UNEP has been actively engaged as a catalyst in the development and promotion of environmental law since its inception through the negotiation, adoption, and consolidation of global and regional multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) as well as soft law instruments such as guidelines, principles, and programs. Its Montevideo Program has provided a basis for concerted engagement in these processes. The Montevideo Program IV was adopted for the development and periodic review of environmental law for 2011–20 (Governing Council (GC) Decision 25/11 of 28 October 2008). For its mid-term review, the meeting of Eminent Legal Experts was held in New York on 15–16 July 2015. As a sequel, a meeting of Senior Government Officials Expert in Environmental Law was held on 7–11 September 2015 at Montevideo, Uruguay. The report and recommendations were to be submitted to the second United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi on 23–7 May 2016. The third UNEA is slated to be held in December 2017, with a special focus on pollution. (1) UNEA The second UNEA was attended by approximately seventy countries, twenty-seven heads of UN agencies, fifteen heads of international organizations, and 300 civil society representatives. Twenty-five resolutions were adopted, with a global call of action to address critical environmental challenges. Against the backdrop of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, these resolutions comprise issues such as sustainable finance, marine ecosystems, waste management, land degradation, illegal trade in wildlife, protection of the environment during armed conflict, and so on. Some of the important issues are outlined below. (A) Illegal Trade in Wildlife With Resolution 2/14, UNEA stressed its commitment to fully implement the commitments undertaken in UNEA Resolution 1/3 and UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 69/314. It calls upon states to take decisive steps at the national level—as well as through regional and international cooperation, including with the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC) and other partners—to prevent, combat, and eradicate the supply, transit, and demand related to illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products. It also calls upon member states to make illicit trafficking in protected species of wild fauna and flora involving organized criminal groups a serious crime, in accordance with their national legislation and Article 2(b) of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. It takes into account the important role of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and the private sector in this vital process. The resolution calls for collaboration with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and other partners of the ICCWC to support national governments. It is expected that efforts will lead to the identification and compilation of knowledge on crimes having serious impacts on the environment, including illegal trade and trafficking in wildlife and its products. This item will be reported at the third session of UNEA. (B) Environment Protection in Armed Conflicts In a remarkable step, UNEA showed its grave concern in regard to environmental damage caused during armed conflicts as well as its restoration in the post-conflict period (Resolution 2/15). Invoking UNGA Resolution 47/37 (on protection of the environment in times of armed conflict), UNEA expects states to take due measures to ensure compliance with the existing international law applicable to the protection of the environment in times of armed conflict, to become party to relevant international conventions, and to take steps for the incorporation of such provisions in respective domestic legislation as well as military manuals. The assembly called for providing enhanced assistance to countries affected by armed conflict and countries in post-conflict situations, including unintended collateral impacts of related human displacement for post-crisis environmental assessment and recovery. This item will be reported no later than the fourth UNEA session. (C) Mainstreaming the Biodiversity-Related Conventions With Resolution 2/16, UNEA sought to mainstream the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. For this purpose, it endorsed the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011–20) and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets for a 2050 vision, wherein biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored, and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet, and delivering benefits that are essential for all people. It saw the thirteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-13) to the CBD as an opportunity to align, where appropriate, the plans, programs, and commitments adopted in the framework of those international instruments with the principles and approaches set out in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In fact, the sustainable development goals could also promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in various sectors, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism. In turn, they are interconnected, inter alia, with food security, economic growth, human health, the improvement of living conditions, and the enjoyment of a healthy environment. It foresaw opportunity for mainstreaming CBD at COP-13, the eighth meeting of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the second meeting of the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization in Cancun, Mexico, on 4–17 December. (D) Collaboration and Synergies among Biodiversity-Related Conventions UNEA underscored the need for implementing biodiversity-related conventions in a synergistic and coherent manner so as to enhance their implementation, efficiency, and effectiveness (Resolution 2/17). In order to enhance synergies, it called upon the executive director to share information as well as to strive to align UNEP’s program of work with the decisions and resolutions of the respective COP of the biodiversity-related conventions. UNEP was expected to promote the 2011–20 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets as well as to communicate at all levels the importance of the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans as instruments for delivering coherent and effective implementation of the biodiversity-related conventions. In fact, mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services will be an important tool for this purpose. The executive director was asked to submit the report on the progress of implementation of this resolution to the next UNEA ordinary session. (E) UNEP-Administered Secretariats In the significant Resolution 2/18, the UNEA took into account GC Decisions 26/9, SS.XII/1, SS.XII/3, and 27/13, as well as its own Resolution 1/12, for reports on the relationship between UNEP and the MEAs for which it provides Secretariats. Since the governing bodies of MEAs request that the executive director provide their Secretariats, they, in turn, accept that MEA Secretariats will become subject to the administrative and financial regulations and rules of the United Nations as applied to UNEP as well as duly supplemented by the respective MEA’s own financial rules. It welcomes steps taken by the executive director to improve the effectiveness of administrative arrangements, delivery of service, and the mutual supportiveness of programs of work between UNEP and the MEAs for which it provides a Secretariat, including taking steps to implement the recommendations. (F) Montevideo Programme IV’s Midterm Review UNEA recalled (Resolution 2/19) GC Decision 25/11 (I) on Montevideo Program IV, which was a broad strategy for formulating activities in the field of environmental law for the decade, and its midterm review that was called for in that decision; GC Decision 27/9 on Advancing Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, GC Decision SS.XI/5 on Guidelines for the Development of National Legislation on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters; and UNEA Resolution 1/13 on Implementation of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development). UNEA called upon member states to designate national focal points for exchanging information and building capacities for collaboration with UNEP and to guide UNEP in strengthening the application of the Montevideo Program and to monitor and evaluate its implementation. In this context, it laid down the road map as follows: (1) prioritize action on environmental law during the remaining period of the fourth Program for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law to support delivering on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; (2) provide guidance to member states for effective legislative, implementation, and enforcement frameworks in a manner consistent with GC Decision 27/9 and UNEA Resolution 1/13; and (3) prepare an assessment of the implementation, effectiveness, and impact of the Montevideo Program IV as well as proposals for UNEP’s work in the area of environmental law for a specific period beginning in 2020. A follow-up report is required to be presented to UNEA session to be held before the end of 2019. (2) Core Areas Some other core legal developments that took place under UNEP auspices are outlined below. (A) Climate Change UNEP works to combat climate change through climate resilience, low-emission growth, and the reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) mechanism. It facilitates and provides assistance to member countries in climate resilience by using ecosystem-based and other approaches. UNEP provided assistance to Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Lesotho, and Uganda in implementing ecosystem-based adaptation. Similarly, UNEP sought to promote low-emission growth for countries to adopt energy efficiency measures, access clean energy finance, and reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and other pollutants by transitioning to renewable sources of energy. During the past year, UNEP supported six East African countries in exploring their potential for geothermal energy; enabled the installation of three million square metres of solar water heating panels in five countries; and helped eight countries access technologies related to renewable energy and energy efficiency. Furthermore, UNEP has engaged with REDD+ to enable countries to capitalize on investment opportunities that reduce GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with adequate social and environmental safeguards. In fact, the UN-REDD Program, jointly implemented by UN Environment, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and the UN Development Program, is supporting sixty-four countries to become ‘REDD+ ready.’ Several countries, such as Chile, Congo, Ecuador, Peru, and Sri Lanka, finalized or adopted national REDD+ strategies. (B) Chemicals and Waste UNEP seeks to encourage countries to have the policies and institutional capacity to manage chemicals and waste soundly. Its focus has also been to help countries and other stakeholders to implement sound chemical and waste management and other related MEAs. By the end of 2016, with the assistance of UNEP, fifteen countries had ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, and seven countries reported that they had policies put in place to control lead in paint, raising the global total to sixty-six. Fifteen more ratifications are needed in 2017 to reach the total of fifty countries required for the convention’s early entry into force. Over the course of the year, three governments, nine businesses and industries, and one civil society organization addressed priority chemical issues. The International Olympic Committee also used certified gold in the production of Olympic laurels for the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, with support from the UN Environment-led Global Mercury Partnership. (C) Disasters and Conflicts UNEP aims to address disaster risk reduction by improving countries’ abilities to prevent and reduce the risks of natural hazards, industrial disasters, and conflict. In 2016, UNEP supported twenty-two countries—including Afghanistan, Georgia, Peru, and South Sudan—to reduce the risks of natural disasters, industrial accidents, and conflicts. Moreover, it responded to crises and supported recovery in nineteen countries and supported four countries—Afghanistan, Haiti, South Sudan, and Sudan—that require sustained environmental assistance in the wake of conflicts or other crises. In these countries, the aim was to help governments develop the capacity to address environmental challenges on their own. (D) Resource Efficiency UNEP helps countries to transition towards inclusive green economies by working with governments, businesses, and other stakeholders to make global supply chains more consumption sustainable. In 2016, ten countries and one region adopted or started to implement green economy or sustainable consumption and production plans, exceeding the target. Moreover, with UNEP support, twenty-seven countries, institutions, and businesses took concrete steps to make sectors such as finance, tourism, buildings and construction, and food systems more sustainable. (E) Environment Assessment and Information Management UNEP focused on bridging the gap between producers and users of environmental information so that science can be better linked with policies. It has supported global, regional, and national policy-making using environmental information accessible on open platforms and has strengthened the capacity of countries to generate, access, analyse, use, and communicate environmental information and knowledge. UNEP is also working with partners to coordinate global efforts to generate data on progress towards achieving the 2015 sustainable development goals. UNEP reported to the UN secretary-general on six of the goals’ indicators in 2016 and joined with the UN Statistical Division, the regional economic commissions, and other UN entities to help countries develop their capacity in environmental statistics and report on internationally agreed goals. In the past year, UNEP launched the world’s first Global Gender and Environment Outlook. UNEP also published six regional environment outlooks, which are the building blocks of the next Global Environment Outlook in 2019. (3) Convention-Related Developments (A) Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was adopted by the twenty-eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The amendment adds hydrofluorocarbons, which are powerful GHGs, to the list of substances controlled under the protocol that are to be phased down. The phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons is expected to avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100, while continuing to protect the ozone layer. (B) Minamata Convention on Mercury Fifteen governments ratified this convention, including China and Mali, bringing the total number of parties to thirty-five. An additional fifteen ratifications are required before the convention will come into force. (C) Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals United Arabic Emirates and Iraq ratified this convention, bringing the total number of parties to 124. India signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, raising the number of signatories to fifty-six. The Intergovernmental Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean was launched on World Migratory Bird Day. (D) CITES At COP-17 to CITES, several decisions and resolutions were adopted in regard to corruption, wildlife crime, illegal fishing, and rural communities. As a result, approximately 500 species of animals and plants now have protection from wildlife trade. (E) CBD The UN Biodiversity Conference was held on 4–17 December in Cancun, Mexico, along with COP-13 for the CBD, COP-MOP 8 to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety for the CBD, and COP-MOP-2 for the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the CBD, under the theme of ‘mainstreaming biodiversity for well-being.’ The Cancun Declaration was also adopted by the ministers and heads of delegations. It was forwarded to the forthcoming session of the UNGA, the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2017, and the third UNEA. (4) Other Activities (A) UNEP Frontier Report, 2016 UNEP published the UNEP Frontier Report, 2016: Emerging Issues of Environmental Concerns. It highlights six emerging environmental issues as well as solutions for effective and timely responses. The issues include the role of the financial sector in environmental sustainability; the impact of zoonotic disease on human, animal, and ecosystem health; problems of plastic in the environment; loss and damage from climate change; the accumulation of toxins in crops; and illegal trade in live animals. (B) UNEP Ministerial Report, 2016 In the second session of UNEA 2016, a thematic report entitled Healthy Environment Healthy People was prepared in the Ministerial Policy Review Session by UNEP in collaboration with other UN agencies and the MEAs. The findings of this report provide a strong basis for an inclusive economy for the future and link it to ecosystem resilience, a healthy environment, and human health. © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yearbook of International Environmental Law – Oxford University Press
Published: Dec 28, 2017
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