B - Environment programme, 1980-1983
207. In his introductory statement, the Assistant Executive Director said the secretariat would welcome comments on both the format and the content of the two new documents before the committee, the programme performance report (UNEP/GC.5 and Corr.1 and Add.5) and the medium-term plan (UNEP/GC.9/6 and Corr. 1-3), and particularly on the priorities set out in the plan. He also drew attention to the listof priority topics for environmental assessment over the next few years contained in the in-depth review of Earthwatch and expanded on in document uNEP/GC. 9/INF. 1.
208. There was general agreement among delegations that in format and presentation, the programme performance report and the medium-term plan, were succinct, informative, logical and a great improvement over previous years' documentation. Two delegations observed that the documents were comprehensive and one felt that more time for debate on them would have been useful. Another delegation found discrepancies between individual sections of the two documents, and suggested that infuture, the retrospective and prospective reports on the programme should be sequentially matched. Other comments were that in the programme performance report, greater effort should be made to relate progress to specific objectives; that without increasing the volume of the document, there should be less administrative accounts of activities and meetings, and more reference to achievements, consequences and difficulties encountered, in order to permit establishment of priorities for further action; that it would be helpful to have the,budget of both current and the past years reproduced together; and that a list of UNEP publications which had appeared during the previous year should be annexed to the document to help raise the low information profile of the environment programme.
209. With respect to the medium-term plan, several delegations felt that it would be helpful to include budgetary breakdowns for each element of the strategies, and to indicate more clearly what should be the operational and financial roles of the various main actors. Such details would be helpful if priorities had to be set in order to temper programming enthusiasm with financial realism. Another delegation reiterated that subjects for assessment should be chosen on the basis of their Ir@vance -to--,global problems, -of their urgency- and- i@t-anc-@.-and- of theopportunities for regional co-operation and training they provided. Consequent.Eg, arid lands, desertification, forests and oceans should be general areas of priority concern for Earthwatch. One delegation noted that, according to paragraph 4 of the medium-term plan, the objectives therein were in some cases those approved by the Governing Council. In its view, the Governing Council had indeed approved a series of objectives, strategies, concentration areas and goals for 1982, so as to guide the work of the envirorunent programme. Therefore it was not clear why new objectives and strategies had been introduced in the document. The changes should be put forward for the approval of the Governing Council.
2. En-viroranental assessment
210. Many delegations expressed the view that Earthwatch was the corner-stone of the environment programme, since there could be no effective environmental management without assessment, and that no other agency could perform assessment tasks in the way that UNEP should. One delegation, expressing confidence that the Council would agree to the Executive Director's suggestion (UNEP/GC.9/6, para. 10) that the future orientation of the programme should reflect the above premise, urged him to make sufficient resources available for Earthwatch to discharge such a role effectively.
211. Two delegations welcomed the creation of a new budget subline covering research and assessment, since effective research programmes were essential to the success of any assessment effort.
212. A few delegations emphasized that Earthwatch should avoid dispersal of effort and resources and concentrate on a few activities which would be likely to produce concrete results. There was general agreement on the topics for environmental assessment listed in the in-depth review of Earthwatch and in paragraph 18 of the programme performance report and those reflected in the medium-term plan and document UNEP/GC.9/INF.l. A number of delegations commented on the in-depth review as a comprehensive compendium of assessment activities which would be helpful in structuring future activities.
213. Two delegations, noting that activities within Earthwatch were generally oriented to the needs of the more developed countries, which had the capacity to generate, analyse and utilize environmental information, said that the various components of Earthwatch must be made more sensitive to the needs and capacities of developing countries which, since sophisticated and expensive expertise and manpower were often required, might initially have to give environmental assessment low priority.
214. One delegation welcomed the working co-operation between UNEP and the specialized agencies within the Earthwatch programme. The representatives of PAO, UNESCO and WMO underscored that sentiment, making particular reference to joint projects within GEMS (see paras. 221 and 222).
(a) Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS)
215. Delegations expressed general satisfaction with all of the projects within the main subdivisions of GEMS - renewable natural resources, pollution (including long-range transport of pollutants) and climate. One delegation observed that without the sort of data generated by the GEMS monitoring network, environmental assessment could not be done effectively: the achievement indicators mentioned in the medium-term plan, e.g., new methodologies, evaluations of monitoring systems and production of assessment statements in particular, indicated the role of GEMS in environmental assessment. Two delegations stated that their countries had found the recently published UNEP/FAO/UNESCO soils degradation assessment methodology of particular value.
216. One delegation expressed the view that activities within GEMS tended to be isolated from those of other organizations: the memorandum of understanding between UNEP and CHEA should result in better co-ordination of some GEMS activities. Another delegation remarked that certain UNEP/FAO/WHO activities should draw on the experience of the chemical programme of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and that greater harmonization between such programmes would be beneficial. In contrast, the representatives of a number of agencies expressed considerable satisfaction with the current degree of co-ordination, and one delegation urged that the secretariat continue its support of the UNEP/ECE European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme within GEMS.
217. Some delegations felt that the progress reported within GEMS was mainly in local and regional activities. The forthcoming international symposium on integrated monitoring (Tbilisi, October 1981) should result in proposals to consolidate certain GEMS activities into a truly global effort based on a number of scientific activities.
218. one delegation, supported by another, emphasized the need to include monitoring of oceans within GEMS, thereby expanding ocean monitoring to encompass more than merely regional concerns. The monitoring of oceans could, for example, fall under the aegis of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP), with a coordinating group as had been established for the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP).
219. The representative of Kenya said that the background BAPMON station on Mount Kenya had been partially equipped and his Government was anxious to obtain the necessary resources to allow the station to become fully operational.
220. The representative of FAO said that the tropical forest cover monitoring project had been completed, and the tropical forest resources assessment was in the press. Those two successful joint UNEP/FAO projects were not static exercises, however, and required the follow-up indicated in the medium-term plan.
221. The representative of UNESCO indicated his organization's satisfaction at the close co-operation between the GEMS programme activity centre and relevant agencies in the development of joint activities in the field of renewable natural resources. He observed that the water quality monitoring component of GEMS should hot be restricted to drinking water, and agreed with a previous speaker that ocean monitoring activities should be considered for a place within GEMS.
222. The representative of ECA pointed out that the GEMS projects in the field of renewable natural resources had been conducted initially in Africa. in that respect, one delegation expressed the hope that monitoring activities in rangeland areas would spread to other regions as well.
(b) International Referral System (INFOTERRA)
223. Widespread satisfaction was expressed with the progress achieved within INFOTERRA, which some delegations considered to be among the most important of UNEP's activities. One delegation referred to the increased use rate, while another noted that the network now had over 8,500 sources. Another delegation observed that the INFOTERRA network could adapt easily to different levels of services, and most speakers agreed that top priority should be given to information services. One delegation suggested that the attributes list should be revised. Another queried the over-all cost-effectiveness of the system, and a third suggested a gradual expansion in numbers of sources and users.
224. There was virtually unanimous support of the recommendations made in the evaluation report. Some delegations endorsed all the recommendations, whereas one asked if they were all necessary. Most delegations supported increased development of national focal points, and several stated that the focal points might need the assistance of the programme activity centre in information or in providing training for their staff. Some reservations were expressed about the additional burden which the recommendations, if put into effect, would place on national focal points, and one delegation felt that in view of the financial constraints, the focal points should not take on any additional work. Different approaches to national focal-point operations were mentioned: one delegation announced that its focal point was about to be computerized, while another said that its focal point had increased its activities through manual searches. Two delegations from developed countries stated that their Governments could no longer subsidize the increasing costs of a national directory, while another said that its national focal point was seeking more funds from the Government.
225. Several delegations advocated increased support for the INFOTERRA Programme Activity Centre to enable it to conform to the recommendations of the evaluation report, especially, as one delegation put it, to strengthen communications, to provide substantive information, and to increase promotional efforts. There was general support for the recommendation that INFOTERRA should move beyond referral into the provision of substantive information, although several delegations, while agreeing with the ultimate usefulness of such a move, suggested that it might prove too expensive. One cautioned that INFOTERRA should not become a document delivery system. Another urged closer co-ordination between the INFOTERRA system and existing information systems within the United Nations. A third suggested that system expansion should not be forced from the centre, and should,be in step with the pace of national focal-point development. In the light of the recommendations for increased funding, one delegation wondered if INFOTERRA would still be considered worth while if no additional funds were available. Another emphasized that the future strategy should be realistic.
226. The representative of UNESCO stated that in line with the evaluation made within the World Information System for Science and Technology (UNISIST), UNESCO would be prepared, in co-operation with UNEP, to undertake a study to ascertain whether the national focal points could realistically move beyond referral.
227. The Assistant Executive Director said it was estimated that the transition from referral to provision of information would require an additional $400,000 per annum, and that a strengthening of national focal points would also require more money.
(c) International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC)
228. IRPTC was seen as an important component of Earthwatch which should continue to receive sufficient resources to strengthen its information collection and dissemination activities. Many delegations commended IRPTC on the progress made, and expressed confidence that the Register would soon become operational.
229. Several delegations commended IRPTC for its working relationships with national correspondents, and highlighted the need for further training and assistance to correspondents in developing countries. The importance of IRPTC assistance in establishing national registers of potentially toxic chemicals was also stressed, and some delegations observed that IRPTC had a very important role to play in supplying information on hazardous chemicals being exported to developing countries. One delegation called attention to the need for co-operation with relevant international programmes, particularly the International Programme on Chemical Safety.
230. The concept of network arrangements for collection and dissemination of data on chemicals was considered important, and the need for Governments, international organizations and industries to participate actively in such networks with IRPTC was pointed out.
231. One delegation commended IRPTC on its successful efforts to implement Governing Council decision 8/8 of 29 April 1980 on transboundary transport and 'disposal of hazardous wastes.
(d) Outer limits
232. Numberous delegations said that the current and proposed activities relating to climatic changes and carbon dioxide (CO2) merited high priority, and expressed the hope that rapid progress would be achieved in co-operation with the other organizations involved. Several delegations and agencies noted the considerable complexity and interrelationship of the components of the World Climate Programme (WCP) and pointed to the need for close co-ordination in planning and implementation to ensure that no component lagged behind the others. One delegation and the representative from MO suggested that the UNEP secretariat for the World Climate Impact Studies Programme (WCIP) should be located at Geneva together with the WCP secretariat. Several delegations expressed satisfaction with the establishment of the WCIP Scientific Advisory Committee and with the specific activities envisaged in the medium-term plan.
233. A number of delegations said that the C02 issue should be given priority within WCIP. One delegation cautioned that C02 research was not yet complete and that predictions of climate change from projected levels Of C02 could not yet be made with confidence. C02 was seen as a potentially divisive issue, and another delegation proposed that UNEP, WMO and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) establish a standing body to provide guidance and co-ordination. The representative of Austria said his country was willing to host the proposed conference on C02 scheduled for the second half of 1982, or any other forthcoming UNEP/WMO/ICSU activity in the field.
234. Some delegations highlighted the relationship between climate and agriculture. The representative of UNESCO noted the close association of WCP with FAO and UNESCO activities, and observed that climate affected natural ecosystems as well as agriculture.
235. Although several delegations as well as the representative of MO supported UNEP's supportive involvement in weather modification, they did not assign it high priority. One delegation, however, noted the potential importance-of weather modification in alleviating drought, and urged continued support of the precipitation enhancement project.
236. There was general support for the activities concerning assessment and protection of the ozone layer. Delegations welcomed the co-operation between members of the Co-ordinating Committee on the Ozone Layer and the resultant co-ordination of international efforts. One delegation called for increased activity on the part of the Committee, while another stated that its reports were a f ine example of environmental assessment and commended the Executive Director on their production.
237. The representative of the European Economic Community, recalling the measures taken to limit production of chlorofluorocarbons, noted the need for follow-up to Governing Council decision 8/7 B of 29 April 1980. In that connexion, one delegation expressed concern that developed countries, while enacting regulatory measures at home, were simultaneously exporting chemicals that could affect the ozone layer.
238. one delegation said that social outer limits, as a relatively new field, should be given priority only if funds permitted. The representative of UNESCO said that it was an ill-defined but potentially important subject: the activities of a number of agencies, including UNESCO, should be considered when defining a clear programe in the area.
(e) Environmental data
239. Several delegations emphasized the essential role of environmental information, including environmental statistics, in the promotion of optimal sustainable development through the inclusion of both environmental assessment and environmental management. A number of delegations referred to the importance of UNEP's support for work on the development of a framework for environmental statistics, and to the desirability of that support being continued. The programme in question should concentrate especially on practical aspects of collating and interpreting data, and a computerized data base should be developed at a relatively slower pace.
240. One delegation reported on the progress of a pilot country stud on environmental statistics being conducted as a joint venture with UNEP, with the ultimate intention of including training of statisticians.
3. En roranenta
(a) Envionmental aspects of htiman settlements planning and health of people and of tle environment
(i) Environmental aspects of human settlements olanninq
241. While stressing the importance of human settlements in the environment programme, some delegations suggested that UNEP should reassess its commitments in the area in view of the fact that UNCHS (Habitat) was now fully operational and should take a leading role in that respect.
242. One delegation, however, suggested that further reduction in the allocation to the area, in which little had been achieved in the past year, might jeopardize the ability of the programme to play a vital role in a field where concerted action was still urgently needed in view of the fact that millions of people, especially in developing countries, still lived in enviroranentally.degraded conditions.
243. Other delegations stressed that the programme should place equal stress on management as well as planning aspects of human settlements, and that a more cost-effective mechanism should be developed for coordinated activities between UNEP and UNCHS (Habitat)..
244. The representative of UNESCO said that most of the subjects covered under environmental management were of direct concern to UNESCO. He underlined the value of the ecosystem approach to the study of the planning and management of urban systems developed under the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.
245. The representative of the Executive Director suggested that it would be inconsistent to reduce the budgetary allocation to human settlements while at the same time seeking to strengthen the close working relationships between UNEP and UNCHS (Habitat).
(ii) Human and environmental health
246. most delegations supported the programme of activities for the biennium 1982-1983, stressing that UNEP should continue to play its coordinating role, and should maintain and strengthen its close working relationship with WHO. Two delegations advocated emphasis on the provision of hygienic water supply, while some agreed that, since the role of UNEP in the area should be strictly catalytic, its name should not appear in the "main actors" column of the medium-term plan.
247. The objectives of the pest management programmes were supported, and the need to avoid overlaps was noted. It was generally agreed that the budget for the area should not be reduced, and one delegation suggested that the scope of the programme should be expanded to deal with more crops that the three currently covered.
248. Some delegations underlined the fundamental importance of the WHO/ILO/UNEP International Programme on Chemical Safety, which together with IRPTC and GEMS formed part of the global long-term programme environmental assessment.
249. The representative of WHO said that during the last year, encouraging progress had been made in the development of the International Programme on Chemical Safety, which was concentrating on the production of health criteria relating to a priority group of industrial consumer chemicals, methodological aspects of testing and evaluation, and the training of manpower in all aspects of toxicology and associated disciplines. Other areas of mutual concern to UNEP and WHO on which collaboration was desirable were the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, including the revision of international drinking water quality guidelines, with a separate volume covering the needs of the least-developed countries; emergency planning and response to chemical accidents; management of toxic wastes; chemical safety and the protection of workers; food additives and pesticides; the relationship between environmental management and human health and well-being; health related monitoring; and the effect of indoor climate on human health. WHO welcomed the memorandum of understanding between UNEP, FAO and WHO on the prevention of water-borne and associated diseases in agricultural development.
250. The representative of ILO described the activities of the International Programme for the Improvement of working Conditions and The Working Environment, in which UNEP should continue to play a coordinating role. ILO, while retaining the central role along with WHO, would continue to collaborate with UNEP in the
implementation of the activities envisaged in the medium-term plan. Two delegations said that the role of UNEP in activities relating to the working environment should remain purely catalytic.
(b) Terrestrial ecosystems
(i) Arid and semi-arid ecosystems and desertification
251. The Director of the United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office (UNSO) gave a detailed account of UNSO's work methods, outlined the Office's areas of concentration in the biennium 1982-1983, and appealed for intensification of interagency co-operation. General support was expressed for the work of UNSO, which one delegation suggested be extended to cover Benin in addition to the present 18 countries.
252. The Committee expressed appreciation of the progress made in the follow-up to the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Desertification, and a number of delegations outlined their countries' bilateral and multilateral contributions to the implementation of the Plan and reiterated their Governments' intention to continue providing such support. Several delegations particularly commended the way desertification was being combated in the Sudano-Sahelian region, through UNSO. Many delegations emphasized the need for regional co-operation in research and training in desertification control, and urged UNEP to continue support for such activities in conjunction with UNSO, other United Nations organizations and Governments.
253. One delegation expressed concern over the pace of desertification control efforts and stressed the need for adequate steps to facilitate progress so that desertification could be brought under control before it got out of hand. Another said that, pending the filling of the staff vacancies in the Desertification Branch - which should be done as a matter of urgency - priorities for action should be modified in the light of staff availability. Two delegations stressed that efforts to combat desertification should be made primarily at the national level, with bilateral or multilateral support, and many emphasized the need for mobilization of more resources in developing countries.
254. One delegation reiterated its opposition to the Special Account to Combat Desertification, on the grounds that all available resources should be channelled through existing funding mechanisms; some other delegations expressed support for the Special Account.
255. One delegation observed that the objectives of the medium-term plan placed too much emphasis on monitoring, mapping and consultancies, and urged that more practical approaches should be adopted. Another advised that new national or regional desertification monitoring systems should @ established only after regional meetings to identify what needed to be done and what indicators ought to be monitored. In the field of monitoring, as well as the protection of flora and fauna, UNEP should support the establishment of biosphere reserves in arid and semi-arid zones. As part of the effort to establish an internationally accepted methodology for assessment and mapping of desertification, the joint FAO/UNEP mapping methodology project should be reviewed, in the light of the very high cost of the preliminary activity and the questionable utility of A map scaled at 1.5 million. In addition, an inventory on desertification control activities of Governments should be compiled, published and kept up to date. It would also be necessary to support the collection and dissemination of data at the regional level; network for Mediterranean-climate countries. The Executive Director should not wait until 1985 before assessing progress in the implementation of the Plan of Action; that task should'be given high priority since it would enable Governments and international organizations to plan projects and allocate staff more realistically.
256. In reply, the representative of the Executive Director said that it was planned to produce desertification maps on a larger scale, and that 1985 was the earliest possible time for the stock-taking exercise, since by then all elements of the desertification control programme would be moving forward together.
257. The representative of UNESCO indicated that the MAB programme , an interdisciplinary problem-oriented research and training programme, was being implemented successfully and would be reviewed and further developed by a conference-exhibit to be held in September 1981. Where arid lands and desertification were concerned, the network of integrated pilot and demonstration projects developed under MAB - including the Integrated Project on Arid Lands in Kenya and Tunisia - constituted a useful response to General Assembly resolution 35/73, which called for research and training in desertification control, and they should therefore receive further support.
258. The representative of ECA said that the Commission had been active in desertification control ever since the United Nations Conference on Desertification. Its work programme included studies on the mapping of ground-water resources in arid areas, as well as co-operation with UNESCO and PAO in the organization of training programmes on desertification control.
259. The representative of the European Economic Community announced that he would make available a list of the desertification control projects the Community was financing.
(ii) Tropical woodlands and forest ecosystems
260. Delegations noted the growing recognition that tropical deforestation was at the centre of a complex of immediate, large-scale human problems of a global nature., The flooding, loss of cropland, and growing scarcity of fuelwood caused by loss of forests had high social and economic costs, and a concerted international attack on the problei of deforestation, involving considerable financial resources, was therefore essential.
261. Several delegations expressed support for the recommendations of the Expert Meeting on Tropical Forests held at Nairobi in 1980, and several others welcomed the proposed second such. meeting.- -.qome delegation%,.-&tre,-Q-QeA that the recommendations of the first expert meeting, which provided a thorough and sound basis for developing an integrated international plan of action, also emphasized the urgency of countries with tropical forests adopting sound forest management practices. It was proposed that, to enable it to determine whether additional funds were required, the second meeting should draw on the results of the ongoing UNCTAD/FAO study on international financing mechanisms, and several delegations suggested that the meeting should, inter alia, give careful study to the problem of illegal felling of trees, and the need to evolve a land-use pattern which integrated agriculture with forestry and thus reduced undue pressure on tropical forest lands.
262. Two delegations stressed the needs Owing to the great dependence of rura populations on ffirewood as a source of fuel, to involve people in afforestation measures at grassroots level, avoiding undue emphasis on the role of GovernmeGovernments and large organizations. They also stressed the importance of conservation and wise management of forests, and the advantages in afforestation of dual-purpose tree species such as fruit trees or acacia. One of them stressed in addition the importance of a marketing system for forest by-products which would assure producing countries of equitable financial returns on their products, and emphasized that training in tropical forest management should to the extent possible be conducted in the problem areas. One delegation requested that appropriate attention be given to tropical woodlands, as well as to the forests of the humid tropics.
263. One delegation welcomed the progress in the establishment of the Regional Centre for Information and Scientific Documentation on Tropical Ecology at Yaounde, and requested UNEP to consider the establishment of a similar centre for the East African region.
264. Two delegations said that they could not accept the general objectives on tropical forests, since they had not been approved by the Governing Council, which must first decide on the objectives before formulating a plan of action.
Furthermore, the elements of the strategy could only be developed in consultation and close co-ordination with the countries concerned. As formulated, the programme on tropical forests would have implications for sovereignty, national priorities and regional arrangements, and thus went beyond technical and scientific co-operation. Other delegations called the Councills attention to the fact that the programme should take into account and be carried out in line with the agreements or conventions in force on the matter, and should fully reflect,the specific needs of the countries in which tropical forests were located.
265. The representative of FAO said his organization's activities, both under the regular programme and in field projects, fully respected the wishes of the States concerned. That principle would be respected in FAO's co-operation with UNEP in the follow-up to the first Expert Group Meeting on Tropical Forests.
266. The representative of UNESCO said that UNESCO would co-operate in the proposed second expert meeting, and stressed that the MAB network of UNEP-supported integrated pilot projects on tropical forest ecosystems was developing satisfactorily, and should be continued and extended to other countries.
267. The representative of the Executive Director assured the Committee that any specific suggestions by Governments would be given the fullest attention, and that future, like past, activities would be conducted in line with-the wishes of the countries concerned.
(iii) Mountain, island, coastal and other
268. The Committee expressed its general appreciation of the objectives and strategies. Many delegations requested UNEP to co-operate closely with the MAB programme in their work on them. Another, noting the interrelatedness of elements under the subprogramme with other parts of the programme, said that the potential for avoiding duplication existed, and UNEP should make a careful reassessment with a view to effecting financial savings. Some delegations, while supporting the level of funding for the period 1982-1983, noted that in some cases, activities under the regional seas and other programmes were relevant to problems dealt with under budget subline 1105., and suggested that it might be appropriate to review the relevant allocations in two to three years' time. Another specifically recommended that UNEP and IUCN should initiate mutual discussions in order to avoid duplication of effort and to establish a plan for an international wetlands strategy. It was essential that structure and function of wetlands be emphasized during the establishment of that plan.
269. One delegation wondered, in the absence of a clear indication, what the role of Governments would be in the promotion of intergovernmental agreements to establish and protect areas representing unique ecosystems of international significance; and how these areas would be determined.
270. The representative of UNESCO said that mountain, island and coastal ecosystems should not be neglected; in particular, a state of knowledge report on coastal ecosystems should be prepared.
271. Many delegations strongly supported UNEP's efforts to elaborate an internationally acceptable world soils policy and soil classification, in response to Governing Council decision 8/10, and said they should continue. One delegation emphasized that technology transfer to developing countries was contingent upon an internationally recognized system of soil classification, and called attention to the need to expand and accelerate efforts to characterize soils in intertropical areas as the basis of a classification system for such soils; national activities were important sources of data and ideas on soils and soil management, and scientists from developing countries should therefore be involved in all activities pertaining to soils classification.
272. Another delegation commended the secretariat's intention to promote integrated soil management and protection and called for studies of key issues in that connexion. Many delegations stressed the need for an integrated approach to soil and water management.
273. The representative of FAO stressed the long-standing involvement of FAO in assisting developing countries in the field of land and water development, including the conservation, socioeconomic and legal aspects, and underlined his organization's co-operation with UNEP, UNESCO and other United Nations organizations in relation to soils, with particular emphasis on its part in the development of world soils policy.(v) Water
274. Many delegations stressed the importance of quality, as well as quantity, in water supply, and welcomed the co-operation among United Nations organizations in that respect. One delegation underlined the efforts of the European Economic Community in relation to water quality and called for more concerted co-operation efforts, on a bilateral and multilateral basis, in water-related activities. Another said that implementation of demonstration projects in selected river basins on.integrated approaches and methods for the conservation and utilization of water resources should be given priority, while others emphasized that water-related activities should provide concrete assistance to developing countries through practical and well chosen programme elements, one suggested example of which was assistance in defining economic methods of ground-water defluoridation. The role of training in the field of water management was stressed.
275. One delegation wondered if the programme on water took full account of the findings of the 1981 state of the environment report, which described ground water as "a highly misunderstood resource', and accordingly expressed some reservations regarding the activities proposed for 1982-1983.
276. One delegation, while appreciating the role UNEP and other organizations were playing in the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, warned that developing countries needed more assistance if they were to meet the target of providing clean drinking water for all by the year 1990.
277. The representative of UNESCO described the evolution of the International Hydrological Programme towards problem-oriented research and training activities, and mentioned the international conference on hydrology and rational management of water resources which was to take place in 1981.
278. The representative of the Environment Liaison Centre expressed support for the water programme. He noted that information on the environmental impact of large dams had never been sufficiently disseminated, and drew attention to the existence of guidelines on the impact of man-made lakes and on large dams and the environment.
(vi) Genetic resources
279. Many delegations welcomed the programme on genetic resources, although one, while supporting the objectives, strategies and activities, noted the absence of genetic monitoring of humans in polluted environments, and offered the support of scientists and data from its country in such work. Another, noting the need for preservation of the rich diversity of genetic resources, expressed concern that future plans for their protection might not be adequate in the light of the significant increases in human populations and their impact on the environment. The delegation reiterated its support for conservation measures for forest genetic resources and increased research into a methodology for conserving animal genetic resources, and drew attention to the need to preserve crop breeding material and promote, through an international agreement, accessibility to stored crop plant genetic material. Collaboration between UNEP, WHO, IIA), UNESCO and FAO must be directed to safety aspects of genetic manipulation and in particular those of DNA recombination. An objective evaluation of the risks involved, as well as an internationally guaranteed framework for the safe development-of such techniques, were essential.
(vii) Wildlife and Protected areas
280. The work on the implementation of the World Conservation Strategy was widely praised, and several delegations reported national activities to that end. One delegation noted that with the launching of the Strategy, the new concept of development without adverse environmental impact was becoming widely accepted, called for rapid implementation of the Strategy at both national And international levels, and urged UNEP to support the efforts of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund in that respect. Another delegation felt that the implementation of the Strategy would afford a dynamic tool for promoting balanced development and its integration with environmental concerns. The representative of UNESCO referred to the successful development of activities in applied microbiology with the support of UNEP.
281. Several delegations expressed concern that UNEP had made no provision for financial support to the interim secretariat for the Convention on Preservation of Wetlands of International Importance, Especially as Waterfowl Habitat, and indicated their Goverranents' willingness to contribute towards the secretariat, while noting the need for UNEP support during the interim period. Some delegations proposed that higher priority should be given to wetland conservation than to support for international conferences on national parks and other protected areas and related publications. UNEP was requested to continue, on a temporary basis, providing support for the Special Fund of the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
282. The representative of EEC stressed the importance of the decisions taken at the third meeting of Washington Convention in Delhi, 1981, particularly that relating to whales, concerning which EEC itself had adopted legislation whereby, from I January 1982, a ban would be imposed on all imports, for commercial purposes, of main whale products. He requested UNEP to play its catalytic role in ensuring that the decision was taken into account in the future deliberations of the International whaling Commission. In becoming a party to the Bonn Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, EEC would contribute towards the conclusion of regional agreements, as envisaged in that Convention. In order to ensure implementation of those and other conventions, however, adequate technical training and management facilities were essential, and EEC was ready to consider supporting related projects submitted to it for assistance.
283. The representative of UNESCO welcomed the improvement in the effectiveness of the Ecosystems Conservation Group, and underlined the importance of further development of the network of biosphere reserves.
(c) Environment and development
(i) Integrated approach and environmentally sound and appropriate technology
284. Most delegations endorsed the medium-term plan for the environment and development sector, and welcomed UNEP's efforts to promote the integration of development and environmental management. A number, noting the endorsement by several international development agencies of the guidelines for the proper integration of environmental management concerns into development planning, called on UNEP to develop its initiative further, and to monitor adherence to the guidelines. Some delegations expressed a degree of unease about the inclusion under environment and development (to which a budget line had been allocated) , of projects which were relevant to, or even an integral part of, projects in other parts of the programme, under budget lines for such subject areas as energy, oceans, terrestrial ecosystems and human settlements (environmental aspects) . There might consequently be some danger of UNEP not maximizing its efforts in the major areas of the environment within which development plans were being promoted, especially in developing countries285. One delegation said that the medium-term plan should be more responsive to the needs of developing countries, while several suggested that the objectives and strategies could be reorganized to avoid overlapping, and one suggested that the assessment of basic needs in relation to outer limits should form part of the integrated approach. It was also suggested that the training of economists and planners under "Environmental education and training' should be related to the training component under environment and development. One delegation pointed out that the sections on environment and development and environmental management had been fused and a new objective formulated which was more limited than those previously approved by the Governing Council, and noted the elimination of the concept of ecodevelopment - which had been introduced by UNEP - as well as the projects on environment and development in Kenya and Venezuela. In its opinion the medium-term plan for 1982-1983 should include a follow-up to those activities, which were of high priority for developing countries.
286. Some delegations said that achievement of sustained economic growth required not only evaluation of the environmental impact of development projects prior to their implementation, but also its ex post assessment, and advocated that UNEP give high priority to the conduct of case studies in such ex post environmental audits.
287. Two delegations expressed the opinion that, particularly in view of its cost, the cost-benefit analysis exercise did not warrant retention in the programme.
288. one delegation expressed concern at the inadequate conceptual formulation of the document on interrelationships between people, resources, environment and development (UNEP/GC.9/2/Add.4): the difficulty stemmed perhaps from lack of a broadly based reflection of the experience of countries with various economic systems, with the result the document raised controversial questions without dealing with them in depth.
289. One delegation expressed support for the activities on environmentally sound and appropriate technology, and suggested that UNEP's work on low and non-waste technology should be included together with them, rather than under industry and environment.
(ii) Industry and environment
290. There was general agreement that the industry and environment programme was an important one, and satisfaction was expressed with the work of UNEP, which one delegation noted had been effective and of value to developing countries. It was suggested that other United Nation6 bodies, particularly UNIDO, should undertake much of the work in the area, and the view was expressed that industry should play a greater part in the implementation of the programme. One delegation said that efforts to solve industrial pollution problems merited support, and offered its country's expert assistance in the implementation of relevant UNEP projects. Another stressed the need to regard industry as a dynamizing factor in development and the desirability of developing guidelines for industrial location which took into account the needs of population distribution.
291. Two delegations said that it was essential to establish environmental guidelines when industrial programmes were formulated. Another commended the joint activities of UNEP and the Inter-Goverranental Maritime Consultative Organizationin consultation with the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association, leading to a joint publication on the application of oil-spill chemicals as a model of UNEP/agency co-operation.
292. Strong support was expressed for the development and implementation of resource conservation policies in relation to specific sectors of industry. However, attention was drawn to the probability that developing countries would be unable to pay the costs of advanced pollution control equipment; UNEP should therefore promote, in co-operation with other members of the United Nations system, the development of pollution control with emphasis on low-waste and non-waste technologies and waste recycling.
293. One delegation suggested that programmes developed on a regional or subregional basis were likely to be more effective that those concentrating on a global strategy. Another called for increased research, information and publications on industry and environment, and drew attention to its country's active role in that respect.
294. One delegation said that the regional seas programmes were sources of information and data which should be used to underpin, and not to duplicate, activities under oceans and marine living resources. Another delegation said that marine pollution and living marine resources would more appropriately be dealt with by other agencies, and urged that UNEP should play only a catalytic role and should not extend its activities in those areas.
(i) Marine pollution
295. Delegations expressed appreciation of the work of UNEP and other agencies on the assessment of the marine environment, and the need for collaboration between UNEP and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO was emphasized.
Attention was drawn to the need for baseline studies, as well as for measures to combat pollution. one delegation emphasized the major pollution threat of oil deliberately discharged from tankers, while another referred to silt discharges from rivers, MT and other agrochemicals, and chemical and biological effluents, n and another said that the prevention of oil spills and of the dumping of wastes and other hazardous substances in the ocean should be conducted in line with principles laid down at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of-the Sea.
296. One delegation said that open-ocean monitoring was progressing more slowly than other components of the environment programme. A plan for the systematic study of pollutants in the ocean environment was urgently needed, as an obligatory first step for assessing their impact on ocean and coastal ecosystems. The open-ocean monitoring programme recommended at a meeting in Monterey, United States of America, in September 1980 should be expeditiously carried out, as should process-oriented studies in regions of high pollution impact and a study of the entire question of waste disposal at sea. In addition, continued assessment of the sources, amounts and effects of marine pollutants should be actively supported as a nt component of Earthwatch, with monitoring systems forming part of the various regional seas programmes, which had already accumulated an impressive data base that could usefully be incorporated in the Global Environmental Monitoring System297. Another delegation stated that intercalibration was indispensable if measuring and marine environment monitoring programmes were to yield comparable results.
298. Attention was drawn to'the newly established Kenya Institute of Marine and Fisheries Research, and UNEP was requested to help develop its research capabilities.
299. one delegation said that prevention of pollution of inland lakes and rivers ,should be included as a separate item in the programme.
(ii) Living marine resources
300. The proposed action of UNEP in relation to conservation of marine mammals was generally supported, and the hope was expressed that the ambitious but essential programme of activities outlined could be completed within the medium-term plan period. Delegations urged that the first phase of the UNEP/FAO plan of action on marine mammals be implemented during 1982-1983, and stressed that all agencies involved should take concerted action, taking fully into account the idea of different non-consumptive uses of marine mammals in addition to the traditional and conservative maximum sustainable yield approach.
301. A revision of the plan of action was called for in view of the fact that the definition of "optimum level' it contained - "to maintain the productivity and health of marine ecosystems and keeping the populations of animals and plants, etc., or restoring them to optimum levels" - was not universally accepted by scientists. In that connexion, the representative of PAO drew attention to the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Committee to agree upon the scientific aspects of the draft plan.
302. Support was expressed for the activities of the international Whaling Commission, and for the proposal to establish an Indian Ocean Sanctuary, as well as that to extend its southern boundaries. One delegation expressed the view that the only effective way to conserve whales was through a total ban on whaling. Other delegations urged UNEP to formulate a plan of action for the conservation of other marine species in danger of extinction, such as marine turtles, and to take appropriate action for the harmonization of legislation at the regional level to protect threatened marine species, including dugongs. The need for increased public awareness of the importance of conserving marine species was noted, and the Executive Director was urged to use UNEP's extensive network of nongovernmental organizations for the wide dissemination of relevant information.
303. UNEP's coordinating and catalytic role was expected to be a major force in the encouragement of Governments to enter into regional and/or bilateral agreements to protect specific populations of living marine resources, and it was further suggested that the regional seas programme could provide an effective mechanism for achieving the programme's goals.
304. One delegation considered that the conservation and rational use of living marine resources was of the highest importance, because of their value as a renewable source of food
(iii) Regional seas programme
305. Delegations expressed unani mous support for the programme, which one described as a mechanism for addressing unique environmental problems at the land/shore interface, and as a link to more effective treatment of the environmental issues of the open ocean. The inclusion of East Africa, the South-west Atlantic and South-east Asian seas in the programme was welcomed, as giving it better global balance, and UNEP was urged to continue its efforts for the implementation of the action plans already adopted by Governments in order to maintain the momentum generated in the regions concerned.
306. Reference was made to the planned ECA/UNESCO workshop on the development of marine science and technology in Africa, which would provide inputs to the UNEP directory of marine research and development centres, and to the UNEP/Department of International Economic and Social Affairs workshop on coastal area development and management, scheduled for later in 1981.
307. Several delegations expressed concern that the proposed level of funding for the regional seas programme was to be reduced, since to do so would mean that it would be unable to fulfil the expectations placed in it.
308. Several delegations considered that the programme for the Mediterranean should be given further support, as it was a model for programmes in other regions, although another delegation said that UNEP should ensure that it did not fund action plans for longer than necessary.
309. Attention was drawn to the contingency plan for spills of oil and hazardous materials in the Caribbean Islands, developed as part of the Caribbean Action Plan in 1980. One delegation outlined the bilateral and multilateral programme being implemented through the Regional Association for the Caribbean of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and stressed the importance of the planning and implementation of marine environmental research, monitoring and assessment components of the Caribbean Action Plan. The Co-ordinator of the Caribbean Environment Project expressed appreciation for the co-operation of the United Nations system in the development of the action plan.
310. Some delegations, while stressing the regional value of the programme, urged that more attention be paid to global problems concerning oceans, and requested UNEP to increase its activities in co-operation with IMCO to address that concern.
311. The representative of UNESCO called for reinforcement of the global study and
monitoring of the oceans in co-operation with IOC and its programmes such as IGOSS (the Integrated Global ocean Station System) and MARPOLMON (IOC/WMO Marine Pollution Monitoring Programme). He welcomed the dynamic development of the regional seas progr , while indicating that its wide scope and the absence of specific mandates from the Governing bodies of the co-operating agencies limited the extent of their participation.
312. Several delegations drew attention to the forthcoming United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy, and one suggested that a follow-up mechanism to monitor the results of the Conference should be established, and that UNEP should be involved in the implementaton of the Conference's decisions. Another, however, cautioned that no new strategies should be developed until the results of the Conference had been thoroughly studied. One delegation requested clarification of UNEP's role in the development of alternative sources of energy subsequent to the Energy Conference, and the Programme's relationship with the Committee on Natural Resources in that respect was also queried.
313. Delegations recognized UNEP's duty to stress the importance of environmental considerations in discussions of the relationship between alternative energy sources. Support was expressed for efforts to promote the effective development of alternative environmentally sound energy sources, an issue which one delegation considered to be as important as the misuse of present energy sources. Another delegation stressed the importance of research and development of energy-saving technologies in order to permit more efficient use of scarce resources.
314. Some delegations expressed concern over a possible duplication of effort, noting that understanding of the environmental impacts of energy production and use was already being promoted both nationally and internationally.
315. One delegation noted that little information was available relating to new energy sources, and thought it doubtful that the strategies envisaged to promote the understanding of the environmental impacts of energy production and use would add significantly to present knowledge, since in view of the manifold regional differences, it was often not possible to draw universally val;ld conclusions from individual studies.
316. Some concern was expressed over the level of funding allocated to the energy programme, which was considered inadequate for satisfactory involvement by UNEP. One delegation, however, argued that, considering the scarcity of funds and the fact that the problem was being tackled by others, it would be better to use the funds in question for other priority activities.
317. One delegation asked that the international panel of experts convened at Munich from 17 to 27 November 1980, which had discussed the report on comparative assessment of the environmental impacts of different sources of energy prepared by UNEP be mentioned in paragraph 7 of the Executive Director's report on UNEP and the United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy.(f) Natural disasters
318. One delegation commended the memorandum of understanding on natural disasters signed by the Executive Director and the heads of eight other organizations of the United Nations system. Another delegation noted with approval the wider scope of the programme outlined in the medium-term plan, and requested that priority be given to activities aimed at saving human life. Another argued that efforts should concentrate on the prevention of natural catastrophes, and said its Government was prepared to organize seminars on earthquake prediction in developing countries. Other delegations suggested that, in the present financial circumstances, UNEP should limit its involvement in the activities listed in the plan.
319. The representative of WMO said that his organization's progress in its work on natural disasters was due in no small measure to the co-operation, assistance and support received from UNEP, particularly in South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, but also in the Caribbean and other areas. He requested continued support from UNEP in the implementation of the Typhoon Operational Experiment and other related WMO activities mentioned in the medium-term plan, as well as in the areas of information dissemination, education and training.
(g) Environmental law
320. Several delegations welcomed the conclusions of the Working Group of Experts
on Environmental Law on legal aspects concerning the environment related to offshore mining and drilling within the limits of national jurisdiction, which it was felt would contribute significantly to preventing pollution resulting from the offshore exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons and other minerals. One delegation suggested that the conclusions could be recommended to Member States as minimum criteria to be taken into account in the conduct of operations within the limits of their national jurisdiction; another argued that they needed careful study before being incorporated in national legislation, and another said that they should not be adopted until after they had been circulated to Governments for comment. Another expressed reservations with regard to the conclusions of the meeting on the grounds that they did not take account of the responsibilities of States in respect of ecological damage.
321. One delegation expressed reservations as to the value to UNEP of the proposed biannual meetings of environmental law experts for the consideration of new research programme requirements, and further felt that the proposed seminar for universities teaching environmental law could be deferred without undue loss, although another delegation called for improved training facilities in environmental law.
322. One delegation noted the adoption by ECA of a resolution on "Strengthening of national capabilities for environmental legislation, assessment and management as a development strategy" which called on those States to review their legislation in the major development sectors in the region.
323. Another delegation recalled that at the Councills eighth session it had objected to the programme of work proposed by the Executive Director on the grounds that it went beyond the mandate given by the General Assembly; consequently, the delegation found the Executive Director's report on co-operation in the field of the environment concerning natural resources shared by two or more States, as well as the programme of work now before the Committee, unacceptable. A few delegations expressed concern over the development by UNEP of legal principles for the guidance of States. One stressed that UNEP should confine itself to developing guidelines rather than principles; the responsibility for identifying shared natural resources rested with States, and UNEP should limit its involvement to consultations with Governments and reporting to the General Assembly. Other delegations, however, welcomed the draft principles of conduct for the guidance of States in the conservation and harmonious exploitation of natural resources shared by two or more States, and urged that they be adopted as soon as possible.
324. Attention was drawn to UNEP's obligation to report on the subject to the General Assembly at its thirty-sixth session and it was suggested that a short report would suffice, on the understanding that the Executive Director's recommendations for further action would be omitted, and discussed in the appropriate context