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Rethinking institutions

Many environmental institutions were originally set up under different conditions and to perform different functions from those they are expected to exercise today. They now need to adapt to new roles and partnerships, especially in view of the development of multiple, nested levels of action from the global to the local, and the spread of responsibilities to civil society. Many institutions are constrained by a lack of human capacity and funding, despite increased environmental challenges, and this limits their effectiveness. These are clearly issues that need to be addressed if institutions are to fulfil their present obligations and confront emerging environmental issues.

What to aim for
  • Reform, streamline and strengthen existing environmental institutions. Reforms should be directed towards creating flexibility, adaptability and adequate capacity.
  • Reinforce the linkages between global and local levels, and ensure that implementation and capacity are passed on to local authorities wherever possible.
  • Rationalize the range of environmentally related mandates among the many international organizations and conventions that result in overlap, duplication, poor assignment of responsibilities and difficulties in information sharing.
  • Promote synergies between public institutions, think tanks and the private sector to facilitate the exchange of ideas, capacity and skills


Suggestions for Action
Improving policy performance monitoring

At the international level:

  • Support the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and encourage more countries to join
  • Support international efforts to improve compliance with MEAs and strengthen capacities to build effective national compliance regimes
  • Strengthen regular dialogue between the international community and civil society through an open forum to discuss relevant environmental policy issues, share ideas and propose recommendations

Within civil society:

  • Strengthen the existing monitoring of political will and performance, continue to raise awareness of environmental concerns and act as a 'watchdog' over the private sector, governments and international organizations
  • Encourage individual responsibility and provide the missing link between people and policy development
  • Support private sector initiatives on environmental performance standards and reporting, such as voluntary disclosure on progress in stemming pollution, protecting environmental assets and promoting sustainable development