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Environmental governance at the national, regional and global levels is critical for the achievement of environmental sustainability and ultimately sustainable development.

Considering the undivided nature of the environment and its inextricable links with the social and economic dimensions of sustainable development, decision-making processes and the work of institutions must be well-informed, coherent, non-fragmented, comprehensive and integrated, and must rely on adequate normative frameworks and enabling conditions.

UNEP, through this subprogramme, together with a wide range of partners, addresses the most essential factors to achieve progress towards these objectives, i.e.:

  • Coherent international decision-making processes for Environmental Governance;
  • Adequate capacities to achieve internationally agreed objectives and national environmental priorities through adequate legal and institutional measures;
  • The integration of environmental sustainability in development at all levels, including regional, sub-regional and national.

Further background:

UNEP through the environmental governance subprogramme works with governments and the relevant institutions in the UN system, as well as with MEAs, to promote more coherent, effective and efficient decision making and action on the environment, including through strengthening relevant synergies. 

UNEP has a long history of contributing toward the development and implementation of environmental law. UNEP assists governments in obtaining environmental information for decision-making, enhancing global and regional environmental cooperation, developing and applying national and international environmental law, advancing national and regional implementation of environmental objectives, and bridging major groups and governments in policy development and implementation processes.

UNEP also provides support to governments to translate international environmental decisions into specific actions at the national and local levels and thereby narrowing the gap between commitments, such as the ones expressed in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), and their implementation. MEAs play a critical role in the overall framework of environmental laws and conventions. Complementing national legislation and bilateral or regional agreements, MEAs form the over-arching international legal basis for global efforts to address particular environmental issues.  

For achieving an integrated approach towards sustainable development, UNEP promotes the integration of environmental sustainability in national and regional development processes. It focuses on strengthening capacities and avenues for mainstreaming environmental priorities in the development sector, including through United Nations planning tools (UNDAFs) and national development plans; works with countries to promote the mainstreaming of poverty and environment linkages in national planning and budgeting through the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative; and promotes effective policy exchange and political dialogues on environment and development at the regional level to promote the inclusion of environmental sustainability principles in policies and plans of subregional and regional ministerial and multi-stakeholder forums.

Supporting Instruments:

Medium term strategy : as approved by the Governing Council at its First Universal Session, February 2013 (Governing Council decision 27/13)

Biennial programme of work and budget for 2014–2015 : as approved by UNEA at its First Session, June 2014 (Revised programme of work and budget for the biennium 2014-2015)

Biennial programme of work and budget for 2016–2017 : as approved by UNEA at its First Session, June 2014 (Programme of work and budget for the biennium 2016-2017)