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UNEP’s primary work in the field of environmental governance is:

To support coherent international decision-making processes for environmental governance:

  • Assist the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum to promote international cooperation in the field of environment and set the global environmental agenda.
  • Keep the state of the environment under review on a regular basis through authoritative assessment processes and identify emerging issues in order to support sound science-based decision-making at the national and international levels.
  • Cooperate with multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), and support for collaboration among them for their effective implementation, respecting the mandate of each entity, as well as partnering with the governing bodies and secretariats of other intergovernmental processes to enhance mutually supportive regimes between the environment and other related fields.
  • Provide support and policy inputs on environmental governance to the Chief Executives Board for Coordination and other inter agency forums and will make use of the Environment Management Group to promote joint action by all agencies and multilateral environmental agreement secretariats.

To catalyze international efforts to pursue the implementation of internationally agreed objectives,

UNEP will support efforts to promote the further development and implementation of international environmental law, norms and standards, in particular those addressing the goals, targets and commitments identified in the outcomes of United Nations summits and conferences, especially through the implementation of the Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law (Montevideo Programme).

  • Providing leadership to the progressive development of international and national environmental law ;
  • Provide advisory services and technical assistance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition upon request to develop and/or strengthen environmental policy, legislation and institutional regimes;
  • Legal support in processes for developing international legal instruments including further development of legal regimes within existing MEAs;
  • Capacity building in the form of national, or regional or global training and sensitization programmes for stakeholders of environmental law to strengthen the institutional framework for enhancing development, implementation of national as well as international environmental law (Government Officials, Judges, Magistrates, Legal practitioners, Parliaments, Prosecutors,  Judicial Training Institutes, Legal NGOs, the Academia).
  • Undertaking studies to develop norms in national and international environmental law as well as policy and institutions.
  • Promote wider appreciation of environmental law through the preparation and dissemination of online and hard copy environmental law information including publications for various legal stakeholders;
  • Building partnerships with national, regional and global international partners to enhance the application of international environmental law.
  • Provide assistance to countries who are Parties to MEAs on effective compliance with, enforcement of and implementation of MEAs at global, regional and national levels
  • Support, build and strengthen capacity building and training programs to assist national and regional negotiators and MEAs focal points enhance their skills and prepare them to participate effectively in multilateral environmental negotiations and intergovernmental meetings, such as conference/meetings of parties, etc.
  • Develop and prepare relevant technical, legal and policy papers, tools, guidelines and handbooks for effective development, enforcement and implementation of environmental policies and laws including MEAs.
  • Support the development of mechanisms and knowledge management for the coherent implementation of specific clusters of or specific common issues under MEAs
  • Assist in creating knowledge base that will improve access to information and increase public awareness on how to adopt sound environmental legislation, and in recognizing and sharing best practices

To support regional, subregional and national environmental governance processes and institutions:

Support regional ministerial and other intergovernmental forums related to the environment and assist in the implementation of their programmes of action.

  • Support the efforts of Governments to further develop and strengthen their national, subregional and regional policies, laws and institutions underpinning environmental governance, and infrastructures for environmental management.
  • Support the efforts of Governments to develop and strengthen their capacity for environmental data and knowledge management and assessment at the national, subregional and regional levels in order to provide a sound basis for environmental governance.
  • Strengthen its support for the engagement of non governmental stakeholders and civil society in environmental governance at all levels.  

To promote and support the environmental basis for sustainable development at the national level:

  • Support Governments in mainstreaming environment into their development policy processes, including through the UNEP-UNDP Poverty and Environment Initiative.
  • Assist Governments to ensure that environmental considerations are incorporated into their national development plans, including by making full use of the United Nations Development Group platform.
  • Enhance its strategic presence in regions to support Governments and United Nations country teams in addressing environmental governance.
  • Strengthen its engagement with other specialized agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations system, as well as departments and regional partners.