C - Budgetary allocations
343. After the Chairman of Sessional Committee II had communicated by letter to the Chairman of Committee I the views of Committee II concerning the target and anticipated level of the Environment Fund, many delegations said it was difficult to know how to proceed regarding the establishment of programme priorities, as well as regarding the proposed allocations for the two-digit budget lines presented in annex I to the medium-term plan. Two delegations proposed that the priorities and allocations should be established on the basis of the four-digit budget lines.
344. Some delegations stated that if the target figure of $120 million was not achieved, the proposed across-the-board percentage reduction of funding to individual budget lines would not be acceptable from the point of view of developing countries. It was proposed that in that event, the two-digit budget lines for human settlements and human health, environment and development, terrestrial ecosystems and arid and semi-arid lands including desertification should remain practically constant, while the balance should be adjusted by reducing the other budget lines.
345. Many other delegations, however, felt that it would be practically impossible for the Committee, at such a late stage in its work, to agree on the final allocations and priorities; the percentage across-the-board distribution of funds as indicated in annex I would therefore be acceptable. It was also pointed out that the present distribution was a result of profound discussions and long experience.
346. The Deputy Executive Director said that UNEP would be willing, time permitting, to enter into a more detailed discussion of the elements of strategy in the medium-term plan. It should, however, be borne in mind that, while the Governing Councills role was to provide general policy guidelines to UNEP in that respect, the Executive Director was responsible for keeping the Council fully aware of the progress of the programme. Consequently, he suggested that for the time being, the two-digit budget line allocations as proposed in annex I to the plan and the recommendations made in the letter of the Chairman of Committee II could be approved. As in the past, the Executive Director would report on developments and on the actual allocation of the funds to the Council at its next session, with a view to possible revision of priorities and allocations.
D. Approval of decisions
347. Following its debate, the Committee approved for adoption by the Governing Council draft decisions on the following subjects. The texts of the decisions as adopted by the Council are included in annex I. The numbers of the decisions as adopted are indicated in the following paragraphs. For action by the Governing Council in respect of these decisions, see chapter XI.
348. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision submitted by the Chairman (decision 9/10).
349. Following considerable discussion, in the course of which a small informal drafting group was convened and prepared a revised text, the Committee also recommended for adoption, as revised, a draft decision submitted by the Asian Group ntitled "The environment programme: long-term issues" (decision 9/11).
350. The Committee also considered a draft decision submitted by the African Group n,priorities for serious environmental problems in developing countries.
Following prolonged discussion, a small informal drafting group was convened, but was unable to reach agreement on a revised text. In an effort to avoid a vote, the representative of Australia proposed amendments which the sponsors accepted, and the Committee agreed to recommend the amended text for adoption by the Governing Council (decision 9/12).
351. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on the World Climate Impact Studies Programme, sponsored by Austria, Belgium and the United States of America (decision 9/13 A). The secretariat indicated that the decision could be implemented within existing resources.
352. The Committee also recommended for adoption by the Governing Council, as amended by the delegation of the German Democratic Republic, a draft decision on the protection of the ozone layer submitted by the delegations of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France# Gabon, Germany, Federal Republic of, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America and Uruguay (decision 9/13 B).
353. On behalf of the sponsors, it was explained that the words 'technical experts' in operative paragraph 2 should be interpreted in the broadest sense, as including experts in all relevant scientific and technical fields.
354. Two delegations said that, since more scientific knowledge of the ozone layer and its interaction with other components of the atmosphere was needed, it was premature to begin work on a convention, even a framework convention. They would therefore have preferred the text of the decision to refer to 'guidelines', and they reserved the right to speak on the matter in plenary.
355. The secretariat indicated that, in view of the generous offer of the Government of Sweden to host the first meeting of the ad hoe group to be established under the terms of the decision, the only additional cost to UNEP, that of the travel of staff servicing the meeting, could be absorbed within existing resources. The secretariat also indicated its understanding that 'other forums' in operative paragraph 3 (a) meant such international forums as OECD, CMEA and the Commission of the European Communities.
356. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on local environmental planning and management of human settlements sponsored by Benin, Colombia and Uruguay (decision 9/14).
357. One delegation said that, while it concurred with the substance of the decision, it believed it to be important for UNEP to avoid taking unilateral action in the areas of competence of other United Nations agencies.
358. The secretariat indicated that the decision could be implemented within available resources.
359. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision recommended by the African Group on arid and semi-arid lands ecosystems (decision 9/15 A).
360. The secretariat pointed out that the cost of the projects referred to in the decision could not at present be quantified. Every effort would be made, within available resources, to respond to the decision.
361. The Committee also recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on world soils policy (decision 9/15 B) sponsored by Benin, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Norway, Panama,
Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United States of America and Uruguay.
362. The secretariat indicated that the report called for in operative paragraph 6 would be included in the appropriate section of the programme performance report to be submitted to the Council at its tenth session, and that the remaining provisions of the decision would have no additional financial implications for the Environment Fund.
Environment and development
363. The Committee considered a draft decision submitted by the delegations of Kenya and Venezuela.
364. The delegation of the Soviet Union pointed out that, as in a number of other draft decisions before the Council, delegations were being asked to respond positively to the contents of documents that they had not had the opportunity to examine.
365. The secretariat pointed out that the findings of environment and development projects could be implemented only after they had been positively appraised, and then only within available resources. It would be premature at the present stage, a year before the submission to the Council for approval of the system-wide medium-term environment programme, to take a firm decision regarding future increases in the allocation to the budget line.
366. The sponsors revised the draft in the light of the comments made, and the Committee recommended the revised text for adoption by the Council (decision 9/16).
367. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council two draft decisions on regional seas, submitted by the delegations of Belgium, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Federal Republic of, Greece, Italy, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Venezuela and Yugoslavia and by the delegation of Kenya (decisions 9/17 A and B).
368. Regarding the first draft decision, the secretariat drew attention to the provisions of Governing Council decision 7/8, referred to in the draft, requesting the Executive Director to consider, as part of the medium-term plan, continuing UNEP's participation in programme expenditures of the Mediterranean Action Plan, subject to the availability of resources. It seemed clear that the total resources called for in the medium-term plan - including some $9 million for the regional seas programme - would probably not be forthcoming, and the amount actually to be expended under that provision would therefore also depend on the availability of resources.
369. Two of the sponsors pointed out that the decision itself called for its implementation 'within the framework of the budget".
370. Another delegation cautioned that the provision whereby funds under other budget lines could be used to support activities under the regional seas programme, where such activities were consistent with the objectives and strategies of those budget lines, might if sufficient care was not exercised constitute a dangerous precedent for transferring resources away from already under-supported activities of great interest to developing countries.
371. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council, as amended by the representatives of Australia and France, a draft decision submitted by Kenya (decision 9/18).
372. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on the Ad Hoc Meeting of Senior Government Officials Expert in Environmental Law sponsored by Austria, Bangladesh, Botswana, Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Yugoslavia (decision 9/19).
373. Two delegations recorded their reservation with respect to the three specific subject areas to be dealt with by the ad hoc meeting.
374. The secretariat underlined the need to have guidance on the number of participants. The meeting appeared likely to cost about $300,000, approximately $200,000 of which would have to be met from the Fund programme reserve.
375. The Committee also considered and approved a draft decision on co-operation in the field of the environment concerning natural resources shared by two or more States submitted by the delegation of the United States of America.
376. Following the initial approval of the draft decision, the Deputy Executive Director drew attention to a technical error in the drafting of one paragraph which had been proposed orally in the Committee, and suggested a revised text which would avoid that error, with concomitant changes in the operative paragraph to reflect the views of the Committee more clearly.
377. The representative of Brazil said that, while his delegation fully understood the concern involved, it was extremely reluctant to see discussion reopened on a text which had already been approved. He would, however, not challenge the Chairman's ruling on the point, since what was involved was a clarification of the wording along the lines his delegation had argued for in the earlier discussions. He wished nevertheless to make it clear that the action of the Committee should not constitute a precedent for reopening closed issues. Furthermore, he proposed the deletion of the words "at its thirty-seventh session' from the suggested new operative paragraph.
378. The Chairman reiterated that it would be improper to reopen debate on substantive issues already resolved. The Committee's action on a technicality of drafting would therefore in no way constitute a precedent.
379. The representative of Venezuela agreed that the action of the Committee should in no way constitute a precedent, and suggested that the correction might more appropriately have been introduced in plenary session. The representative of the United States of America said he fully shared the views of the representatives of Brazil and Venezuela. As the sponsor of the original text, his delegation accepted the changes suggested by the secretariat, provided they were understood solely as technical corrections.
380. The Committee agreed to recommend for adoption by the Governing Council the revised text of the draft decision, as amended by the representative of Brazil.
Environmental education and training
381. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision submitted by Canada, Chile, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay on the university and the environment (decision 9/20 A).
382. The secretariat emphasized the need to have a firm offer of concrete support for the regional centres, as had been the case with the International Centre for Training and Education in Environmental Sciences (CIFCA), before any action could be taken.
383. The Committee also recommended for adoption by the Governing Council three draft decisions submitted by the Latin American Group, the Asian Group and the African Group (decisions 9/20 B, C and D, respectively).
384. The secretariat pointed out that the most effective approach to environmental education and training activities.in the regions was that already followed for the Latin American region, whereby a Government (in other regions it could perhaps be an organization) had agreed in advance to bear a major portion of the cost of the exercise. CIFCA had over a four-year period cost some $9.5 million, of which .$8.4 million had been provided by the Government of Spain. Funds for the activities requested under the African and Asian draft decisions were not included in the medium-term plan. Regarding the draft decision submitted by the African Group, it was the secretariat's understanding that the action requested of the Executive Director in operative paragraph 2 could only be undertaken in response to specific requests by Governments. Regarding the draft decision submitted by the Asian Group, it should be pointed out that experience showed the programme activity centre approach to environmental education and training to be less effective than the CIFCA type of approach; the secretariat would, within available resources, seek to provide preliminary assistance to the Asia and Pacific Development Centre, with a view to the establishment of a network for training in the region.
385. The representative of UNESCO stressed that programmes concerning environmental education and training should be carried out in full co-operation with the relevant specialized agencies.
386. The representatives of the African and Asian Groups introduced amendments to their respective draft decisions in the light of the secretariat's comments and the secretariat's understanding of operative paragraph 2 of the African Group's text was conf irmed.
Regional programmes and programme support
387. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision submitted by the Asian and Latin American Groups (decision 9/21).
388. The secretariat said,that it was premature to recommend for adoption a draft decision on the regional presence of UNEP, as the issue was to be discussed in depth by the Council at its tenth session. Since, given likely budgetary constraints, it would probably not be possible to increase allocations in support of that presence, the reference to strengthening the capacity of the regional offices should preferably be deleted.
389. On behalf of the sponsors, the representatives of India and Malaysia said that the intention was not necessarily to provide more resources to the regional offices, but to strengthen their capabilities and improve their effectiveness.
Action to combat desertification
390. The Committee recommended for adoption by the Governing Council a draft decision on the co-ordination and follow-up of the implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification submitted by the Chairman (decision 9/22 A).
391. With respect to operative paragraph 3, the secretariat noted that assistance might be provided subject to availability of financial resources.
392. One delegation requested that the record show its preference for the inclusion of the word "preventive", together with "combat" whenever reference was made in the text to combating desertification.
393. The Committee also recommended for adoption by the Courcil a draft decision submitted by the African Group on the implementation of the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification in the Sudano-Sahelian region (decision 9/22 B).