The 27th Session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-26/GMEF) was held from 18 to 22 February 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya. Over 1300 participants from 140 countries, including ministers, representatives of UN agencies, civil society and industry attended the first Universal Session of the GC, following the decision of the United Nations General Assembly to strengthen and upgrade UNEP*, in which all UN members were for the first time entitled to vote, instead of the 58 members that constituted the Programme’s Governing Council.
Ministerial consultations and roundtables concluded with the adoption of a number of Decisions related inter alia
to the Implementation of Paragraph 88 of the Rio+20 Outcome Document**, the State of the Environment, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and the Advancing of Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability
In the adopted Decision on Institutional Arrangements and Rules of Procedures
(UNEP/GC.27/L6), which refers to the implementation of paragraph 88 of the Rio+20 Outcome Document, the Governing Council recommends to UNGA the renaming of UNEP’s governing body to the UN Environment Assembly. Furthermore, the GC will ensure, by 2014, the active participation of all relevant stakeholders, particularly those from developing countries, drawing on best practices and models from relevant multilateral institutions and it will explore new mechanisms to promote transparency and the effective engagement of civil society in its work and that of its subsidiary bodies.
With respect to the Decision on the State of the Environment and Contribution of UNEP to meeting Substantive Environmental Challenges
(UNEP/GC.27/CW/L.3) the Governing Council requests the Executive Director to review best practices and develop a set of transparent procedures related to the administrative processes, the selection of participants, the inclusion of diverging view points, as well as the government and peer reviews, in order to support a wide range of environmental assessments that the UNEP conducts so as to ensure that these assessments are of the highest quality and have maximum impact.
In the adopted Decision UNEP/GC.27/CW/L.2/Add.1 on Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
the GC authorizes the Executive Director to provide the secretariat and administrative arrangements in responding to the decision adopted by the Platform Plenary at its first session on administrative and institutional arrangements for the Platform as well as to finalize a host country agreement with the Government of Germany for the presence of the Platform Secretariat in Bonn.
Finally, in the preamble of the adopted Decision on Advancing Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability
(UNEP/GC.27/CW/L.2/Add.3) the GC takes note of the Report of the Executive Director on the outcome of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability*** and stresses the importance of an independent and judicial process for the implementation, development and enforcement of environmental law. Furthermore, it emphasizes that environmental and sustainability auditing are important in ensuring transparency, access to information, accountability and that justice should be seen as an intrinsic element of environmental sustainability.
* For further information see “UN General Assembly Upgrades UNEP to Universal Membership Following Rio+20 Summit”, MEPIELAN E-BULLETIN
**Paragraph 88 of the Rio+20 Outcome Document the “Future We Want”:
88. We are committed to strengthening the role of the United Nations Environment Programme as the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. We reaffirm General Assembly resolution 2997 (XXVII) of 15 December 1972 establishing the United Nations Environment Programme and other relevant resolutions that reinforce its mandate, as well as the Nairobi Declaration on the Role and Mandate of the United Nations Environment Programme of 7 February 199730 and the Malmö Ministerial Declaration of 31 May 2000.31 In this regard, we invite the Assembly, at its sixtyseventh session, to adopt a resolution strengthening and upgrading the United Nations Environment Programme in the following manner:
(a) Establish universal membership in the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, as well as other measures to strengthen its governance as well as its responsiveness and accountability to Member States;
(b) Have secure, stable, adequate and increased financial resources from the regular budget of the United Nations and voluntary contributions to fulfil its mandate;
(c) Enhance the voice of the United Nations Environment Programme and its ability to fulfil its coordination mandate within the United Nations system by strengthening its engagement in key United Nations coordination bodies and empowering it to lead efforts to formulate United Nations system-wide strategies on the environment;
(d) Promote a strong science-policy interface, building on existing international instruments, assessments, panels and information networks, including the Global Environment Outlook, as one of the processes aimed at bringing together information and assessment to support informed decision-making;
(e) Disseminate and share evidence-based environmental information, and raise public awareness on critical, as well as emerging, environmental issues;
(f) Provide capacity-building to countries, as well as support, and facilitate access to technology;
(g) Progressively consolidate headquarters functions in Nairobi, as well as strengthen its regional presence, in order to assist countries, upon request, in the implementation of their national environmental policies, collaborating closely with other relevant entities of the United Nations system;
(h) Ensure the active participation of all relevant stakeholders, drawing on best practices and models from relevant multilateral institutions and exploring new mechanisms to promote transparency and the effective engagement of civil society.
*** For further information on the outcome of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability see http://www.unep.org/DELC/worldcongress/
Sources: UNEP, UN News Centre, IISD Reporting Services
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