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GC Today - 18 February 2009

Special Events:

UNEP Guidelines for Enhancing Rio Principle 10

Delegates, guests and UNEP staff attended the special event Access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters – UNEP guidelines for enhancing implementation of Rio Principle 10 on Thursday 19 February 2009. The event was co-chaired by Jan Dusík, First Deputy Minister for the Environment, Czech Republic, and by Andjelka Mihajlov former Minster of the Environment and now member of the Serbian delegation. It was organized against the backdrop of the draft UNEP Guidelines on this topic that is before the GC for consideration.

The speakers underscored the importance of the draft guidelines in supporting interested countries in developing their national legislation on these issues and expressed their satisfaction over the foreseen Governing Council decision to set a process in place to further develop the guidelines with a view to their adoption at the next Governing Council. The co-chairs summarized the event by saying that to achieve effective public participation a good legal framework is required, it has to be effectively implemented and the capacity of various actors (i.e. government officials and civil society) has to be built.

Other speakers:
Justice Donald Kaniaru, Kenya
Bakary Kante, Division of Environmental Law and Conventions, UNEP
Jeremy Wates, Aarhus Convention, UNECE
Achim Halpaap, UNITAR
Elenita Daño, Third World Network, Philippines
Augustine Njamnshi, Coordinator of The Access Initiative, Cameroon.

Cities: Leaders towards a Green Economy

On Thursday, 19 February, delegates, guests and UNEP staff attended the special event "Cities: Leaders towards a Green Economy" jointly organized by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, UN-HABITAT and UNEP. Sylvie Lemmet (Director of UNEP Division for Technology, Industry and Economics) chaired this session, which highlighted the important role cities and local governments are playing in a shift towards Green Economies. After UNEP Deputy Executive Director Angela Cropper opened the session, the Secretary General of ICLEI, Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, provided a key note address. In his presentation he stressed that urban areas are economic hubs and home to over 50% of the population. He presented examples of cities that have successfully reduced their ecological footprint. Furthermore, he briefly introduced tools to support local governments to green their economy such as ecoBudget.

Pavan Sukhdev, Leader of the Green Economy Initiative, emphasized the importance of construction and transformation of urban areas as main sources for the generation of green jobs. Stephen Kabuye, Mayor of Entebbe, Uganda and Vice President of ICLEI, added the perspective of a developing country to the discussion. He also gave examples of existing initiatives within the Lake Victoria Region, such as the promotion of energy-efficient stoves and the installation of solar panels for street lights. Gulelat Kebede, Head of UN-HABITAT Training and Capacity-Building Branch, stressed that turning the huge needs of slum dwellers into market demands bears a great potential to promote Green Economy. The panelists agreed that the cities are crucial partners for national governments when shifting towards a Green Economy.