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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.

In the past two decades, all actors of the international community have shown growing understanding that global problems demand global solutions when tackling the challenges of environment and sustainable development. As a consequence, we have witnessed a large number of international summits and high-level conferences, resulting in several Multilateral Environmental Agreements.

Based on numerous consultations, a similar conclusion was drawn in the Options paper of the Co-Chairs of the informal consultation process on International Environmental Governance, Ambassador Claude Heller from Mexico and Ambassador Peter Maurer from Switzerland, noting an increasing interest in environmental issues, expressed by many countries and institutions. Our common wish to enhance international environmental governance in a way to better respond to the challenge of environmental degradation has once again brought us to today’s discussion.

The European Union would like to extend its appreciation to the Co-Chairs for convening this panel discussion and to the panelists for their presentations. We strongly support the continuation of the informal consultations process. Consultations, which provide the exchange of views as well as the needed clarifications, are crucial if we are to secure the necessary consensus and drive forward the process towards a coordinated, relevant and efficient International Environmental Governance architecture.

The establishment of the GEF was a key step in the international community’s response to environmental challenges, and the Bali roadmap now identifies finance as one of the building blocks for a future climate change agreement. The embedding of the ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ principle within all international environmental conventions has also demonstrated international commitment to an equitable approach to environmental finance. The EU would strongly support improvements to the financing of the IEG system that might better provide timely, predictable and adequate funding for environmental activities.

In the light of increasing environmental degradation, more efficient use of existing resources and financial structures and modalities is needed, as well as ensuring adequate global financial means. Several measures can be taken to improve the financial basis of UNEP, among them a clear identification of its core functions and a better balance between earmarked and non-earmarked resources.

• The EU also supports the continuation of the pilot phase of the voluntary indicative scale of contributions. Since its application, the number of countries contributing has broadened, the financial basis of UNEP has increased and it has contributed to a more predictable assessment of available resources for UNEP’s implementation of its biennium work program. We see this as an important point and would like also to turn to the panelists for their assessment on this matter.

When considering the financial needs and the potential increase of the financial basis of global environmental policy implementation and capacity-building, the EU would like to highlight the need for adequate future replenishments of the GEF. In connection with its fifth replenishment, we also wish to highlight our interest in an overall evaluation of the GEF and its role, responsibilities, duties and interplay with its executing and implementing agencies and other multilateral actors in financing for sustainable development in a changing global environment. In this regard, we would appreciate Ms. Barbut’s views as the CEO of GEF about the future role of GEF and the development of innovative financial instruments and potential for closer cooperation with the private sector.

Excellencies,

Further reflection would be useful in particular on the links between the GEF, UNEP and UNDP, taking into account available funding and UNEP’s comparative advantage. We are also supportive of better integration of the UNEP-GEF portfolio into the core work of UNEP. The EU also supports improved dialogue of UNEP with other GEF implementing organizations on the ground to ensure a country driven, strategic approach to environmental activities and reduce duplication of efforts, building on comparative advantages of respective UN agencies and collaboration between them.

• The EU believes that the introduction of new focal areas of the GEF would need to be carefully assessed, including with regards to its benefits but also in light of potential impacts on the availability of resources for other areas.
• We would like to draw the attention to the proposal on a financial tracking system for UNEP and ask for clarification about the proposed mechanism, which aims at providing a comprehensive overview of environmental expenses of the UN system.
• Given the scale of the environmental challenges we face, innovative ways to provide more financing for the environment will be required in future in addition to the measures proposed by the Co-Chairs. The development of financial mechanisms for climate change mitigation and adaptation should be seen as important elements of IEG, keeping in mind that we must complement and not duplicate existing structures.
• As regards the specific question of private donations, and understanding that UNEP is able to receive private donations to the Environment Fund, as well as to the dedicated projects, we would appreciate an assessment by UNEP about the manner in which this is being taken up in practice.
• While we may see merit in consolidating the accounting infrastructure of similar MEAs, these nonetheless need to be investigated on a case by case basis within the MEAs themselves. How this could be done, deserves further thinking.

Financing for environmental activities can as well be improved through more efficient use of existing resources. This goal cannot be achieved without results based management and cooperation, preventing duplication of efforts and allowing maximum use of possible synergies. For instance, the adoption of simplified and mainstreamed reporting procedures in MEAs covering similar areas could be beneficial for facilitated implementation at national level.

The EU strongly supports efforts for improved cooperation and coordination and utilizing synergies among Multilateral Environmental Agreements. This could not only maximize the efficient use of resources, but more importantly so, improve implementation of these MEAs. In this regard, we are looking forward to the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Joint Working Group on Enhancing Cooperation and Coordination among the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, which will be finalized at the end of this month. We believe that the group has made promising progress and believe that their recommendations will be of great use for the overall IEG process.

• The MEA Secretariats have a limited role in providing capacity building as they are not implementing agencies. It is therefore crucial to involve the wider UN System in this exercise and UNEP in particular. The EU would therefore be interested in hearing what mechanisms could ensure a more effective direction of resources into capacity building and technology support and contribute to the reinforced implementation of the Bali Strategic Plan at UN level.
• One of the Co-Chairs’ proposal for a more efficient use of existing resources was to combine acquisition services of co-located MEA secretariats. The current work within the joint working group of the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm Conventions has further elaborated such issues and this group should be able to present a meaningful outcome for the adoption by the three COPs. The EU is looking forward to continuation of the discussion on the basis of the results achieved in the joint working group.

Distinguish Co-Chairs,

The very evolution of the system and the fact that environmental issues have become more clearly defined and interlinked have created new challenges, which call for swift action and requires a re-adjustment of the system. In addition to this, we are facing new challenges every year because of the rapid deterioration of the environment. Among other benefits, the establishment of a UNEO could enable the setting of a more stable, predictable and adequate contributions, taking into account the respective requirements for efficient and effective operation of the headquarters as well as for the organization’s activities in accordance with the work programme.

The EU would once again like to reiterate its willingness to actively engage in the continuation of the consultations on the reform of the institutional framework for UN’s environmental activities. At the same time, we would like to express our support for the proposal of the Co-Chairs to continue consultations throughout the 62nd session of the GA with the aim of reaching a decision on the building blocks, while retaining our vision of a broader transformation of the IEG system.

Thank you.


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