Finland wins acclaim at UNEP
Finlands long-term efforts to reform international environmental governance were broadly commended on 23 February, at the 26th session of the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP's Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, Kenya.
The UNEP's Governing Council handled the proposal by Finland and Kenya for the reform of international environmental governance. This proposal is based on work carried out last year by the UN Consultative Group of Ministers and High-Level representatives, co-chaired by Minister Paula Lehtomäki of Finland and Minister John Njoroge Michuki of Kenya.
The so-called Nairobi-Helsinki Outcome, comprising six sets of measures to reinforce international environmental governance, was published in Nairobi. The Consultative Group proposes, inter alia, that the work of scientific panels and networks be enhanced. In addition, the availability of information on the environment and its use in political decision-making, especially in developing countries, should be improved. Furthermore, the Consultative Group proposes that an environmental strategy be formulated for application throughout the United Nations system, for the better integration of environmental issues with practical work. With an emphasis on efficiency, the Group also wishes to increase cooperation between international environmental agreements. Depending on the calculation method, the current number of international environmental agreements worldwide totals between 250 and 500. These agreements are partly overlapping and even contradictory.
The Consultative Group proposes reinforcing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), either within the framework of the current programme, or by forming a completely new environmental organisation to replace UNEP.
At present, environmental governance is inefficient and too fragmented to work efficiently. The majority of nations agree on this, but views on practical implementation vary. In line with other EU countries, Finland is in favour of establishing a comprehensive international environmental organisation, comments Minister Lehtomäki.
The Consultative Groups proposal forms part of UNEP's preparation for the 2012 Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in May 2012.
We have received extremely positive feedback on the Consultative Groups work, and discussion has been lively. Everyone agrees that international environmental governance must be reformed, in order to respond to todays challenges of sustainable development and environmental problems', says Minister Lehtomäki.
Nairobi-Helsinki Outcome: six methods of reinforcing international environmental governance
1) Enhance mutual communication between scientific panels and networks, and improve the availability of information on the environment and its use in political decision-making, especially in developing countries.
2) Formulate an environmental strategy for application throughout the United Nations system, to enhance efficiency and coherence, and to strengthen the environmental pillar.
3) Increase cooperation between international environmental agreements, respecting the right to decide of those who are parties to the agreements. The aim is to lower the administrative costs of agreement secretariats and to increase the funding available for implementing agreements at country level.
4) Reinforce the connection, within environmental policy, between funding and global decision-making. The objective is to expand and deepen the basis of international environmental funding, while developing methods to monitor funding.
5) Develop a framework programme for application throughout the United Nations system, in order to improve the capabilities of developing nations. The objective is to enhance the implementation of international environmental agreements and global environmental objectives in developing countries.
6) Enhance strategic presence at regional level by improving the preparedness of UNEP regional offices to respond to countries environmental needs. Another objective is to reinforce environmental expertise in United Nations Country Teams.
Kerstin Stendahl, Counsellor, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 328 3860, email@example.com
Hanna Ekman, Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment, tel. +358 400 873 743, firstname.lastname@example.org