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A - Programme presentation and co-ordination

184. In his introductory statement, the Assistant Executive Director, Bureau of the Programrae, said that documents UNEP/GC.8/INF.2 and 3 and INF-3/Corr.1 established a new path for future UNEP activities. It was therefore important to have the views of the Committee on how the sample programme perspective document flowed into the sample System-wide Medium-term Environment Programme (SWMTEP), on the value of the information contained in the sample documents, and on whether they meshed easily into the process of reporting on performance, as well as on the desirable length of the complete programme perspective and SW14TEP documents to be produced for future sessions of the Council.

185. Several delegations expressed satisfaction at the effort made by the secretariat in preparing the sample documents, which was especially commendable in view of the difficult nature of the task. The complicated planning process currently employed by the United Nations system necessarily required complex documentation, and part of the difficulty stemmed from the fact that the format of a document on a complex issue could not be dissociated from its substance.

186. Several delegations commended the sample SWMTEP document (UNEP/GC.8/iNF-3 and Corr.1), which they felt contained the requisite information for programme planning and budgeting, indicating planned activities under the environment programme not only of UNEP but also of other organizations of thb United Nations system, together with the resources required and the specific purposes for which they would be utilized. It therefore provided a reliable basis for reviews of performance, whether conducted in or outside UNEP, by means of progress markers, achievement indicators and other criteria.

187. A number of delegations, however, pointed out that the sample contained excessive detail which was not relevant to the kinds of policy guidance being sought from the Council, and would result in a document too long for the Council to be able to deal with at its regular sessions. Another asked whether the activities described as to be undertaken by other agencies had or had not been approved by the governing bodies empowered to establish their objectives and asked whether UNEP was the final authority on the actions proposed, or if they were subject to review by the Coimnittee for Programme and Co-ordination (CPC), the Economic and Social Council or the General Assembly.

188. Several delegations put forward suggestions for reducing the amount of detail in the S14ffEP document. One proposed the use of diagrams and sketches as opposed to lengthy descriptions of activities. Another suggested that activities should not be discussed in detail if they were the concern of other agencies and UNEP was not directly involved, and proposed elimination of the achievement indicator information, since it could be derived from an examination of the stated strategies; instead, the cost information in the SWMTEP document should be related to the two-digit budget data contained in Fund documentation.

189. Several delegations, however, opposed the exclusion from the document of information on the activities of other agencies, which they felt to be important in view of the fact that UNEP's primary role was to co-ordinate and catalyze action. It was noted that the SWMTEP document was to be prepared in consultation with other bodies of the United Nations system, and would reflect their agreed contributions.

190. Several delegations also expressed concern regarding the format of the sample programme perspective document (UNEP/GC.8/iNF.2). It did not convey a perspective as such, but tended rather to deal with past activities, nor did it reflect the comprehensive approach currently envisaged by UNEP. It should also examine in greater depth the interrelationships between environment, development, resources and population, and in general should be more factual in presentation.

191. There was no unanimity regarding the purpose of the programme perspective document. Some delegations felt that it should be preambular in nature, containing a broadly-based analysis of environmental problems and prospects: in should be addressed to the general public at large, and should convey the flavour of world environmental concerns and their possible solutions. Some other delegations, on the other hand, were of the opinion that it should reflect the exigencies of programmatic arrangements and serve as a basis for policy guidelines; it should therefore form an integral part of the decision-making process of the Governing Council.

192. One delegation, while recognizing the difficulties mentioned above, said it was necessary to visualize a package of documents, of which the perspective document, the medium-term programme and the performance document were components. The perspective document would then be seen as describing prospective activities on the basis of progress made towards previously approved time-limited objectives for a given problem, and identifying specific functional areas to be assigned priority in the environmental programme. It would be submitted to the Governing Council every second year, and decisions taken on it would then provide the framework for the development of the medium-term programme for a six-year period. Ideally, the perspective document should not only be concerned with the mediumterm programme of the United Nations system, but should also contain information on the activities of other international organizations, such as IUCN.

193. There was no unanimity as to whether the programme perspective document should be formally submitted to the Council at the ninth or the tenth session. Several delegations said that ideally, the programme perspective document should precede SlqMTEP, although one argued that there should be no hard and fast rule to that effect. One representative suggested that UNEP should establish immediately a task force to revise the programme perspective document in consultation with appropriate agencies, and that a high-level advisory team should be assembled to work with the task force in defining the document's content and format.

194. The representative of UNESCO recalled that ACC had agreed to assist UNEP's initiative towards a system-wide medium-term environment programme as part of the over-all United Nations effort in programme planning. He stressed the ma nitude and difficulty of the tasks involved, particularly since it was difficult, and sometimes inappropriate, to distinguish activities related to environment from those dealing with various aspects of development, and urged that the matter not be crystallized at the present session of the Council, since considerable further debate on the issue was still needed in other forums. He further suggested that, while system-wide programming was a very desirable objective, it would not constitute a panacea for all difficulties in co-ordination in the field of the environment.

195. The Assistant Executive Director pointed out that although the task at hand was a difficult one, previous experience with regard to preparation of joint programming and thematic joint programming would prove useful. The secretariat did not intend to establish definitive and rigid categories. Once appropriate guidance was received from the Council, it intended to contact agencies and discuss with them how both the programme perspective document and the S@EP document should be prepared. Although an effort could be made to submit the perspective document to the ninth session, the secretariat would be subject to time pressures, particularly if sufficient time was to be allowed for those discussions.

196. Several delegations expressed concern that the programme document (UNEP/GC.8/5 and Corr.1) was not self-contained, but had to be read in conjunction with the corresponding document submitted to the Council at its s; seventh session (UNEP/GC.7/7 and Corr.1 and 3). The problem would be even worse at the ninth session, if the document submitted then had to be read in conjunction with the previous two. Some delegations complained that the present system of document symbols was complicated and did not lend itself to easy reference. However, one delegation pointed out that to change the coding of documentation might lead to further confusion.

197. One delegation suggested that a separate programme performance document might be unnecessary, since the kind of information required could be found in the programme perspective and medium-term programme documents.

198. One representative questioned the desirability of the large number of meetings and seminars mentioned in the two sample documents before the Committee, and suggested that their effectiveness should be evaluated in terms not only of the direct funding provided but also of the amount of time spent by the secretariat in organizing and attending them.

199. A number of delegations expressed concern at the fact that the addendum to the programme document (UNEP/GC.8/5/Add.1) had been distributed only during the session, leaving delegations insufficient time to study with sufficient attention those issues dealt with in it which required substantive decisions. The Assistant Executive Director said that the addelidum could not be issued earlier, as it covered developments during the two months immediately preceding the Council's session; some of the substantive issues it dealt with were the outcome of meetings requested by the Council at its seventh session, which because of the time required to prepare for them had had to be held during that period.