Division of Environmental Law and Conventions

Montevideo Programme

UNEP has been conducting its environmental law activities on the basis of sequential ten-year Montevideo Programmes for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law, setting the strategy for UNEP's engagement in the field of environmental law.

Montevideo IV

In February 2009, the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme adopted the Fourth Montevideo Programme Montevideo IV; for the decade commencing in 2010.  This programme was developed by a group of experts in consultation with senior government officials.  It provides a framework for UNEP activities in development and implementation of Environmental Law for the decade beginning in 2010.

Previous Montevideo Programmes

The first Montevideo Programme Montevideo I; was adopted by the Governing Council of UNEP in 1982.  It was developed in 1981 by a group of senior government officials, expert in environmental law, as a strategic guidance plan in fulfillment of UNEP’s mandate to undertake activities in regard to the conclusion of international agreements and the development of international principles, guidelines and standards.

The second Montevideo Programme Montevideo II; adopted by the Governing Council in 1993, was based largely upon the requirements outlined in Agenda 21 adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992.

The governing council adopted the third Montevideo Programme Montevideo III in 2001.  It included twenty components, organized under three main themes: effectiveness of environmental law; conservation and management; and relationship with other fields.

The midterm review of Montevideo IV

UNEP is currently undertaking the midterm review of the fourth Montevideo Programme, agreed in 2009 for the decade beginning in 2010.  The review is particularly important in light of recent developments and emerging issues, including the Rio+20 Outcome (The Future We Want) and the post-2015 Development Agenda Process, and given the centrality of the Montevideo Programme to the progressive development of environmental law. The outcome of this review will provide the international community with a strategy which can be used by all to contribute to the progressive development of environmental law.  The review will be submitted to the second UN Environment Assembly in 2016.

The mid-term review will assess progress in delivering the Montevideo Programme, but will also assess shortcomings, gaps, and expected future developments. It is an important opportunity to reflect on progresses made and challenges faced in its implementation, and to refine, as appropriate, the focus of the further development and implementation of environmental law in light of new developments and emerging trends. Furthermore, it serves as a tool with which to highlight opportunities for improving synergy and coherence of policies and actions across the international community, including within the UN system, in the field of environmental law. In addition, it provides a platform for sharing relevant experiences and for facilitating a coordinated approach and collaboration among a broad range of actors to facilitate the implementation of internationally agreed environmental objectives and goals through actions in the field of environmental law. 
The review is carried out through a highly consultative and participatory process, expected to result in strong ownership of the programme by the international community, and in a programme that is fully in line with ongoing developments. This will further position UNEP as the lead environmental authority, and will possibly contribute to the formulation of system-wide strategies on the environment as part of its recently revamped mandate. 

Since the programme has been adopted especially as a broad strategy for the international law community and UNEP in formulating activities in the field of environmental law, in addition to the UNEP secretariat’s own internal assessment, it is critically important to ensure that the mid-term review is conducted in close collaboration with, and with full participation of Governments, organizations of the United Nations system, other inter-governmental organizations, secretariats of relevant multilateral environmental agreements, as well as other relevant organizations, entities and experts who are active in the field of environmental law. A questionnaire has already been distributed through the official channels to these relevant stakeholders. There is also an online version of the questionnaire available on the UNEP website. The questionnaire follows very closely the structure of the Programme itself, requesting Governments and other stakeholders to provide detail under each of the relevant sections on specific actions undertaken (including detail of progress made and challenges faced). The deadline for responses to be submitted is the 20 February 2015. 

Further Resources

Download an MS Word copy of the Montevideo Programme IV mid term Review Questionnaire

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Online version of the Questionnaire