Press Announcements


Global Ministerial Environment Forum

Sixth special session of the Governing Council of the
United Nations Environment Programme
(Malmö, Sweden) 29 - 31 May, 2000

       News Release 00/56

       News Release 00/78

       Information Note 00/27

       Information Note 00/22



        Real Audio Speeches



UNEP News Release 00/56

Ministers to propose environmental agenda for the

21st century

NAIROBI, 11 MAY 2000 – The world’s environment ministers will meet in Malmo, Sweden from 29–31 May for the first-ever Global Ministerial Environment Forum, which is being sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme and hosted by the Government of Sweden.

"This Forum will offer ministers an opportunity to set their priorities for international cooperation on the growing number of environmental challenges facing the global community," said UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer.

"The Forum’s results – and in particular a Malmo Declaration – will provide an essential input to the UN’s Millennium General Assembly in September and to the Rio-plus-10 summit in 2002, which together will set the global agenda for environment and sustainable development for years to come," he said.

A key agenda item for the Forum will be to identify the major environmental challenges of the 21st century. The basis for this assessment will be UNEP’s second Global Environment Outlook report: GEO-2000. This is a comprehensive, policy-relevant analysis of the state of the global environment and an authoritative assessment of the environmental crisis facing humanity in the new millennium. (Read the complete report at

Recognizing the central importance of private investment and trade to promoting development in an increasingly globalized world, the ministers will also consider the role of the private sector. One focus could be the potential role of the financial and technology sectors in reorienting markets towards environmentally sustainable development.

The role of civil society is also a focus. While recognizing the importance of cultural diversity and differing development paths, Forum participants may explore how local communities, non-governmental organizations, the media, and the general public at large could promote a global consensus on ways to tackle shared environmental problems such as the loss of biodiversity, climate change, and land degradation.

The discussions on these agenda items will be enhanced by keynote statements from a number of internationally recognized scientists and corporate and civil society leaders, who will also serve as resource persons during the three days.

The ministers will also consider a report by Executive Director Toepfer on UNEP’s activities and the organization’s contribution to Agenda 21 (a global action plan for sustainable development that was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992).

A total of about 600 delegates are expected at the Global Ministerial Forum, including more than 100 environment ministers. The Forum is also serving as the Sixth Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council. The next Forum will serve as the 21st session of the UNEP Governing Council in February 2001 and will be held in Nairobi.

UNEP Information Note 00/27

Global Ministerial Environment Forum


NAIROBI, May 2000 - From the 29-31 May, the world’s environment ministers will meet in Malmo, Sweden for the first Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The meeting is a unique opportunity for the world’s environment ministers to bridge information and policy gaps on critical environmental issues through informal discussions with global leaders from academia, business and industry, and civil groups such as the media.


The Forum reflects a fundamental and important shift of the United Nations towards partnerships to promote peace and prosperity. The United Nations recognizes that governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, the business community, and private citizens are all necessary partners to meet new and existing environmental challenges. 


Forum discussions will cut across a number of economic and social sectors and provide valuable input to preparations for the United Nations Millenium Assembly in September and the ‘RIO + 10’ meeting in 2002. 


There are three broad themes for the Forum:


1. Major environmental challenges in the new century 


The conclusion of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook 2000 report is that time is quickly running out to solve many of the most pressing environmental challenges. These include the human use of non-renewable energy, over-extraction of water and timber from forests, and the loss of biodiversity - all of which are currently unsustainable. There are new challenges as well, including such ‘hot-button’ issues as the development and use of genetically modified organisms.


These conclusions have been validated by the summary findings of another report compiled jointly by UNEP, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, and the World Resources Institute. The Guide to the World Resources 2000-2001: People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life, is a two-year effort by 175 scientists revealing a widespread decline in the condition of the world's ecosystems due to increasing resource demands. The report warns that a continued decline could have devastating implications for human development and the welfare of all species.


Against this backdrop, UNEP believes major environmental challenges are associated with three current global trends: resource depletion and environmental degradation; increasing income disparity; and poverty and marginalization of a growing proportion of the world’s population – a population that is projected to increase by 65% in the next 50 years.


The environmental challenges of the new century raise a number of questions including: 


·        What are the policies, trade-offs and financial investment priorities needed to address major environmental challenges? 

·        To what extent can the ‘precautionary principle’ be applied?

·        Can new technologies, particularly new information technologies, dramatically lower environmental impacts? 


2. The private sector and the environment in the 21st Century


As society’s most powerful institution for technical and social change, commerce in the 21st Century is a vital element to restore environmental values and create industries and markets based on the principles of sustainable development. This process must happen within the context of increasing globalisation and trade liberalisation that is, itself, a potent force generating both positive and negative economic, environmental and social impacts.


At the beginning of the 21st Century, businesses and industries are beginning to acknowledge that shareholder value must reflect the interests of all stakeholders. Increasingly, business and industry understand the need to adapt to new environmental rules - regardless of the part of the globe they are operating in. They will also be increasingly required to account for the natural resources – the natural capital - they use while paying higher rates for generating and disposing of wastes.


Governments will be challenged to set the correct regulatory frameworks to encourage the cleanest industries and businesses. This will entail substantial efforts, including the removal of hundreds of billions of dollars in perverse subsidies that currently prohibit prices from telling the ecological truth.


This theme also raises a number of questions, including:


·        What role and extent should partnerships between governments and the private sector play as tools to promote sustainable development?

·        How can environmental objectives be incorporated into the routine operation of all enterprises?

·        How can the private sector help developing countries ‘leapfrog’ the previous environmental mistakes of developed countries?



3. Environmental responsibility and role of civil society in a globalised world


The term ‘civil society’ refers to the range of voluntary organisations within a society. These include industry associations, trade unions, commercial associations, employers’ organizations, professional associations, advocacy groups, co-operatives, research institutions, community-based organisations, religious groups and the media.

In a globalised economy, these local and national organisations are also becoming more ‘global’ and interacting in new and more dynamic ways, such as partnerships between environmental groups and international trade unions to promote jobs in a sustainable economy. These interactions are playing an important role to set the global agenda, particularly within environmental and development policies. Governments have a role to promote cooperation and encourage a “culture of civil society” with values of tolerance and respect for the rights of others.

At the same time, civil groups need to increase their efforts to document their work and communicate effectively with other groups and the public.


Some questions within this theme include:


·        How will new forms of information technology change the way civil groups communicate to promote their agendas?

·        How can the media be better informed in their reporting of important environmental issues?

·        How will a greater role for civil society change national and international institutions such as the United Nations?


Ministerial discussion will be enhanced with special keynote addresses by global leaders from academia, business and industry, and civil groups.



UNEP Information Note 00/22

Global Ministerial Environment Forum

Sixth special session of the Governing Council of the
United Nations Environment Programme
(Malmö, Sweden) 29 - 31 May, 2000

NAIROBI, 20 April, 2000 - Next month, Environment Ministers from around the world will gather for a unique world environment meeting - the first-ever Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The event, part of the Sixth Special Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will be held in Malmoe, Sweden, from 29 to 31 May 2000. 

At the Forum, Environment Ministers will discuss major global environmental challenges in the 21st century as well as strategic policy responses to address them. 

The main themes for the meeting include: 


  • Major environmental challenges in the new century 

  • Private sector and the environment 

  • Civil society - responsibility and role towards the environment in a globalised world 

The outcome of the Forum will be presented later this year to the fifty-fifth session of the General Assembly - the Millennium Assembly. 

The Malmoe Forum will provide the world's Environment Ministers and global leaders from academia, business and civil society with a unique opportunity to share their views and to strengthen their partnerships for progressive actions aiming at effective environmental protection and sustainable development.

 The meeting will open at 11 a.m. on Monday, 29 May. 


Note to journalists: Only bona fide representatives of the media - press, photo, radio, television and film - will be accredited to cover this meeting. Access to some sessions of the ministerial meeting may be closed but a fully serviced press centre will be in operation and regular press briefings held with ministers, CEOs, and other participants. 

For further information (including accreditation), please contact:
Anders Renlund, 
Press Officer, 
UNEP Regional Office for Europe, Geneva, on 
tel: +41-22-917-8272, 
fax: +41-22-797-3464, 

 Anette Tornqvist, 
Press Officer, 
Swedish Ministry of Environment on 
tel: +46-8-405-20-27, 

In Nairobi contact: 
Tore J. Brevik, UNEP Spokesman on 
tel: +254-2-623293, 
email:, or 
Robert Bisset UNEP Media Unit/Office of the Spokesman on 
tel: +254-2-623084, 
fax: +254-2-623692, 


Malmo Press Accreditation

Global Ministerial Environment Forum
Sixth Special Session of the Governing Council
of the United Nations Environment Programme

Malmo Sweden, 29-31 May 2000


Only bona fide representatives of the mass media - press, photo, radio, television, and film- will be accredited to cover this meeting at the Scania Convention Center  

To avoid delays upon arrival at the conference, please download and submit the form below with a letter of assignment form your Editor/Bureau Chief and a photocopy of your valid professional press card to:


UNEP- Regional Office Europe
International Environment House, Geneva
15,chemin des Anemones, Ch-1219 Chatelaine, Switzerland
Tel + 41-22-9178272/279, Fax: +41-22-9178024, E-mail


The Swedish Ministry of Environment
10333 Stockholm, Sweden
Tel. +46-8-4052027, Fax: +46-8-219628, Email

To avoid delay upon arrival at the conference, please submit your application by 24 May 2000.

In Malmo press passes can be picked at the media accreditation counter upon presentation of photo ID (passport, official national press pass, driver's license, work ID, etc.) or of a photo press pass from the United Nations in New York, Geneva, Vienna or Nairobi.

Please note that journalists accredited to cover the meetings should make their own travel and hotel bookings.

For press releases and other information on the Conference, please contact UNEP at the above coordinates or visit


Request for Accreditation Form  (in Pdf Format)

Request for Accreditation Form   (in MS Word Format)