects were discussed, particularly in the course of the preparatory work for the 1980 special session of he general assembly which would assess the progress made in the establishment of the new international economic order. Several representatives stressed the importance of the forthcoming united Nations conference on science and technology for Development, and welcomed the action being taken by UNEP to ensure that the environmental dimensions was adequately reflected at the conference. One delegation noted with satisfaction that the executive director was making inputs to the formulation of the new international development strategy for the 1980s.

44. several speakers said that improvement of the quality of life for all people was the central objective to which the harmonization of environment and development policies should be geared, the development of just economic relations between states, equitable distribution of world resources, individual and collective self-reliance of countries and the satisfaction of basic human needs were important factors in the achievement of that objective. Some delegations also stated that effective co-operation in ___

3/ official records of the general assembly, thirty-second session, supplement no. 1(A/3271).

The environmental field for the benefit of present and succeeding generations could only be achieve through a universal, just and lasting peace in the world, through peaceful co-existence among states with different social, economic land political systems and at different levels of development and through the strengthening and widening of international détente. It was also indispensable to work for the prevention of a new world war, put an end to the arms race and switch corresponding resources to peaceful uses. A number of delegations stressed the importance of activities aimed at prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and use of neutron weapons; in their view s such activities would enjoy broad support from UNEP and other international organizations. International organizations such as UNEP must support such actions; in particular, UNEP should participate actively in the forthcoming special session of the General Assembly on disarmament, which should lead to a major break-through in agreement on practical disarmament measures. One delegation also recalled in that connection on military or any other hostile use of environmental modification techniques and resolution 4 of the united Nations conference on certification on the effect of weapons of mass destruction on ecosystems, both of which were important steps in the right direction.

45. one delegation said that developing countries had become more keenly aware that the old international economic order, based on oppression, exploitation and plunder, was a heavy restraint on the development of their national economies and the biggest obstacle to environmental improvement only by persevering in the effort to combat imperialism. Colonialism and hegamonism and to replace the old economic order by a new one could they ensure their independence and prosperity and create the necessary political and economic conditions for the improvement of the environment. The super power that styled itself a "Naturally" of the developing countries incessantly touted everywhere the line that development and environmental protection were dependent upon "deterrent" and "disarmament". Yet, in actual practice, it devoted a massive effort to the arms race. In order to contend with the other super-power for world hegemony, it tries its best to achieve military supremacy by making huge military expenditures in active preparations for a world war, and preached disarmament while practicing the hoax of sham disarmament coupled with genuine arms expansion, so as to cover up its aggression and expansion and, through that ruse, to lead astray the anti hegemonies struggle of the medium-sized and small countries and their people. The developing countries, after winning political independence, still had the task of achieving economic independence and developing their national economics. In the fulfillment of that task, they should earnestly study and improvement, a goal which could be achieved if the interests of the people and the long-term interests of the countries were fully expected and if appropriate protective measures were taken simultaneously with steps towards development.

46. One delegation pointed out that the general debate was business-like and constructive in character. Only one statement had been dissonant, in that it contained slanderous fabrications against a state member of the governing council; the attempt to impose such polemics could only distract the session from discussion of the agenda items. The same delegaion gave a detailde account of its country's policy, which aimed at maintaining and strenghtening peace in the world, turning intenaional détente into an irreversible process which was comprehensive in coverage, halting the arms race and preventing a new world war. It also emphasized its belief that, viewing the problems of environmental protection in the overall context of efforts to normalize the world's political climate, international of efforts to normalize the world's political climate, international organizations, including UNEP, could not stand aside from the actions aimed at putting an end to the arms race, and primarily at elimination weapons at putting an end to the arms race, and primarily at eliminating weapons, including the neutron bomb.

47. Several delegations stressed the importance of the recent endorsement by the economic commission for Europe commission for Europe (ECE) of the Soviet proposal for the holding in 1979, as a follow-up to the Final Act of the Helsinki conference on security and co-operation in Europe, of an all European conference on the protection of the environment which would deal with a number of important environmental problems, several of which were already part of the UNEP programme, and would intensify governmental support for the work of UNEP other relevant international governmental and non-governmental bodies; two of the important subjects to be discussed at the conference were the long range transport of pollutants and the question of low-waste technologies. Some speakers also referred to the activities of CMEA for mutual co-operation in the field of the environment and to the world carried out by EEC and the organization for economic co-operation and development (OECD); in there view, UNEP collaboration with those organizations was of the utmost importance.

48. Several delegations described measures recently adopted in their countries for the protection and improvement of the environmental machineries, as well as the growing body of national environmental legislation, afforded further evidence that awareness and understanding of environmental issues was markedly increasing; the activities of UNEP had, directly or indirectly contributed to those positive developments.

49. Most delegations reiterated that the main function of UNEP was to co-ordinate and catalyze environmental activities within the united nations system. The progress accomplished in that regard was considerable, as evidenced, in particular, by the tone and substance of the introductory report of the executive director and of the reports of the Environment co-ordination Board. Several delegations also felt that the goals for 1982 4/ would help define the practical framework of achievements for UNEP in the medium term, and one speaker said that they would be a useful benchmark by which to measure UNEP'S succeed in raising the environmental conscience of the united nations system ten years after Stockholm. One delegation, while recognizing that all 21 goals were important, in that their timely achievement would substantially contribute to the solution of the environmental.


4/ UNEP/GC/L.48; approved by decision 82 (V), sect. VI.

Problems of the planed, considered that a precise balance and inter co-ordination were needed in their realization in order to avoid scattering of efforts and duplication of activities with other United Nations agencies. The secretariat might therefore wish to consider the preparation of a concrete organizational plan for their attainment, to be submitted to the informal consultations, as well as to the council at its seventh session, together with a progress report on the implementation of