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IV - CO-ORDINATTON QUESTIONS

175. In considering agenda item 5 at the 7th plenary meeting of the session, delegations had before them documents UNEP/GC.9/4 and Adds.1-3, Add.3/Corr.1 and Supplement, Adds.4 and 5 and Add.5/Corr.l. A large number of delegations had chosen to address the item of co-ordination during their presentations in the general debate: their views are, however, reflected in the present chapter.

176. Many delegations commended the preparations made by the secretariat for the development of the system-wide medium-term environment programme 1984-1989. A number of the delegations welcomed the efforts made to enlist the co-operation of other United Nations organizations, as well as the positive response of those organizations to the relevant decisions and resolutions of the Governing Council, the Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly, as testified to by the report of the Administrative Committee on Co-ordination to the Governing Council. Other delegations, however, were not fully convinced that the co-ordination and co-operation with other parts of the United Nations system was as fruitful and effective as it should be. They stressed the need for active co-operation between UNEP and the other parts of the United Nations system, and urged Governments to instruct their delegations to the relevant governing bodies accordingly. Several delegations, stressing that the system-wide programme would lead to a serious examination of how UNEP fulfilled its coordinating and catalytic role within the United Nations system, requested the Executive Director to analyse the ways in which other United Nations organizations were planning to implement the provisions of the system-wide programme relevant to their own mandates, as well as the extent to which decisions of the UNEP Governing Council had had a bearing on the programmes of those organizations, and to report on the results of those analyses to the Council at its tenth session.

177. Some delegations, while joining others in commending the structure and content of the proposed system-wide programme, felt that, in view of the limited financial resources that would be available to carry it out, a clear assessment was needed of the priorities for action, together with a clear distribution of responsibilities between UNEP and the other relevant bodies of the United Nations system. The fact ,that many United Nations organizations were already including environmental considerations as an integral part of their programmes should be capitalized upon.

178. One delegation noted that the system-wide medium-term environment programme would not be effectively implemented unless sufficient funds were made available to the United Nations system as a whole.

179. Many delegations referred to the perspective document as a document of prime importance. They supported the structure suggested by ACC and the Executive Director and agreed that UNEP should endeavor to identify, for the council session of a special character, only the shared perceptions of the world community regarding environmental issues of the future; the whole document should be ready in 1984. One delegation referred to the perspective document as a natural political foundation for the system-wide medium-term environment programme, and a major platform for introducing environmental considerations in the review of the new international development strategy; in preparing the document full use should be made of the results of the work of the United Nations system on interrelationships between people, resources, environment and development. Another delegation felt that the preparation of the perspective document could help to determine the environmental trends to be addressed in the future, while another emphasized that it could play an important role in strengthening the co-ordination of environmental programmes of the United Nations system.

180. Several delegations suggested ways in which the preparatory process for the development of the full perspective document could be carried out in order to ensure full involvement of Governments, regional organizations, the scientific community and the United Nations system; specific proposals were the convening by the General Assembly of an intergovernmental Preparatory Committee and the establishment of an independent commission of high-level experts. One delegation, i however, stated that it was not in favor of a new intergovernmental mechanism of outside the framework of the Governing Council.

181. Several delegations strongly appealed to the Executive Director to take into consideration the good work accomplished by the regional economic commissions under the present arrangements, by which UNEP was supporting environmental co-ordination units in the secretariats of four of the commissions, and urged the Executive Director to consider not withdrawing the support of UNEP until the commissions could stand on their own in that respect. One delegation stressed that the regional commissions were in a unique position to assist developing countries tackling problems of environmental protection which, for those countries, touched at the very roots of human welfare. Some delegations referred with satisfaction to the present co-operation between UNEP and ECE, particularly in the follow-up of the conclusions of the 1979 High-level Meeting on Protection of the Environment.

182. A number of delegations expressed their appreciation of the presentation made by the Executive Director of Habitat on the co-operation between his organization and UNEP, and stressed the need for continuation and expansion of that co-operation. One delegation emphasized that such co-operation should take place first and foremost at the working level, questioned the viability, in cost/benefit terms, of the joint bureau meetings, and urged the Executive Director to collaborate with the Executive Director of Habitat in studying the matter. Another delegation suggested that UNEP and Habitat should be encouraged to promote further research into and development of the ecosystems approach to human settlements.

183. The representative of PAO referred to the existence, within his organization, of the interdepartmental Working Group on Natural Resources and Environment, and highlighted some of the most important areas of co-operation between PAO and other United Nations organizations, including UNEP, in the field of environment. FAO would continue to contribute to the task of harmonizing environmental programmes of the United Nations system, and intended to play fully its role in that respect.

184. The representative of UNESCO, speaking also on behalf of ILO, stressed the importance of the role of UNEP in the over-all co-ordination and stimulation of environmental activities within the United Nations system. He called for greater concentration of UNEP resources on co-operative projects with the United Nations organizations, and said UNEP should avoid a dissipation of efforts or competition with others. UNESCO and ILO were willing to contribute to the further development of a system-wide programme in which their environmental activities would find be an appropriate place. From UNESCO's point of view, the evaluation of the catalytic role of UNEP would undoubtedly prove positive.

185. Summarizing the views of the Council, the Executive Director noted that delegations had appreciated the report of ACC and that most of them entertained very positive expectations that the further development of the system-wide programme would lead to greater unification of programmes throughout the United Nations system. Addressing the comments made by some delegations that the influence of UNEP on the rest of the United Nations system was not pervasive enough, he recalled that UNEP enjoyed the support and collaboration of other United Nations organizations, expressed at the highest level through ACC, and said that the present level of co-operation would never have been reached without mutual understanding. From 1984, most organizations of the system would embark on common cycles of medium-term planning and programme budgeting, thus greatly facilitating the task of harmonizing programmes; he expected that those agencies which co-operated with UNEP in the implementation of the environment programme would thus be able to announce their commitments for the first biennial budget period of the medium-term programme period. UNEP should continue to play its triple role within the United Nations system: to co-operate with other United Nations organizations, exercising influence through its intellectual inputs and catalytic money from the Environment Fund; to co-ordinate, which was the mandate given to UNEP by the General Assembly; and to execute in answer to specific demands of the Governing Council such projects as GEMS, INFOTERRA, and IRPTC.

186. The perspective document had received wide support from the Council. Delegations had largely agreed to his proposals on the structure of the document, and with his view that only the first part of it, namely the presentation of the shared perceptions of the world community and the possible means of dealing with them, would be presented to the Governing Council in 1982, as a part of the document on the future trends of international environmental efforts. Essentially, three proposals had been made for the process of preparation of the other two parts of the document: an intergovernmental process supported by an independent commission, a purely independent process, and no further development of the document. He explained in some detail the nature and mode of financing of an expert independent commission, stressing in particular that it was essentially financed by individual Governments or private institutions. He expected that the Council would come up with definite recommendations before the end of the session, having weighed carefully the financial and administrative implications of the different proposals under consideration.

187. He noted the great interest expressed by several delegations in continued co-operation between UNEP and the regional commissions and assured the Council that his decision on continued support to the environmental co-ordination units within those commissions, where such arrangements existed, would be based on a thorough evaluation of the available financial resources and of the capacity of the commissions to take over the resonsibilities involved.

Action by the Governing Council

188. At the 9th meeting of the session, on 26 May, the Governing Council adopted by consensus, a draft decision on co-ordination questions submitted by the Bureau (UNEP/GC.9/L.16) (see annex 1, decision 9/3).