III - EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORTS AND FOLLOW-UP OF THE RELEVANT RESOLUTIONS OF THE FORTY-SECOND ANDFORTY-THIRD SESSIONS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
1. The Governing Council considered agenda items 4 and 5 concurrently at the 1st to 7th meetings of its session, in the course of a general discussion on the various policy issues raised in the documentation. For item 4, this comprised: a summary of the documentation under the item (UNEP/GC.15/2); chapters I and IV of the 1987 and 1988 Annual Reports of the Executive Director (UNEP/GC.15/3 and 4); the introductory report of the Executive Director (UNEP/GC/15/5 and Corr.1 and Supplement 1); the report of the Executive Director on the results of the external evaluation of the clearing-house (UNEP/15/5/Add. And Corr.1 and Supplement 1); the report of the Executive Director on the implementation of Governing Council decision 14/11 on the environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories (UNEP/GC.15/5/Add.2); the report of the Executive Director on UNEP’s regional office system (UNEP/GC.15/Add.3); and a letter dated 10 May 1989 from the Permanent Representatives of Brazil and Venezuela and the charge d’Affaires of Colombia (UNEP/GC.15/L.3). For item 5, the documentation comprised: a summary of the documentation under the item (UNEP/GC.15/6); chapter IV of the 1987 and 1988 Annual Reports of the Executive Director (UNEP/GC.15/6); chapter IV of the 1987 and 1988 Annual Reports of the Executive Director (UNEP/GC.15/3 and 4); a note by the Executive Director on the implementation of the resolutions and decisions of the forty-second and forty-third sessions of the General Assembly and of the 1987 and 1988 sessions of the Economic and Social Council of direct relevance to UNEP (UNEP/GC.15/6/Add. 1 and Corr.1 and Supplement 1); a note by the Executive Director on the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 42/186 and 42/187 (UNEP/GC.15/6/Add.2); notes by the Executive Director transmitting reports of United Nations governing bodies on the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 42/186 and 42/187 (UNEP/GC.15/6/Add.3 and supplements 1-22); and a note by the Executive Director transmitting the report of the Secretary-General on the question of the convening of United Nations conference on environment and development (UNEP/GC.15/6/Add.4).
2. In his opening statement at the 1st meeting of the Governing Council, the Executive Director stated that, since the Council’s last regular session, environment had forced its way to the top of the international political agenda. At the forty-third session of the General Assembly, there had been four resolutions on the subject, even though environment as an item would not normally have figured on the agenda. At that session, President Gorbachev of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had expressed the view that environment and debt relief were as important to peace as arms reduction.
3. In 1989, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer had entered into force. March had seen London Ozone Conference, a forceful statement at the Hague by 24 Governments, 17 of which had been represented by their Head of State or of Government, on environment in general and global warming and ozone depletion in particular, and the adoption of the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal. In May, a strong declaration at Helsinki had committed Government to phasing out, no later than the year 2000, the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that q the ozone layer, as well as to phasing out halons and other related substances as soon as feasible.
4. Nevertheless, signs of sustained and universal action were few. The debt burden of developing countries was inseparable from their ecological problems. At the same time, few of those countries allotted significant resources to environmental protection - yet, in all but the poorest nations, 90 per cent or more of development expenditure was domestically financed. Governments were lagging behind public opinion, in the South as well as the North. As never before, UNEP was critically placed to stimulate action and had the benefit of experience to guide it.
5. The agenda of the current session contained proposals to direct at least 75 per cent of the human and financial resources of UNEP to the priority areas listed in paragraph 6 of the introductory report of the Executive Director (UNEP/GC.15/5).
6. The findings of the United Nations cross-organisational programme analysis in 1988 had been disappointing. The impact of the Council’s decisions in other governing bodies and forums of the system had to be enhanced. He was proposing measures that would give an expanded bureau or standing body an active role, particularly between sessions of the Council.
7. The year 1992 should become the target for a range of specific actions: it was not just a question of approving arrangements for a United Nations conference in that year. He proposed.
a) Agreement on target for the following 10 years and modalities for their implementation;
b) Conclusion of a framework convention and protocol on climate change;
c) Discussion of new ideas for securing proper protection of the environment and management of its resources;
d) Appropriate institutional changes within the United Nations system;
e) Assigning the Council responsibility to deal with security and the environment, with a properly funded mechanism for dealing with environmental emergencies.
f) Preparation of a thorough plan for raising additional resources for environmental protection by, for example innovative taxation and diversion of resources through disarmament and debt initiatives.
8. The Executive Director expressed concern over the issue of conditionality in the context of sustainable development, which was the subject of General Assembly resolutions adopted at the forty-second and forty-third sessions the follow-up to which was to be considered by the Council. He was certain that the Council shared his concern and looked to it for a clear, unanimous statement that sustainable development did not and should not imply unwarranted interference with the sovereign right to countries direct their own development.
9. A truly significant increase in the resources made available to UNEP, which, until recently, had been declining in real terms, was the most obvious test of serious intent of Government to meet the environmental challenges. In the supplement to his introductory report (UNEP/GC.15/5/Supplement 1), the Executive Director had explained why he felt that contributions to the Environment Fund should be raised from an estimated $40 million in 1989 to $100 million in 1992, which implied an average annual rate of increase of 35 per cent. He had listed a supplementary programme of Fund activities costing $35 million, the minimum needed to initiate actions which Governments had indicated that they required from UNEP.
10. He remained confident that, given a scientifically sound understanding of the symbiosis between people and their environment, a global effort could reverse the flood-tide of environmental destruction. The General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council had recognized the central place of the environmental issue. UNEP sought from the Council approval of the agenda and guidance on how best to carry it out.