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GC Today - 19 February 2009

Coverage of the Day's Proceedings:

Ministerial Consultations

This session consisted of a keynote presentation and a panel discussion on IEG from a country perspective.

Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, South Africa, expressed frustration with the “lack of fundamental reform or even incremental progress” on IEG and emphasized that maintaining the present IEG status quo was untenable.

He said questions relating to form and structure must follow function to avoid an inward-looking dialogue and weaker UNEP mandate. Van Schalkwyk emphasized the need to set clear milestones over the next three years, and for a political declaration to come out of the next GC special session to guide further work in the run-up to Rio+20.

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Andreas Carlgren, Minister for the Environment, Sweden, discussed the lack of trust between developing and developed countries regarding delivering on commitments. He called for a new flexible governance mechanism and enhanced coordination of the UN system.

Faumuita Liuga, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Samoa, said the challenge for the GC/GMEF is to promote environmental sustainability as a basis for economic recovery and financial growth. He called for UNEP regional offices to be upgraded and for more authority to be delegated to them.

John Michuki, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Kenya, observed that IEG should ensure full consideration of developing country needs and challenges and should not place unrealistic demands on governments and the UN system. He called on developed countries to honor ODA commitments and to provide new and additional financial resources.

Roberto Dobles Mora, Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications, Costa Rica, acknowledged agreement to strengthen UNEP but divergence on the degree of transformation and specific actions to be taken.

Ana Maria Sampaio Fernandes, Brazil, called for a solution that helps countries to implement sustainable development and action that integrates environmental, social and economic pillars.

Kevin Conrad, Coalition for Rainforest Nations, emphasized that it is “time to reframe environmental theory before talking about governance” and to “consider environmental incentives before restrictions.” He underscored that the environment cannot be protected until it is correctly valued.

During the ensuing discussion many delegates drew attention to the lack of coherence in environmental governance. They pointed to the need to strengthen UNEP in order to improve implementation and for enhanced coordination and synergistic approaches at the institutional level.

Source: ENB

Committee of the Whole

State of the environment: JAPAN tabled a draft decision inviting governments and relevant organizations to participate in activities to commemorate the International Year of Biodiversity in 2010 and calling on UNEP to coordinate such efforts. BRAZIL, supported by the EU, COLOMBIA, CANADA, MEXICO, INDONESIA and NORWAY, welcomed the opportunity to refocus attention on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), further noting that the decision should reflect agreed WSSD language on an international regime on fair and equitable benefit-sharing by 2010. KAZAKHSTAN called for reference to economies in transition. Chair Uosukainen invited interested delegations to submit additional proposals to the drafting group for discussion in the afternoon.

Waste management: Delegates agreed the revised decision submitted by the informal working group.

South-South cooperation: The G-77/CHINA and the EU reported that they had agreed compromise language referring to “necessary adequate resources.”

IPBES: The draft decision as amended by the drafting group was accepted.

Environmental Situation in the Gaza Strip: Algeria, on behalf of the ARAB STATES, presented the draft decision which the COW approved.

Support to Africa: Delegates accepted the revised text submitted by the informal working group.

Chemicals management including mercury: The COW approved the draft decision submitted by the Contact Group on Chemicals Management.

Environmental Law: The COW considered the draft decision submitted by the drafting group, which was accepted after deleting a reference to the EU law on environmental liability.

International Environmental Governance: The COW briefly discussed the draft but referred it to an informal group for further consideration.

The group revisited draft decisions on IEG, environmental law and the world environment situation, and reviewed Japan’s proposed decision on the International Year of Biodiversity. Regarding IEG, consensus was finally reached and the draft decision forwarded to the COW.

On the world environment situation, the group debated convening an intergovernmental meeting, but some delegates said the proposed meeting would duplicate the tasks of the already-operational second intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder consultative forum. The draft decision was eventually agreed and, with the draft decision on environmental law, was forwarded to the COW.

Regarding Japan’s draft decision on the International Year of Biodiversity, discussion centered on making reference to the CBD. Following extensive consultations the group agreed to a compromise draft to be forwarded to the COW.

The COW agreed the three decisions prepared by the Contact Group on the Programme of work and budget as amended.

Date and venue of future sessions: Introducing this draft decision the UNEP Secretariat noted that the dates and venue of the 11th special session of the GC/GMEF in 2010, and the dates of the 26th GC/GMEF in Nairobi in 2011, would be decided in consultation with the Bureau and CPR. The decision was agreed.

Source: ENB