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Providing an international policy framework

The fragmentation, duplication and overlap among international Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) reflects their piecemeal origin in response to each new problem. There are more meetings and reporting requirements than many governments can cope with or afford. Compliance rates are at best patchy. In the long term, a different approach aimed at building a coherent body of international environmental legislation is needed; meanwhile, short-term initiatives may help the system function more effectively.

Suggestions for Action
Strengthening international environmental legislation and compliance
  • Increase information exchange to foster coordination between related agreements
  • Hold joint meetings of the conferences of the Parties or the scientific advisory bodies of related MEAs, such as those for climate change and ozone
  • Establish joint financial systems to cover various MEA provisions and integrate regional secretariats with a view to bringing related MEA secretariats under a uniform system
  • Revitalize regional and global MEA mechanisms that have been beneficial in the past but have been sidelined
  • Encourage NGOs, action groups, and regional and international organizations to promote conventions among their constituencies and leverage them effectively into policy
  • Mandate UNEP to strengthen coordination of MEAs
  • Establish a system of national reporting on international conventions to facilitate their close linkage to national policies and programmes
  • Formulate transparent monitoring rules, procedures and regimes for the review and revision of commitments, conflict mediation and the provision of scientific, technical and economic advice upon request
  • Assign shared but differentiated responsibilities and obligations under environmental agreements, whereby richer states are given greater responsibilities for action than poorer states
  • Allow international and regional institutions to handle environmental disputes and encourage them to enforce sanctions against non-compliant parties to strengthen the effectiveness of international agreements
  • Establish transparent and doable non-compliance procedures under existing MEAs