143nd meeting of the Committee of Permanent Representatives of UNEP
28 September 2018
Interventions on behalf of the EU and its MS
Agenda Item 4: Report of the Executive Director
- Madame Chair, Mister Executive Director, distinguished delegates and observers, ladies and gentlemen; it is my privilege to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
Serbia and Ukraine align themselves with this statement.
- Allow me also to warmly welcome the Deputy Executive Director, Ms Joyce Msuya and congratulate her on the appointment. We look forward to working with you very closely.
- We thank the Executive Director for his update on the activities of the Secretariat and the progress on the implementation of the Programme of Work and Budget and the UNEA resolutions. We appreciate the improvement and we want to continue engaging with the Secretariat and the CPR Bureau to further improve this very important tool. Notably, we would welcome more systematic references to the implementation of resolutions across the report on the sub-programmes.
- We would like to express our appreciation for the leadership of the UN Environment Programme with regard to the efforts leading to promoting the environmental agenda and enhancing the international environmental cooperation. In this context, we would like to recognise the very good engagement of the UN Environment Programme in the High Level Political Forum, the G7 environment ministerial meeting and, most recently, the UN General Assembly. We are also very glad to see highlighted the continuous cooperation between the European Union and the UN Environment Programme through joint programmes and the policy dialogue, including the high level meetings held in June, which discussed the preparations for UNEA-4 and the climate &environment-security-peace nexus.
- We take note of the update on "cross cutting areas and special initiatives", including the information on the "Greening the Belt and Road Initiative". While we appreciate that a dedicated briefing has been foreseen for the CPR subcommittee, we would like the Executive Director to update on the progress on the announced consultations on the UN Environment Programme's engagement with the China-Africa Environmental Cooperation Center. We would also appreciate if he could elaborate on his proposal for the World Environment Forum and a role envisaged in this initiative for the UN Environment Programme.
- Concerning the financial resources, we appreciate the clear information provided in the report, including on the income and the allocations of the available funds. We also appreciate the regular updates on the contributions received. We remain seriously concerned about the fact that currently only one third of Member States provide contributions to the Environment Fund in spite of the universal membership of the organisation. We would like to urge the Executive Director to increase the engagement with Member States and take all necessary steps to ensure and on that basis convince the current and potential contributors that supporting the UN Environment Programme is a good use of tax payers money, as the funds will be invested in highly relevant activities and managed responsibly.
- With regard to the human resources, we are concerned about the lengthy processes of recruiting the senior management personnel, which in turn result in prolonged periods of vacancies or “ad interim” arrangements at key managerial positions which are critical for the delivery of the organisation. While we are conscious that some inefficiencies are of a more horizontal nature and need to be addressed across the UN system, the UN Environment Programme should take necessary steps on its side to avoid mistakes leading to recurring delays in the recruitment procedures or re-advertisement of posts. On a related issue, we would welcome a strengthened engagement of the senior management of the UN Environment Programme with the staff.
- Also, as a general remark, we would like to reiterate our proposal to create an interactive platform where Member States could deposit their questions and suggestions in advance of CPR meetings, so that the Secretariat prepares its answers and schedules relevant speakers to address the issues at stake.
- Finally, we would like to refer to the ongoing audit of the official travel of the UN Environment Programme which is referred to in the Executives Director’s update as well as in his recent letter to the CPR on the occasion of the press information about the preliminary findings of this report.
- We regret that a preliminary draft audit report was leaked before the UN Environment Programme has had a chance to comment on the findings. This has the potential to cause undue damage to the organisation. We await and look forward to the final report and its recommendations. We, however, appreciate the proactive response by the management of the UN Environment Programme on the alerting preliminary findings. We expect the management of the UN Environment Programme to vigorously take appropriate corrective actions and to keep the Member States duly informed.
Agenda Item 6: Preparation for the 5th Annual Subcommittee meeting
- The EU and its Member States welcome the idea of a “retreat”-format at the Annual subcommittee meeting which will facilitate more direct and in-depth discussions about the implementation of the current Programme of Work and Budget (2018-2019), as well as the drafting of the Programme of Work and Budget for 2020-2021. Indeed, the new Programme of Work should build on lessons learnt from the implementation in the current and previous periods.
- In light of this, we emphasize the importance of the reporting, including on the Programme performance. We see room for improvement in this regard, particularly when it comes to linking the implementation activities to concrete results achieved. We look forward to discussing this during the upcoming Annual subcommittee meeting.
- With regard to the draft Programme of Work, we presented our initial comments in the subcommittee meeting last week, including our appreciation of the good structure of the document and its alignment with the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda. We also consider the drafting of a new Programme of Work to be a good opportunity to further reflect on the strengthening of the engagement with the private sector as well as the South-South Cooperation and how this can be included in the Programme of Work in coherent manner. We would still seek improvements in the results framework and the indicators. We will submit further comments in writing today, as requested by the CPR Chair (Annex 1). We however continue analysing the document, and envisage submitting more detailed comments in the next iteration of the process.
- Concerning the proposed Budget envelope, we expressed our concerns in June, but unfortunately we still don’t have the clarity about the consequences of the options proposed by the Secretariat. Notably, we should discuss the pros and cons and underlying motivation for the budget proposed, and how this relates to the anticipated resources as well as the activities in the Programme of Work.
- Furthermore, we think it would be useful to discuss how to find a right balance between the realistic estimations and the ambition with regard to resources mobilisation. When setting the target for the Environment Fund, we need to understand the impacts on the motivation of the contributors, as well as the impacts on the VISC mechanism (Voluntary Indicative Scale of Contributions).
We also think the Programme of Work and Budget should enclose a prioritization plan, in case resources do not ultimately meet expectations or pledges.,
- Lastly, we underline the importance of having a transparent, inclusive and open preparation of the Programme of Work and Budget. We look forward to the next steps in this process to provide a good engagement and more clarity on the issues highlighted above. One important issue should be to ensure that the potential "special initiatives" proposed by the Executive Director should contribute fully to the objectives of the Programme of Work and Budget.
Agenda Item 7: Implementation of the UN Environment Assembly Resolution 2/8, entitled Sustainable consumption and production
- The European Union and its Member States are strong supporters of concrete action by the global community in favour of sustainable consumption and production, including by funding the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, the International Resource Panel, and the Partnership for Action on Green Economy.
- We are domestically engaged in a shift from a linear and wasteful economy to a low-carbon, resource efficient and circular one. Sustainable consumption and production considerations are a cornerstone of the EU’s 2015 Circular Economy Action Plan.
- We are however acutely aware of the need for a global transition, as recognised right at the outset in UNEA Resolution 2/8: ‘(…) fundamental changes in the way societies consume and produce are indispensable for achieving global sustainable development’, and thank UNEP for the progress update in the Resolution’s implementation.
- We agree on the transformative role of the work by the 10-Year Framework, which would however require to be even more synergic with other UNEP-led initiatives, such as the International Resource Panel, and the Partnership for Action on Green Economy.
- We understand that the International Resource Panel will present its first fully-fledged Global Assessment of the Natural Resources Use and Management at UNEA-4, in response to the Resolution at hand. We look forward to it and invite UNEP’s Executive Director to ensure that its findings are properly taken into account and reflected into the actions carried out throughout UNEP.
- The EU and its Member States look forward to continuing our excellent cooperation with UNEP for the global transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient and circular economy that doesn’t waste resources, reduces its environmental footprint and achieves more sustainable consumption and production patterns.
Agenda Item 8: Future of the Global Programme of Action for the protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities (GPA)
- The European Union and its Member States positively acknowledge the role that the Global Programme of Action (GPA) has played since 1995 to promote measures and highlight the importance for the global and regional agenda to deal with land-based pollution. We also acknowledge that the GPA has been a forerunner in using and promoting a ‘Source to Sea’ approach.
- It is now time to ensure that this work can be adapted to today’s realities and ensure a viable future in the most appropriate manner.
- The future of the GPA is closely related to implementing UNEA-3 resolutions, in particular with regard to the work undertaken by the Ad-hoc Open-ended Expert Group on marine litter and microplastics with a view to define options for further work in this area, to be considered by UNEA-4.
- Although the outcome of the Expert Group and its consideration by UNEA-4 cannot be anticipated, the review of the GPA should be considered bearing in mind the need for consistency and complementarity in support of UNEA’s resolutions’ general orientations.
- We consider the timing of the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Review of the GPA (IGR-4) not ideal, pending the above-mentioned work streams. However, to take the maximum advantage of the meeting, the IGR should at least take a decision on a next firm step for its future set-up and its possible articulation in relation to UNEA-4, coming in March 2019.
- The IGR-4 should acknowledge that it should be explored whether UNEP and UNEA will be the appropriate fora to address issues related to land-based pollution, since much of the work is already undertaken in this context (see Option C).
- We are also open to discuss the full integration of the GPA work into the regular Programme of Work of UNEP and combining relevant meetings with UNEA (see option B). Implications of this option will require, however, further clarification.
- In general, more clarification is needed, in particular on how duplication can be avoided and how the various options are related to the Programme of Work of UNEP and UNEA proceeding. This should include a consideration of advantages and disadvantages as well as costs of the different options.
- Currently, the presented options paper proposes various levels of structural integration of GPA’s current work with UNEP and UNEA. However, it fails to consider the consequences for the continuation of GPA’s activities.
- It would be helpful if UNEP could complement the note on the substantive elements, take stock of GPA’s achievements and articulate options for activities and pollution areas that should be covered in the future, irrespectively of the structure. The considerations should also address the most efficient use of resources.
- Finally, the EU and its Member States are interested in views of other Member States and are willing to discuss the options and implications.