DELC

Division of Environmental Law and Conventions

INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE

BACKGROUND

International environmental governance (IEG) comprises the sumof organizations, policy instruments, financing mechanisms, rules, procedures and norms that regulate the processes of global environmental protection. Its inception can be dated with the creation of UNEP in 1972. Since then, the system has developed greatly with the international community creating a large number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). Today’s IEG system has more than 500 MEAs, around 25 of which are truly global in nature. The system has also seen an increasein environmental funds related to various aspects of environmental degradation, including the creation of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in 1992. Due to the cross-cutting nature of the environmental sector, more than 40 United Nations bodiesdeal with elements related to the environment.

OVERVIEW OF  GOVERNANCE ISSUES

While this growing attention to environmental matters is welcomed, the system as a whole has developed in severely fragmented manner, causing considerable overlaps and inefficiencies. In particular, the number of meetings called for by MEA Secretariats over the course of a year and the opaqueness of access criteria to environmental funds have created significant burdens for small and developing countries with limited resources, to the point where they are becoming disenfranchised from the system. 

Moreover, the lack of human, institutional and technical capacity of developing countries has led to a dramatic gap in implementation. Coupled with the system’s weak accountability mechanisms, this has resulted in continued environmental degradation. 

FOCUS OF DELC’S WORK

DELC’s efforts have focused on the reform of the IEG system, which have been ongoing for more than a decade. Key initiatives include:

  • 2002 Cartagena Package, UNEP GC/GMEF decision SS.VII/1 – universal membership;
  • 2005 World Summit Outcome, Paragraph 169, resulting in the UN General Assembly Informal Consultative Process on the Institutional Framework for United Nations Environment Work;
  • 2008 Commonwealth Consultations on IEG;
  • 2008 Joint Inspection Unit Report on the Management Review of Environmental Governance in the UN System (Executive Director’s response to be discussed by the CPR on 5 November 2009);
  • 2009 and 2010 Consultative Group set up under UNEP Governing Council decisions 25/4 and SSXI/1 respectively.

DELC facilitated the two-year consultative process with governments as well as sister UN agencies and civil society, whereby member states have come up with a number of reform options for IEG that have contributed to the preparatory process for the Rio+20 Conference. Taking a ‘form follows function’ approach, member states were able to distill the process and arrive at a number of key objectives, underlying functions and broader institutional reform options.

With specific reference to the Preparatory Committee for the Rio+20 Conference, DELC facilitates the discussions on five options for broader institutional reform:

  • Enhancing UNEP;
  • Establishing a new umbrella organization for sustainable development;
  • Establishing a specialized agency such as a world environment organization;
  • Reforming the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN Commission on Sustainable Development; and
  • Enhancing institutional reforms and streamlining existing structures.

As part of its ongoing work on IEG reform, DELC has also been central in facilitating the following events: 

INTENDED OUTCOMES

The objectives and aims of DELC’s work on reform of the IEG system have been identified as:

  • Creating a strong, credible and coherent science base;
  • Developing a global authoritative and responsive voice for environmental sustainability;
  • Achieving coherence within the UN system;
  • Securing sufficient, predictable and coherent funding; and,
  • Ensuring a responsive and cohesive approach to meeting country needs.

RELATED DOCUMENTS/PUBLICATIONS 

  •   <br>
      International environmental governance (IEG)  comprises the sumof organizations, policy instruments, financing mechanisms,  rules, procedures and norms that regulate the processes of global environmental  protection. Its inception can be dated with the creation of UNEP in 1972. Since  then, the system has developed greatly with the international community creating  a large number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). Today&rsquo;s IEG  system has more than 500 MEAs, around 25 of which are truly global in nature.  The system has also seen an increasein environmental funds related to various  aspects of environmental degradation, including the creation of the Global  Environment Facility (GEF) in 1992. Due to the cross-cutting nature of the  environmental sector, more than 40 United Nations bodiesdeal with elements  related to the environment.<br>
      <br>
      <strong>OVERVIEW OF &nbsp;GOVERNANCE ISSUES</strong> <br>
      <br>
      While this growing attention to environmental  matters is welcomed, the system as a whole has developed in severely fragmented  manner, causing considerable overlaps and inefficiencies. In particular, the  number of meetings called for by MEA Secretariats over the course of a year and  the opaqueness of access criteria to environmental funds have created  significant burdens for small and developing countries with limited resources,  to the point where they are becoming disenfranchised from the system. <br>
      Moreover, the lack of human, institutional and  technical capacity of developing countries has led to a dramatic gap in  implementation. Coupled with the system&rsquo;s weak accountability mechanisms, this  has resulted in continued environmental degradation. <br>
      <br>
      <strong>FOCUS  OF DELC&rsquo;S WORK</strong> <br>
      <br>
      DELC&rsquo;s  efforts have focused on the reform of the IEG system, which have been ongoing  for more than a decade. Key initiatives include: </p>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>2002 <strong>Cartagena Package</strong>,       UNEP GC/GMEF decision SS.VII/1 &ndash; universal membership; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>2005 World Summit Outcome, <strong>Paragraph       169</strong>, resulting in the UN <strong>General Assembly Informal Consultative       Process</strong> on the Institutional Framework for United Nations Environment       Work;</li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>2008 <strong>Commonwealth</strong> Consultations on IEG; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>2008 <strong>Joint Inspection Unit       Report</strong> on the Management Review of Environmental Governance in the UN       System (Executive Director&rsquo;s response to be discussed by the CPR on 5       November 2009);</li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li><strong>2009 and 2010 Consultative       Group </strong>set       up under UNEP Governing Council decisions<strong> 25/4 </strong>and<strong> SSXI/1 </strong>respectively<strong>.</strong></li>
    </ul>
    <p>DELC  facilitated the two-year consultative process with governments as well as sister  UN agencies and civil society, whereby member states have come up with a number  of reform options for IEG that have contributed to the preparatory process for  the Rio+20 Conference. Taking a &lsquo;form follows function&rsquo; approach, member states  were able to distill the process and arrive at a number of key objectives,  underlying functions and broader institutional reform options.<br>
      <br>
    With  specific reference to the Preparatory Committee for the Rio+20 Conference, DELC  facilitates the discussions on five options for broader institutional reform:</p>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Enhancing UNEP; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Establishing       a new umbrella organization for sustainable development; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Establishing       a specialized agency such as a world environment organization; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Reforming       the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN Commission on Sustainable       Development; and</li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Enhancing institutional reforms       and streamlining existing structures.</li>
    </ul>
    <p>As  part of its ongoing work on IEG reform, DELC has also been central in  facilitating the following events:&nbsp; </p>
    <ul>
      <li><a href="http://www.unep.org/environmentalgovernance/IEGReform/tabid/2227/Default.aspx" target="_blank">Meetings  of the Consultative Group on IEG</a>;</li>
    </ul>
    <ul>
      <li><a href="http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/" target="_blank">Rio+20  Conference and preparatory processes</a>; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul>
      <li><a href="http://www.unep.org/dec/worldcongress/concept.asp target="_blank">World  Congress on Justice, Law and Environmental Sustainability</a>.</li>
    </ul>
    <p><strong>INTENDED  OUTCOMES</strong> <br>
      The  objectives and aims of DELC&rsquo;s work on reform of the IEG system have been  identified as:</p>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Creating a strong, credible and       coherent science base; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Developing a global       authoritative and responsive voice for environmental sustainability; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Achieving coherence within the       UN system; </li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Securing sufficient, predictable and coherent funding; and,</li>
    </ul>
    <ul type="square">
      <li>Ensuring a responsive and       cohesive approach to meeting country needs.</li>
    </ul>
    <p>Under &lsquo;<strong>RELATED  DOCUMENTS/PUBLICATIONS&rsquo;</strong>, please migrate all the supporting documents from  the old website<br>
      <br>
    Also under the hyperlink for the Nairobi-Helsinki  Outcome &ndash; Section IV on IFSD of the zero draft of the negotiating document for Rio+20, <a href="http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?page=view&type=12&nr=324&menu=23#IV"><em>The Future We Want</em></a>.</p>
    <ul>
      <li><a href="http://www.unep.org/environmentalgovernance/IEGReformandpotentialmodelsforpublicpartici/tabid/78631/Default.aspx" target="_self">IEG Reform and potential models for public participation</a><br>
        <br>
      </li>
      <li><a href="http://www.unep.org/environmentalgovernance/IssuesBriefsontheInstitutionalFramework/tabid/54126/Default.aspx" target="_blank">IFSD  Issues briefs</a><br>
        <br>
      </li>
      <li><a href="http://www.unep.org/environmentalgovernance/IEGReformandpotentialmodelsforpublicpartici/tabid/78631/Default.aspx" target="_blank">Public Participation  papers </a></li>
    </ul>
    <p>&nbsp;</p>
    <div></div>

    The Future We Want

  • IEG Reform and potential models for public participation

  • IFSD Issues briefs

  • Public Participation papers