OPENING ADDRESS BY THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAMME
Mr. President, Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, and dear colleagues.
I extend a hearty welcome to all of you to Nairobi to the fifth special session of the Governing Council of the united Nations Environment Programme.
I commend you, Mr. President, for your inspiring statement. You have made clear the awesome nature of the environmental challenges that we face today. Your statement also underscores the challenges that we face during this special session. I have no doubt that our deliberations will benefit greatly from your deep understanding of the issues before us. I personally congratulate you, Mr. President, on your outstanding contribution during and since the last session of the Governing Council.
Allow me at the outset to state that the document “Policy statement of the Executive Director
To the fifth special session of the UNEP Governing Council” is with you. I apologize for the delay in distributing this document. I assure you that we will avoid this in the future. We will make available all the documents in all the United Nations languages to you on time.
This document describes UNEP thinking on emerging environmental problems, the areas of the concentration, the UNEP organizational structure and financial matters.
I do not wish to reiterate all the points made in the document in may speech. Instead, I will concentrate on the points of our discussion.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It has been our stated policy to strengthen the United Nations presence in Nairobi. Recently, we were very pleased to welcome our Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, to Nairobi. His successful visit and his support have reinforced out commitment eventually to make the United Nations presence in Nairobi rival those in other prominent United Nations centres, in Geneva and Vienna. I know this is a very high aim. But in life, we must all aim high, if we are to achieve something.
We also wish to make Nairobi a centre for important global conferences and negotiations. In this connection, I am very pleased that the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity has decided to hold its next meeting here in Nairobi. I am very grateful to the Government of Kenya for inviting the Conference to meet here in Nairobi.
There are other reasons for us to be pleased with out location in Nairobi. The first stage of the Mercure project for data transmission for UNEP is now on line. I had a meeting with the Mercure Board some days ago.
They stand ready to support our endeavors. We are now eagerly looking forward to further developments in this sphere. We need Mercure for voice transmission and ultimately for all ofus. In this, we will require assistance – both financial and technical – from our host government and donors.
Unfortunately, the security situation in Nairobi continues to be serious. We hope that, with the cooperation of the Government of Kenya, we will observe sound improvements in the situation as soon as possible. A sound and stable security environment is absolutely essential for the recruitment of the best international staff in Nairobi.
On a very sad note, I wish to inform you that the United Nations family in Kenya is mourning the brutal murder of out ex-colleague, Mr. Seth Sendashoga, who had worked with UNCHS (Habitat) for many years. He leaves behind four children and a wife, who is also a colleague working for UNEP. The United Nations family cannot be silent in the case of brutal acts such as this.
He want to repay what we have received from this great continent. Water is a critical issue for Africa. As the Co-chair of the Water Groups of the special initiative on Africa, UNEP, together with UNCHS (Habitat), will work on “The Cape town Declaration”. Our aim will be to articulate action plans to provide clean drinking water to Africa cities.
Likewise, we will be responsive to the special needs of all the regions. For our regional representation, we will have individual profiles for each region, which correspond to their unique circumstances, problems and situations. We are also aware of the special needs of the small island developing states. We will be guided by the Declaration of Barbados in these endeavors.
Here, at this important special session of the Governing Council, our focus, very appropriately, is on the Nairobi Declaration. The importance of the Nairobi Declaration was also accepted by the special session of the United Nations General Assembly.
But the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration requires defining areas of concentration. My plan focuses primarily on four areas on which UNEP will concentrate its activities in the short and medium term. In my conviction, these four areas of concentration express the substance of the Nairobi Declaration.
First, development of an emergency response capacity and strengthening of the early warning and assessment functions of UNEP.
· A precondition for the development of environment policy is a strong information, monitoring and assessment capacity. In this regard, we will revitalize and strengthen the information and assessment capabilities of UNEP.
· We welcome the special interest and support shown by the Government of the United States of America in UNEP endeavors in this field.
· There is an urgent need for an early warning mechanism and emergency response capacity to deal with environmental disasters and emergencies. The events associated with the El Nino phenomenon – floods in Mexico and Peru, forest fires in East Asia, Brazil, Mexico and other countries, drought in various parts of East Africa – have thrown into sharp relief the need for such a mechanism.
· A well-coordinated United Nations system-wide response is required to ensure that manageable emergencies do not develop into major humanitarian crises. I know that organizations such as the United Nations Office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs are already providing active service in this field. We are honored to work with this organization.
· A comprehensive assessment of the links between the UNEP monitoring, assessment and early warning capabilities to develop networks for disaster response will be undertaken.
Our second area of concentration will be the coordination and development of environmental policy instruments.
This areas includes three sub-components.
First, support to environmental conventions.
· UNEP has special responsibilities for all environmental conventions except those on climate and Desertification. Therefore, our first concern is with the conventions which have been negotiated under the auspices of UNEP and to which we provide support.
· UNEP will streamline effective Programme support to promote linkages between conventions.
· It will revitalize its role in linking scientific processes underpinning the conventions, including the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of GEF.
· UNEP will develop synergies among the work Programmes of Bio- diversity-related conventions. Recently, I had the honour to be in Bratislava to congratulate the Slovak Government on its organization of the successful meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity. This meeting was a vital step ahead in achieving these synergies. This is a stimulating task and UNEP pointed out at Bratislava the possibilities for common endeavor.
· We are also reviewing our relationship with the work programs of other environmental conventions, including those on climate and Desertification.
· We have already proposed the reinstitution of the inter-agency process of the Ecosystem Coordination Group, which included the participation of specialized agencies and NGOs to support this initiative. The first meeting of this Group is to be held in June.
The second component is chemicals.
· The intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on a Prior informed consent Convention successfully reached agreement on the text of the draft Convention. The Convention will be adopted in September this year and opened for signature at the Diplomatic Conference in Rotterdam.
· I am sure the conclusion of the PIC convention will enhance chemical safety measures in all countries by controlling international trade in hazardous chemicals through the PIC procedure, especially capacity-building.
· Negotiations for a global legally binding instrument on persistent organic pollutants will commence next month at the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on a POPs instrument in Montreal.
· We are very grateful to the Government of Canada for agreeing to host this meeting. Their generosity is symbolic of global solidarity in facing environmental challenges. We are very grateful to the Government of Canada for providing assistance to us, both in financial terms and in kind.
The third component in the area of coordination and development of environmental policy instruments is the development of economic instruments for the implementation of international environmental agreements.
It is crystal clear that the globalization of the world is based on market economies. It is a challenge and an obligation for UNEP to analyze the impact of free market economies linked with liberalization and globalization and their social and environmental consequences. We must intensively explore the use of economic instruments to deal with the effects of globalization, and the spread of free markets worldwide to deal with their environmental and social consequences. We must also explore the use of these instruments intensively to avoid the regionalization of advantages and globalization of disadvantages of economic growth and technological development.
UNEP has two priorities in this area.
· First, together with UNCTAD, UNEP is launching an intergovernmental Panel on Economic Instruments for Environmental Policy, UNEP is, of course, as Co-sponsor with WMO, intensively interested in the best use of IPCC and its wealth of accumulated knowledge.
· The focus of this panel is the assessment of economic instruments for the implementation of international environmental agreements. UNEP must contribute to the “greening” of tax systems. We have to include ecological components in the tax structure and make sure that environmental costs are included in the pricing policies of private enterprises.
· The second priority is renewal and strengthening of the work of UNEP in the area of trade and environment. UNEP must explore common areas in this field with WTO, OECD, the World Bank and UNCTAD to build closer links between international trade and environmental policies. The discussions now under way in Geneva on the fiftieth anniversary of WTO are therefore of the highest importance for UNEP in the future.
The third area of concentration for UNEP is freshwater.
· The message of the developing world – grappling with poverty, growing population, increasing urbanization and industrialization – is clear. Freshwater supplies will be a critical issue in the years to come. I would like to remind you that it is women who bear the greatest burden in areas of water stress. We must also be aware of the importance of water to the maintenance of ecosystems, biodiversity and food security.
· UNEP is strengthening its collaboration with GEF on freshwater resources. Recently, GEF approved a global international waters assessment. This will provide the international community a comprehensive assessment on international waters, including freshwater. It will also provide Governments with priorities for action.
· GEF has also approved a number of activities relating to UNEP projects on trans boundary diagnostic analyses and strategic action Programmes for the integrated management of international rivers and lakes in different regions of the world.
· UNEP is exploring the possibility of developing a global action Programme focusing on the environmental aspects of freshwater management with a regional component.
· UNEP will strengthen legal agreements for long-term cooperative management and the use of water resources important to more than one country, bearing in mind the efforts already under way. It will facilitate the development of regional and sub-regional action plans and agreements. It will promote the application of economic instruments for environmentally sustainable water resources, since water is not only an economic but also a social good.
· In this regard, UNEP is reviewing its assessment activities for establishing a system for predicting hot spots and developing early warning system to alert Governments to potential disputes on shared water resources.
· UNEP is revitalizing the GEMS/Water Programme – the only global Programme within the United Nations system directed specifically to water pollution issues.
The fourth UNEP area of concentration is industry and technology transfer.
In this area:
· UNEP will strengthen the very good work of the Industry and Environment Office in Paris and the International Environment Technology Centre in Japan in cleaner production activities and transfer of environmentally sound technology.
· In cooperation with the private sector and the Government of the Republic of Korea, UNEP will Launch a “Cleaner Production Declaration” to commit signatories to quantified targets to achieve increased resources productivity and pollution prevention.
· UNEP will undertake initiatives with Governments, non-governmental organizations and industry to promote responsible consumer behavior through advertising and marketing.
· Our focus will be on providing capacity-building and support to small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries by improving them with access to state-of-the-art clean technologies.
· We will continue to strengthen our work on voluntary initiatives with private sector corporations.
· We know that voluntary agreements are not a substitute for action, but are complementary to it. What we need is capacity-building in this field.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Now I turn to the streamlining of the UNEP organizational structure. I will be making a more detailed presentation on this issue under agenda item 6, entitled “Review of the results and decisions of the special session of the General Assembly for the purpose of an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of Agenda 21 and of the conclusions of the High-level Committee of Ministers and Officials at its second meeting”.
This streamlining is being undertaken to implement the recommendations of the Nairobi Declaration on the role and mandate of UNEP. This exercise is being undertaken also to provide a clearer organizational structure, achieve a leaner and more effective administration and avoid overlapping.
At the Nairobi United Nations location, we must make the best use of UNON.
We hope to achieve economies of nearly 30 per cent from the streamlining of our organization in Nairobi. This saving – I have called it the “environment dividend” – will be used to fund the Programmes of UNEP, especially for strengthening the regional profile.
I turn now to financial matters.
I am pleased that some countries have increased their contribution to the Environment Fund for 1998. Many countries have heeded my call to pay early. For both of these, I am deeply grateful.
You agreed to pay when the exchange rate was beneficial to us, but now the exchange rate has fallen. The result is that our projections of the overall money that will be available to the Environment Fund show no increase because of losses on the exchange rate against the United States dollar.
We know that we have to put out house in order by streamlining and cutting down on waste and duplication. We have to prove our capacity to deliver. We must be market-oriented and service-minded.
I am pleased that donors are giving us trust funds in line with the Nairobi Declaration.
A solid financial base is an essential prerequisite to enable UNEP to discharge its strengthened mandate and meet the growing environmental challenge worldwide.
One of my principal objectives in the medium term is to seek, with the cooperation of Governments, to restore the Environment Fund to at least its 1993 level of over $65 million.
Slide 1 ******* illustrates, for the three most recent bienniums, the Environment Fund budgets approved by the Governing Council. There is a clear downward trend. In fact, the budget for the current biennium is over one third lower than that for 1994 – 1995.
The same is true of contributions actually paid into the Environment Fund over the same period (slide 2). The projected receipts for 1998-1999 are also nearly one third lower than those for 1994-1995.
Slide 3 combines the two previous ones and shows the shortfall between what the Governing Council expected UNEP to do (the budget) and what it actually enabled UNEP to do (contributions received). The smaller project shortfall in the current biennium (-19 per cent) is due to a reduced level of programming.
Slide 4 shows the regional imbalance in contributions to the Environment Fund over the last eight years, as well as the general decline in contributions. I am pleased to say that at least 40 per cent of Governments have begun or resumed contributing since the pledging session during the last Governing Council. Even some least developed countries have pitched in with their contributions. This proves their trust in UNEP. I sincerely thank them. It will not escape notice, furthermore, that the Environment Fund relies heavily on only three of its regions. It is one of may objectives to encourage contributions from all six regions. It is not in equal measure, then at least to the level of Governments’ ability to pay.
Mr. President, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I have been the Executive Director of UNEP for 100 days now. In these 100 days, I have seen the great possibilities, as well as the obstacles, this organization confronts. I have been impressed by the wealth of human talent and dedication in the majority of the staff.
I am not a blue-eyed optimist, nor am I a pessimist. I am a realist.
I have been impressed by the mature wisdom of the members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives and the High-level Committee of the Ministers and Officials. Not only have they made my task easier – they have always guided us in our endeavours.
I say this in all sincerity and with the hope that this atmosphere of mutual confidence and trust will continue in the future.
Together, we can make the United Nations Environment Programme, a catalytic body, and the voice of the United Nations in environmental policy. Together, we can build a stronger and more effective United Nations presence in Nairobi.