UNEP – Perspectives Series

Hmong woman © UNPhoto/Kibae Park
Major Groups and Stakeholders of Civil Society are key partners for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in our efforts to improve the global environment. To ensure that their voice is better heard in the ongoing discussions on environment and sustainable development, starting with a discussion paper from Jacob Werksman and Joseph Foti, UNEP launched the publication series "Perspectives" in 2011. This publication series presents views from Major Groups and Stakeholders of Civil Society on global environmental issues and themes that are relevant to them and UNEP, including in the context of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) and the implementation of the 2030 agenda.

The series is coordinated by UNEP's Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch, Secretariat of Governing Bodies and Stakeholders. The views represented in the publications are not necessarily those of UNEP.

“Perspectives”is widely distributed among Major Groups, Governments and Media in electronic format and if possible also in print. Readers are invited to send their comments and feedback to the authors and/or UNEP.

Proposals for new publications are welcome and are to be sent to UNEP’s Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch. Please contact: civil.society(at)unep.org




UNEA-2 took place in May 2016, as a true multi-stakeholder event. Some UNEA participants - representing Major Groups and Stakeholders - gave us their views on UNEA-2 and what their expectations for UNEA-3 are. Perspectives issue No. 22 presents the responses we received from eight individuals, representing NGOs, women, indigenous peoples and local communities as well as business and industry.


Successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will require healthy, resilient and sustainable local communities everywhere.

Focusing on the health, resilience and sustainability of local communities enables us to address the problem of disparities between rich and poor in every part of the world, along with the negative ecological effects of human activities close to home.

While the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires significant improvements in the standard of living of many people, shared values beyond material ones will be at the core of such communities. The health of a community involves more than physical needs, embracing all of the psychological and spiritual dimensions of people living together and with -- not against -- the Earth.

A New Landscape for Stakeholder Engagement in UNEP?

This issue of “Perspectives” presents a discourse between Mark Halle and Felix Dodds on the past and future role of civil society organisations and Major Groups and Stakeholders in the context of the United Nations Environment Programme. It is not meant to give the ultimate answer to how UNEP can best engage with non-state actors but is rather a primer to initiate and enrich a discussion on this topic among interested stakeholders, including in the context of the newly established United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).

UNEP invites interested readers to comment on this thought-provoking piece and provide their own opinions towards civil society engagement within UNEP. Please do write your comments here which will be made publically available:

Please Click Here to Comment
Issue No. 19: Universal sustainable development goals. A challange for the rich countries as well as the poor

This edition focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); explaining them as global goals that challenge both, developed and developing countries to find new pathways to a more sustainable future. The authors present a particular focus on what the SDGs mean for developed countries. Here, the goals and targets are broadly split into three categories: domestic sustainability targets, do-no-harm targets, and international responsibility targets, and the UK is given as a case study. Proposals for what is required for the successful implementation of the SDGs are also given.

Issue No. 18: Pastoralist participation and networking in policy dialogue: Dimensions and challenges

This article analyses the historical challenges to pastoralist participation in policy dialogues, before highlighting the benefits that pastoralist participation creates, not only for their own livelihoods, but also to wider society. In addition, the mechanisms for enhancing pastoralist participation in policy dialogues are discussed; focusing on how and where to participate and the challenges that may be encountered. Success stories are also shared, with examples from conservation, market opportunities, facilitation of mobility, options for reduced conflict and improved use of technologies given.

Issue No. 17: Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda

This article focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda from the perspective of the women major group. The article is split into three sections; 1) Introduction, 2) Post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs, and 3) Financial and non-financial means of implementation. The introduction highlights women's undervalued contributions to the care economy, whilst section 2 describes the role of women in the SDGs, and considers the monitoring and accountability of Agenda 2030. Finally, section 3 looks at the implementation of Agenda 2030, with a particular emphasis on gender and technology.

Issue No. 16: Implementing Principle 10 And the Bali Guidelines In Africa

This paper on the Rio Principle 10 and the Guidelines on the Development of National Legislation, Access to Information and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (hereafter referred to as the Bali Guidelines) describes the importance of the Principle 10 and the Bali Guidelines in the context of Africa, as well as the progress made in its implementation and existing gaps.

Issue No. 15: At The Post-2015 Sustainability Crossroads: Too Vital To Fail, Avoiding Too Complicated To Succeed: Business Perspectives and Priorities

Because businesses operate in globalized markets and look for common practices and approaches wherever possible, the private sector sees a strong case for the pursuit of sustainability through coordinated and prioritized international efforts in the UN. The UN can also provide a space for partnerships and multi-stakeholder discussions, as UNEP has already demonstrated in its Clean Air and Climate Coalition (CCAC) initative for climate change, in its Green Economy Initiative and Partnership for Action for Green Economy (GEI PAGE) and elsewhere.

Issue No. 14: Illicit Wildlife Trafficking: An Environmental, Economic, And Social Issue

Sustainable use and trade of natural resources is at the interface of conservation and development, inextricably linked with the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, including the right to security, to health care and to adequate nutrition. Conversely, wildlife crime, in particular the increased involvement of organized criminal networks, undermines governance frameworks and the potential to achieve sustainable development objectives.

Issue No. 13: Technology and Sustainability: Changing our Perspective From the evidence of our senses to the evidence provided by our science, we know our current global society is unsustainable. We also know that technology is at least partly responsible for our predicament, just as it will be part of whatever future we face.
Neither denial nor despair is an appropriate response to the situation. At such a critical juncture, however, we cannot afford to make poor decisions about the technology we develop and use.
Issue No. 12: Towards A Global Agenda of Sustainability and Equity: Civil Society Engagement for The Future We Want At the Rio+20 Summit the United Nations General Assembly (GA) resolved to put in place a set of Sustainable Development Goals (§ 245-251 of “The Future We Want”). For this purpose, an Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals was established on 22nd January 2013 by decision 67/555 (see A/67/L.48/rev.1) of the GA. 
Issue No. 11: Strengthening UNEP’S Legitimacy: Towards Greater Stakeholder Engagement UNEP´s mandate in the international arena has been enlarged by the United NationsGeneral Assembly (UNGA) and its legitimacy increased through the establishment of a new Universal Membership body, the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). It is now time to examine how UNEP can further increase its legitimacy and effectiveness by improving its engagement with civil society.  Issue No. 10: Citizens’ Advisory Councils to Enhance Civil Society Oversight of Resource Industries

Effective democratic governance depends upon informed public participation, and several international conventions and policy guidelines call for enhanced public participation in environmental management. Yet, large-scale resource development projects generally receive insufficient oversight by, and engagement with, civil society.

Issue No. 9: Building the big picture for a green Economy by the Green Economy Coalition

This is the story of building a practical vision for the future, one that is described by a common language and defined by a shared set of priorities. That vision is for a green, fair economy that helps to lift people out of poverty, reverses the destruction of our ecosystems and provides everyone with the same opportunities.
Issue No. 8: Felix Dodds and Anita Nayar, Rio+20: A New Beginning, December 2012

All the sustainable development conferences, Stockholm, Rio, Johannesburg and now Rio+20 have happened during difficult political times. The follow-up to Stockholm took place in the shadow of the 1973 oil crisis caused by the Yom Kippur war and the OPEC oil embargo; Rio 1992 occurred took place in the aftermath of the first Gulf War and the costs of democratization of the former Soviet bloc; Johannesburg happened took place shortly after 9/11; and most recently, Rio+20 was confronted with the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Issue No. 7: Lalanath de Silva, World Resources Institute & Jeremy Wates, European Environmental Bureau: Globalizing Environmental Democracy: A Call for International Action, May 2012

In this paper we seek to (a) provide reasons why a convention offers a good option for making future progress in implementing Principle 10, (b) suggest what the contents of such a convention might be and (c) conclude with what Rio+20 can do to further such a convention. For those who would like more information on Principle 10 and the details of the various calls for a convention, we have provided an annex.
Issue No. 6: Catherine Pearce, World Future Council: Ombudspersons for Future Generations: A proposal for Rio+20, May 2012 

The proposal for an international Ombudsperson or High Commissioner for Future Generations is included in the first draft of the zero draft, “The Future We Want”. The proposal has broad support and interest is growing. Many Governments and UN institutions are considering the need for this role, and the potential it can offer. In this article we explore why this institution at the international, regional and national levels is relevant as a solution for Rio, the nature of its role and mandate and what we should learn from similar institutions elsewhere.
Issue No. 5: Patrick Binns, Westbrook Associates LLC: Opportunities and Challenges Facing Farmers in Transitioning to a Green Economy Agriculture Practice, April 2012

This paper has been prepared to highlight the key opportunities and challenges confronting farmers throughout the world as they consider and adopt practices that contribute to green economic development, poverty eradication and improved food security.  It focuses on the role of farmers in green economic development and how a transition to a green economy could benefit farmers. It also describes the primary means to accomplish sustainable farming and discusses key policies and public/private investments that would advance a ‘green agriculture’ transition.   
Issue No. 4: Thomas R. Jacob, T. R. Jacob & Associate: Environmental and Sustainability Governance – Thoughts from an Industry Perspective, March 2012

Expectations for a more sustainable future that were kindled in the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio have not been met.  It is generally accepted that governance and the global institutions governments create must change to better advance sustainable development.  That is why the topics of an Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD) and the related International Environmental Governance (IEG) will be primary themes to be dealt with at the upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20).
Issue No. 3: Uchita de Zoysa: Peoples’ Sustainability Treaties for Rio+20February 2012

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD2012) or Rio+20 is now just four months away, yet we have only very few ideas on what results it will bring to the world. The process has so far displayed a lack of vision; participation of stakeholders has been low and engagement has been difficult; and political will seems to be missing sometimes. The world is in a worse place now than it was then, and sustainability has become a much more distant dream. Can civil society, which has been the frontier and guardian of the sustainability agenda, provide the vision and leadership to Rio+20 and beyond?
Issue No. 2: Susanne Salz, ICLEI: Models for Local Government Organisations (LGOs) involvement in a strengthened UNEP, January 2012

Rio+20 in June 2012 provided the rare opportunity to address sustainable development issues in a unique global setting. In order to address the complex, severe and interconnected challenges that the world is facing, all actors must work together. This paper makes concrete proposals how to involve Local Government Organizations (LGOs) in a strengthened UNEP. LGOs have significant power in environmental matters and thus can help to implement global agreements, shape policy, and ultimately contribute to safeguarding global common goods. 
Issue No. 1: Jacob Werksman and Joseph Foti: Improving Public Participation in Environmental Governance, December 2011

This discussion paper 1) briefly explores the rationale and principles for “public participation” in IEG; 2) reviews exemplary practice and options of intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) with regard to implementing these principles and suggests a number of changes to IEG that could enable more transparent, participatory, and accountable governance; and 3) suggests that Rio +20 provides an opportunity to improve the  quality of civil society participation by enabling civil society organizations not merely to observe, but also to inform, shape, and engage decisionmaking processes.
The following publications, planned for the coming months are focusing inter alia on:
  • Green Economy
  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Post-2015 Agenda
  • A Global Convention for Principle 10

Please contact civil.society(at)unep.org for comments and further information.