XI - ADOPTION OF THE REPORT
513. The Governing Council considered the draft report on the work of its ninth session at the 8th and 9th meetings of the session, on 25 and 26 May.
514. The representative of Japan noted that several political decisions had been adopted by the Council at its ninth session. His delegation had abstained in the votes on all those decisions, reflecting its grave concern at the growing tendency for political issues to intrude upon UNEP's work. That tendency threatened to disrupt the Councills activities and distract UNEP from the tasks for which it had originally been established.
515. The representative of the United Kingdom said that at future sessions the Council must reduce and simplify the documentation it generated, and must also ensure that speakers kept to the items under discussion. Moreover, draft decisions must be submitted in good time, and every effort must be made to reach consensus outside the official meeting rooms, instead of taking up the time of the Council for the process of negotiation. Finally he said that if the members wished to have a really effective UNEP dealing with genuine environmental problems, they should eschew long speeches and irrelevant decisions and refrain from attacking countries which were in a position to contribute to the solution of environmental problems.
516. The representative of Ghana, supported by many others, expressed serious misgivings about the statement by the previous speaker. The Governing Council was an international forum in which members were not only entitled, but expected, to exercise their full sovereignty. There was considerable room for divergences of opinion concerning what was relevant, but he was sure that all those who had spoken had done so with the sincere intention of contributing to the attainment of UNEP's objectives. It was intolerable that anyone should seek to dictate to members what they might and might not say, or suggest that the positions adopted by delegations should be determined by whether they could be classified as donors or recipients.
517. The representative of Saudi Arabia observed that the divergences of opinion which had emerged during the session were a reflection of the complex nature of environmental concerns. He expressed the hope that they would not be allowed to disrupt the co-operation which had been built up so far.
518. At the 9th meeting, on 26 May, the Council took note of the report of Sessional Committee I (see chap. V), as orally revised by the Rapporteur of the Committee, and adopted the draft decisions recommended by the Committee (decisions 9/10 to 9/22). For the texts of the decisions as adopted, see annex T.
519. One delegation recalled that during the debates both in Sessional Committee I and in plenary, it had expressed serious reservations concerning the draft medium-term plan 1982-1983. Accordingly, it reserved its position regarding paragraph 9 of the decision on the environment programme, 1980-1983 (decision 9/10 A) .
520. Regarding the decision on arid and semi-arid lands (decision 9/15 A), the Executive Director said he assumed that the request for support to projects was subject to the customary proviso "within available resources'.
521. His understanding of paragraph 1 of the decision concerning the Ad Hoc Meeting of Senior Government Officials Expert in Environmental Law (decision 9/19 A) was that the Working Group OOE Experts on Environmental Law, in its capacity as preparatory committee for the Meeting, would have its membership expanded, within the financial implications stated in the report of the Sessional Committee (see para. 374), to include representatives of some of the developing countries that expressed an interest in the Ad Hoc Meeting. Furthermore, he took it that, although paragraph 4 (a) presumably referred to States which had expressed such interest in response to Governing Council decision 8/15 of 29 April 1980, the Council would wish to waive the deadline of 30 September 1980 specified in that decision, and would therefore accept participation by all the countries that had indicated such interest. He also assumed that the meeting referred to in paragraph 4 (b) would take place for two days immediately prior to the preparatory committee meeting. Finally, noting that one offer of support had been received, though not yet confirmed, he appealed to donor countries to consider providing support for the series of three meetings.
522. He noted that the decision regarding co-operation in the field of environment concerning natural resources shared by two or more States (decision 9/19 B) did not specify when the report of the Council on progress in the implementation of General Assembly resolution 34/186 should be submitted to the Assembly. In preparing material for that report, he would therefore proceed on the basis that it would be submitted at the thirty-seventh session.
523. Noting that the decision on environmental education and training in the Asia and the Pacific region (decision 9/20 C) referred in paragraphs 1 (d) and 2 to a programme activity centre, he recalled that the evaluation report on the similar centre established on an experimental basis for Africa, which had been communicated to Governments, stated the view of the evaluators, UNEP and UNESCO that the centre had not served its purpose, and that accordingly a more appropriate course of action in the future would be to establish regional networks of institutions for education and training.
524. Regarding the decision on regional programmes and programme support (decision 9/21), he pointed out that since the question of the regional presence of UNEP was to be discussed by the Council at its tenth session, no action to strengthen the regional offices could be taken before the Council reached a decision at that session.
525. The representative of Argentina said that, in principle, all decisions of the Governing Council should be implemented forthwith, without requiring confirmation by the Council at a subsequent session. There was no conflict between a decision that the capabilities of the regional offices should be strengthened and one that the whole question of the Programme's regional presence should be discussed on another occasion, and the Executive Director should carry out the responsibilities assigned to him by the Council in decision 9/21.
526. The representative of the United States of America said that, irrespective of the issue involved, her delegation hoped that the Council could rely on the Executive Director to take the action required to implement its decisions. In the case in question, there was no inconsistency between the present specific decision and a review of the subject in general terms in 1982.
527. The Executive Director explained that it would be difficult to implement the decision immediately if it were to be interpreted as calling for an increase in the staff of the regional offices. Increased support for their activities through consultancies, travel funds and so on would present no problem.
528. The representative of Argentina said that for the developing countries, the issue was one of p@moting regional solutions based on multilateral action. He was confident that the Executive Director would, within the possibilities immediately open to him, do all he could to strengthen the capabilities of the regional offices to advise and assist countries in their regions. Should additional staff prove necessary, a request for them could be made at the Councills tenth session.
529. At the 9th meeting, on 26 May 1981, the Council took note of the report of Sessional Committee II, (see chaps. VI and VII), as orally revised by the Rapporteur of the Committee, and adopted the draft decisions recommended by the Committee (decisions 9/23-9/27).
530. The representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, speaking also on behalf of the delegations of Bulgaria, the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, said that the size of their Governments' contributions to the Environment Fund, as well as the currencies in which they were made, were a matter falling within the sovereign jurisdiction of each State in accordance with the spirit and the letter of General Assembly resolution 2997 (XXVII) and rule 203.4 of the Financial Rules of the Fund. Accordingly, any attempt to impose specific proportions and currencies constituted a breach of the voluntary principle which was basic to the operations of the Environment Fund. These delegations considered that nothing in the decision on non-convertible currency could be interpreted as affecting the principle and rules governing the operation of the Fund.
531. One delegation said that more animated discussion on the level of expenditure proposed by the Executive Director for the next biennium had perhaps been generated at the ninth session than at any previous session, and it was gratifying therefore that a consensus had finally emerged, albeit with some reservation on the part of certain delegations. A crossroads seemed to have been reached; real fears existed as to whether the resources that could be raised through voluntary contributions, particularly from those in a position to contribute more, might not match the level of UNEP involvement formerly regarded as desirable. The Executive Director was to be urged to exercise the strictest economy consistent with effectiveness, particularly in the light of the current world economic circumstances. Lastly, the understanding shown by the Executive Director in setting in train action to establish the Trust Fund for the East Asian region was greatly appreciated.
532. With regard to decision 9/23, the Executive Director said that it was his understanding that the report called for in paragraph 9 would be an updating of the report submitted to the Governing Council at its present session and not a new report, and that the progress report called for in paragraph 13 would not repeat the detailed information contained in Report to Governments, but be appropriately cross-referenced to it. Referring then to the last sentence of the statement in chapter VI, paragraph 425, he said that in his view he had provided the Governing Council with the kind of details that would enable it to take a sensible view; allowance had been made for modest growth and he had given his views on priorities.
533. The representative of Argentina said that what the Governing Council wanted was to have the information mentioned in paragraph 13 of the decision available to Governments in all the working and official languages six weeks before the beginning of the session to enable an analysis to be made of the situation and views to be properly formed. The Executive Director pointed out that, with the exception of one document in one language which had been a week late, all documentation relating to the Fund and administration which was not inevitably produced after the deadline had been distributed in compliance with the six-weeks rule, and assured the Council that the secretariat would continue to ensure an equivalent or better performance in that respect in future years.
534. Regarding decision 9/25, the Executive Director said that his understanding was that the provisions related to new plans of action that would be adopted and not to plans of action already being implemented, that the obligation to maintain technical and financial support for plans of action did not necessarily mean at the same level, but within available resources, and that the decision to be taken by the Governing Council would be upon the recommendation of the Executive Director and would bear in mind the decision taken by the Council at its seventh session regarding the phasing out of programme activities that tended to involve the Fund on a long-tem basis (decision 7/3, para. 6).
535. Regarding the draft of decision 9/27 C, he pointed out that the Council could not properly address a request direct to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions. At the proposal of the representative of the United Kingdom, the draft was subsequently amended to read as it appears in annex I below.
536. The Governing Council adopted the present report at the 9th meeting of the session, on 26 May, subject to the incorporation of the amendments approved at the 8th and 9th meetings.