A - Introduction and general debate
79. Agenda item 7 was assigned to Sessional Committee I. The Committee had before it documents UNEP/GC/90 and Corr.1 and Add.1 and 2 and UNEP/GC/91. For an account of the organization of the Committee's work, see paragraph 15 above.
80. In a general introduction, the Chairman pointed out that item 7 dealt with the core of the activities of UNEP. Issues of particular importance included aspects of the proposed activities under human settlements, environment and development, oceans, energy, natural disasters and technical assistance. The Council should also give serious attention to the anticipated drop in expenditure on Fund programme activities in the period 1978-1981, especially to its implications for developing countries.
81. The Special Adviser to the Executive Director for Programme Matters drew attention to the new format of the programme document and invited comments and suggestions upon it. In particular, the secretariat would welcome comments on the integration of the three levels, the reordering of the sequence of functional tasks and priority subject areas and the level of detail used in the document and on the Executive Director's proposal for a selective treatment, involving a four-year cycle, of programme matters.
82. The Deputy Assistant Executive Director for the Bureau of Fund-'and Management explained that the proposals for the level of Fund resources (UNEP/GC/98) were those required to achieve the purposes of the programme; alterations in the proposed programme would have repercussions on the level of Fund support, and vice versa.
83. All speakers welcomed the new format of the programme document, which was described as readable and comprehensive and regarded as a significant advance upon equivalent reports submitted to previous sessions of the Governing Council; it was clear that the secretariat had sought to respond to the views of delegations at the fourth session and to the recommendations of the informal working group on documents established then. 7/ In particular, delegations welcomed the integration of the three levels, the presentation of major policy issues for the attention of the Council, and the reordering of the treatment so that functional tasks were given more prominence. However, one delegation said it would have been preferable to group the functional tasks together, and suggested that the report on Earthwatch should in future be included in the Executive Director's report on the state of the environment. Some speakers suggested that the views of Governments should be sought if the secretariat were considering further changes in the ordering or status of functional tasks and priority subject areas. The introduction of the UNEP/INFORMATION/- and UNEP/FUND/PROJECTS/- document series was considered helpful to Governments.
84. Some delegations complained that they had received the programme document rather too late to give it proper study, and many speakers saw the need for further improvements in its presentation. Suggestions included greater use of diagrams, a better presentation of the activities of the United Nations system so that the unique role of UNEP could be more clearly identified, a clear explanation as to why UNEP was involved in certain fields, and a fuller exposition of proposals relating to the Fund. A number of speakers ex-pressed reservations about annex III(suggested action by the Governing Council); they considered it too generalized, and suggested that it might not be possible to reflect all the Councils deliberations in an over-all decision.
85. One delegation made more far-reaching suggestions for further improving the quality of the programme document. It was important that the Council reappraise the substance and format of the programme document; the present document was too
detailed and gave too much emphasis to how the programme was being implemented and too little to what it was achieving. One reason was the attention given in previous years to the formulation of strategies, which, while appropriate at the time, should now be replaced by fully elaborated work plans. The plans, which should be prepared for each subsector of the programme, presented along with precisely stated objectives, and subject to annual review,, should contain a history of relevant expenditures, estimates of annual resource requirements related to the objectives and as far as possible, indications of the total resource commitment of United Nations agencies and others; the phases involved in implementing the plans should be made clear. The detail, for example about agency activities, could then be taken out of the programme document and in most cases placed in the UNEP/FUND/PROJECTS/- series, which would be useful as a means of keeping Governments informed of developments throughout the year. Such an approach would enable the Governing Council to focus on policy matters and evaluate performance, provide the secretariat with a useful management tool and help delegates explain the plans of UNEP in their own countries. However, it was recognized that presentation along such lines would entail a great deal of additional work for the secretariat, and it was suggested that an attempt might be made to make such a presentation on an experimental basis for a subsector of the programme.
86. While those proposals received a measure of support, not all speakers considered the programme document too detailed, and several asked for greater detail, possibly in conjunction with a separate summary of the document. One delegation stressed that the issue should really be one not of detail, but of clarity and understanding, and that account should be taken of countries'
differing capacities to absorb and evaluate information.
87.In the light of the foregoing discussion, the informal working group on documentation was reconvened. The group's report was commended by a number of delegations, which urged the Executive Director to take its recommendations into account in preparing documents for the Governing Council. In reply, the Special Adviser to the Executive Director on Programme Matters confirmed that the report would be closely examined by the secretariat and its recommendations followed as far as possible.
88. Several delegations sought clarification on the relationship between the goals for 1982, set forth in the Executive Director's introductory statement, and the activities in the programme, and one pointed out that the goals were in fact drawn from the programme. A few delegations considered that the role of Governments in participating in the execution of the programme should be given more attention, and others, pointing out that Governments looked to UNEP for advice arising out of programme activities, said that a more systematic effort was needed to identify countries' needs in relation to the programme and asked for more advisory publications. One delegation, while supporting the Executive Director's proposals for the selective treatment of programme subjects at the sixth and subsequent sessions of the Governing Council, said that arrangements should be made to discuss briefly also those subjects which were not chosen for in-depth review.
89. The representative of FAO explained that his organization was committed to supporting a massive increase in food production, within the framework of ecological limits and avoiding destructive methods of production. FAO therefore laid stress, for example, on evolving new crop varieties and on overcoming socioeconomic resistance to new methods of farming, and placed less emphasis on fertilizers and pesticides. Some 40 joint FAO/UNEP projects were under way; FAO was appreciative of the support given by UNEP, was ready to further that collaboration and offered UNEP the benefit of its experience in the field of food production and the environment.
90. During the course of the debate, the Committee noted with concern the serious flooding which had occurred in many parts of the host country, and expressed its sympathy to the people and Government of Kenya.
91. At the end of the general debate, the representative of the Government of Kenya announced that his Government had decided to ban all hunting forthwith, in order to control the menace of poaching and safeguard Kenya's wildlife. Delegates applauded the announcement.
92. The Committee agreed to include its recommendations regarding matters discussed in the general debate in the general draft decision on programme activities (see para. 274 below).
Action by the Governing Council
93. For the action by the Governing Council in this respect, see paragraph 275 below.