The First Universal Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) began today at the United Nations Office in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates convened in the morning for the official opening by His Excellency the President of Kenya, Hon. Mwai Kibaki. Welcoming remarks were made by H.E. Mr. Federico Ramos de Armas, outgoing President of the UNEP Governing Council, followed by a statement of the Secretary-General of the UN, delivered by the Director-General of UNON, Ms Sahle-Work Zewde. UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, welcomed delegates to the First Universal Session of the Governing Council, Global Ministerial Environment Forum stressing their role in for defining, devising and delivering a 21st century UNEP as per the Rio+20 decisions and their adoption in December 2012 at the UN General Assembly. The opening ceremony was followed by a plenary for the consideration of organizational matters and a policy statement by UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner.
In the afternoon, delegates convened for ministerial consultations on the topic of "Rio+20: from outcome to implementation" whilst the Committee of the Whole (COW) began addressing draft decisions.
Other events included the launch of the UNEP Year Book 2013, which outlines major emerging issues for the global environment. This year the report highlights the fragility of arctic environment and the need for strengthened governance and management to prevent a rush for resources. The report also focuses on the need for better information and sound management to reduce the risk of chemicals as well as raises the issue of the spike in illegal wildlife trade. The UNEP Year Book is available at http://www.unep.org/pdf/uyb_2013.pdf
Two side events were held on the topics "Rapid Change in the Arctic" and "UNEP's Role in the post-2015 development agenda, SDG's and sustainable consumption and production". The Rapid Change in the Arctic side event focused on the need for political attention on rapid environmental change in the Arctic region with a view to influencing future policy-making and the development of associated project proposals.
The second side event aimed to initiate a multi-stakeholder dialogue on UNEP's role in the post- 2015 development agenda ensuring that environmental goals and targets are integrated with Sustainable Development Goals with due regard for the provision of data to monitor the achievement of goals.
For more information: Earth Negotiation Bulletin