Growing Momentum in the GA to Strengthen International Environmental Governance – Member States Respond to Options Paper

Features

On 10 September 2007, Member States and Observers gathered at the General Assembly to respond to the Options Paper which was presented by the Co-Chairs of the Informal Consultations in June 2007.

The Co-Chairs explained that some Member States indicated that they would need more time to respond in detail to the Options Paper. However, a sizeable number of Member States did respond: Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 (130 countries), USA, Australia, Japan, Russian Federation, New Zealand, Mexico, China, Republic of Korea, Iran, Portugal on behalf of the EU as well as a number of other countries, Indonesia, Egypt, Malaysia, India, and France.

The Options Paper - based on contributions from Member States earlier in the informal consultations - identifies 7 building blocks where specific progress can be made on a number of proposals to strengthen International Environmental Governance (IEG) and separately deals with a broader transformation of the IEG system which could include transforming UNEP into a UN Environmental Organization. Most statements responded to the Building Blocks and only a few delved into the broader transformation of the IEF system. Australia and the US were vocal in saying that they do not see a need for a significant overhaul of the IEG system; Japan would prefer a step by step approach, not yet convinced of the merits of bigger changes, and the Russian Federation prefers the practical steps that the Building Blocks provide. The G77 does not exclude discussions on the broader transformation but would like these to be integrated with those on the Building Blocks. The EU and France clearly support more ambitious reform efforts, including upgrading UNEP into a Specialized Agency. The G77 and China continue to stress that the UN’s environmental activities should not be dealt with in isolation from the other pillars of sustainable development and that the implementation of capacity-building agreements remains disappointing.

There clearly seems to be sufficient political will to continue the consultations and it is therefore likely that the incoming GA President will ask the Co-Chairs to press on with their facilitating activities. Consultations are then likely to resume in mid-October. Some reservations, however, were expressed about the specific timelines proposed in the Options Paper (G77, China, India, and Iran).

Written statements distributed at the meeting can be found below, as well as a draft paper on strengthening IEG from the UN Environment Management Group dated 5 September 2007, a statement from IUCN/The World Conservation Union, and a statement from Mr. Richard Sherman, representing a grouping of NGOs.