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POLICY ISSUES

A. State of the environment

1. As decided by the Council at the 1st meeting of the session (see chapter I, paragraphs 18-21, above), items 4 (a), (b) and (c) were discussed in the Committee of the Whole, while item 4 (d) was addressed primarily in plenary meetings.

2. In considering item 4 (a) (State of the environment), the Council had before it the following documentation: the report of the Executive Director on the Global Environment Outlook (UNEP/GC.19/26) and the report of the Executive Director on the environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories (UNEP/GC.19/13).

3. It also had before it a draft decision on the environmental situation in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories (UNEP/GC.19/L.7), which had been prepared by the Drafting Group of the Committee of Permanent Representatives and considered by that Committee. In addition, it had before it a draft decision on the report on the Global Environment Outlook, contained in section VII of the compilation of suggestions regarding draft decisions that had been considered by the Drafting Group of the Committee of the Permanent Representatives (UNEP/GC.19/L.23).

4. The item was taken up by the Programme Subcommittee at its 2nd meeting, on 29 January.

5. At that meeting,the secretariat introduced the report on the Global Environment Outlook, which had been prepared in response to Governing Council decision 18/27 C and General Assembly resolution 50/110. The Subcommittee then heard statements on the subject from the representatives of Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Canada, China, Iceland, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Japan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), the Russian Federation, Slovakia, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, and the United States of America. The representatives of the World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization also made statements.

6. On conclusion of the debate, the Director for Environmental Assessment, said that the comments and criticisms made would be taken as constructive recommendations for the future. He noted that Governments were prepared to participate in future consultations and that there should be strong linkage between assessment activities and environmental management through programmes. He welcomed the appreciation of the assessment by UNEP focused on regional elements and emphasized that, although it was not easy to incorporate national reporting into a policy-oriented publication such as the Global Environment Outlook, endeavours would be made to enhance regional, subregional and country consultation for future reports.

7. At its 5th, 6th, 9th and 11th meetings, on 30 and 31 January and 3 February, the Committee of the Whole considered draft decisions submitted under this item, together with the relevant background documentation.

Action by the Council

8. On the recommendation of the Committee of the Whole, the Council, at its 8th meeting, on 7 February 1997, adopted the following decisions under this item: decision 19/3, 19/4 and 19/8. The text of those decisions is contained in annex I to the present proceedings and the process of adoption, including any comments made at the time, is recorded in chapter II above.

B. Emerging policy issues

9. In considering subitem 4 (b) (Emerging policy issues), the Council had before it the report of the Executive Director on globalization and the environment: emerging issues on the environment and trade agenda (UNEP/GC.19/27).

10. It also had before it a draft decision on globalization and the environment (UNEP/GC.19/L.20), which had been prepared by the Drafting Group of the Committee of Permanent Representatives and considered by that Committee.

11. At its 10th and 11th meetings, on 3 February, the Committee of the Whole considered a draft decision under this item, together with the relevant background documentation.

Action by the Council

12. On the recommendation of the Committee of the Whole, the Council, at its 8th meeting, on 7 February 1997, adopted the following decision under this item: decision 19/6. The text of the decision is contained in annex I to the present proceedings and the process of adoption, including any comments made at the time, is recorded in chapter II above.

C. Coordination and cooperation within and outside the United Nations,

including non-governmental organizations

13. In considering agenda item 4 (c) (Cooperation and coordination within and outside the United Nations, including non-governmental organizations), the Council had before it the following documentation: the report of the Executive Director on the United Nations system-wide strategy in the field of the environment (UNEP/GC.19/19) and the draft United Nations system-wide strategy in the field of the environment (UNEP/GC.19/INF.11 (English only) and Corr.1); the report of the Executive Director on the activities of the Inter-Agency Environment Coordination Group (UNEP/GC.19/17); a note by the Executive Director on memoranda of understanding concerning cooperation between UNEP and other organizations of the United Nations system (UNEP/GC.19/INF.2 (English only) and Add.1); the report of the Executive Director on UNEP's effort toward the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa: 1995-1996 (UNEP/GC.19/7); the joint report of the Executive Directors of UNEP and UNCHS (Habitat) on cooperation between United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) (Habitat) (UNEP/GC.19/8); the report of the Executive Director on coordination of convention secretariats (UNEP/GC.19/11); the report of the Executive Director on the participation of UNEP in the work of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) (UNEP/GC.19/16), together with an overview of UNEP GEF-funded activities (UNEP/GC.19/INF.15); the report of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) to the UNEP Governing Council on international cooperation in the field of environment on implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (UNEP/GC.19/12); the report of the Executive Director on steps taken by UNEP and other United Nations entities on good environmental housekeeping (UNEP/GC.19/28); and the report of the Executive Director on issues arising from the resolution of the General Assembly at its fiftieth and fifty-first sessions specifically calling for action by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/GC.19/2 and Add.1).

14. It also had before it draft decisions on the following topics that had been prepared by the Drafting Group of the Committee of Permanent Representatives and considered by that Committee: cooperation between the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) (UNEP/GC.19/L.4); coordination of convention secretariats (UNEP/GC.19/L.5); report of the Administrative Committee on Coordination to the Governing Council on international cooperation in the field of the environment (UNEP/GC.19/L.6); participation of the United Nations Environment Programme in the work of the Global Environment Facility (UNEP/GC.19/L.10); Inter-Agency Environment Coordination Group (UNEP/GC.19/L.11); United Nations system-wide strategy in the field of the environment (UNEP/GC.19/L.13); and the role of women in environment and development (UNEP/GC.19/L.16). In addition, it had before it draft decisions on issues arising from the resolutions of the General Assembly at its fiftieth and fifty-first sessions specifically calling for action by the United Nations Environment Programme and on good environmental housekeeping practices and guidelines in the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations system, contained in sections I and VIII, respectively, of the compilation of suggestions regarding draft decisions that had been considered by the Drafting Group of the Committee of the Permanent Representatives (UNEP/GC.19/L.23).

15. The item was taken up by the Programme Subcommittee at its 1st meeting, on 29 January.

16. Before it had begun its formal consideration of the item, the Committee of the Whole, at its 2nd meeting, on 28 January, heard a statement on cooperation between UNEP and United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) (UNCHS), delivered on behalf of the Executive Director of UNCHS (Habitat) by the Director, Office of Programme Coordination of UNCHS (Habitat).

17. At its 1st meeting, on the Programme Subcommittee considered those aspects of the item relating to the role of women in environment and development and heard statements from the representatives of Australia, Canada, Columbia, the Netherlands (on behalf of the European Union), Switzerland, and the United States. The representative of the African Development Bank also made a statement. The representative of Canada introduced an amendment to the draft decision on the subject submitted by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (UNEP/GC.19/L.16).

18. Also at its 1st meeting, the Programme Subcommittee considered the question of coordination of convention secretariats and heard statements on the subject from the representatives of Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Russian Federation, Swaziland, the Syrian Arab Republic, and the United Kingdom. A number of those representatives stated that recent ratifications of international environment agreements by their Governments had not been reflected in the report of the Executive Director on international conventions and protocols in the field of the environment (UNEP/GC.19/31). The secretariat took note of the statements with a view to including those ratifications in the revised report that would be submitted to the General Assembly on behalf of the Council.

19. At its 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th meetings, on 30 and 31 January and 3 February, the Committee of the Whole took up draft decisions submitted under this item, together with the relevant background documentation.

20. At its 10th meeting, the Committee heard a statement under this item from Dr. R. Getchev, Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria and Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Action by the Council

21. On the recommendation of the Committee of the Whole, the Council, at its 8th meeting, on 7 February 1997, adopted the following decisions under this item: decisions 19/7, 19/9 A to E, 19/10, 19/11 and 19/12. The text of those decisions is contained in annex I to the present proceedings and the process of adoption, including any comments made at the time, is recorded in chapter II above.

D. Governance of the United Nations Environment Programme

22. In considering item 4 (d) (Governance of the United Nations Environment Programme), the Council had before it the report of the Executive Director on the review of the governing structures of UNEP (UNEP/GC.19/10) and a note by the Executive Director transmitting the position of the Group of 77 and China on the governing structures of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/GC.19/INF.20).

23. It also had before it draft decisions and suggestions relating to the report of the Executive Director on the review of the governing structures of UNEP, as contained in section III of the compilation of suggestions regarding draft decisions that had been considered by the Drafting Group of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (UNEP/GC.19/L.23).

24. The item was taken up by the Committee of the Whole at its 7th meeting, on 31 January 1997, in conjunction with agenda 5 (Preparations for the 1997 review and appraisal of Agenda 21). At that meeting, the Committee heard statement from the representatives of Algeria, Australia, Bangladesh (for the Group of 77 and China), Brazil, China, Colombia (for the Group of 77 and China), Cuba, Egypt, Iceland, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Mauritius, Mexico, the Netherlands (for the European Union), Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sri Lanka, Uganda, the United Republic of Tanzania, and the United States of America. The Chairman said that a drafting group on the governance of UNEP would be constituted under the chairmanship of the representative of the Russian Federation, Vice-President Council.

25. At its 8th meeting, also on 31 January, the Committee heard statements under this item by the representatives of Colombia, Japan, India, Kenya, Mauritania, Sudan, Switzerland, and Zimbabwe.

26. The Chairman's summary of the discussion in the Committee under agenda item 4 (d), as adopted by the Committee, is contained in annex III to the present proceedings.

27. Because of the complexity of the issues involved, it was decided at the 8th plenary meeting to adjourn the session and resume at a later date.

28. At the 9th meeting of the session, on 3 April 1997, it was decided that the discussion under agenda item 4 (d) should continued in an Ad Hoc Working Group on Governance, under the chairmanship of Mr. Pavel Suian (Romania), which had been established for that purpose.

29. At its 10th plenary meeting, on 4 April 1997, the Council considered and adopted decision 19/32, on the issue of governance of UNEP. In addition, the Council adopted another decision under the item, on the constitution of the High-level Committee of Ministers and Officials established pursuant to decision 19/32. The text of these decisions is contained in annex I to the present proceedings and the process of adoption, including any comments made at the time, is recorded in chapter II.