Summary of the session
The session on the state of the environment was divided into two discussions: one on monitoring and assessment and the other on environmental performance reviews. The session was chaired by Mr. Hans Christian Schmidt (Denmark), Minister of Environment. Keynote addresses were given by Mr. Villu Reiljan (Estonia), Minister of Environment; Ms. Wallström, EC Commissioner for the Environment; Mr. Yuri Tsaturov, (Russian Federation), Chair of the UNECE Working Group on Environmental Monitoring, and Mr. Bohdan Hawrylyshyn (Ukraine), Adviser to the Chair of Parliament and to the Prime Minister of Ukraine.
Mr. Gordon McInnes, Interim Executive Director of the European Environment Agency (EEA), and Ms. Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director designate, presented the report European Environment: the Third Assessment. Ms. Brigita Schmögnerová (UNECE) Executive Secretary, presented the Report on environmental policy in transition: Lessons learned from ten years of UNECE environmental performance reviews.
A. Monitoring and assessment
The Conference welcomed the report and called on EEA to prepare a fourth assessment for the next “Environment for Europe” ministerial conference, building on new partnerships, especially with UNECE and UNEP. They also recognized the importance of the document on Lessons learned from data collection for the Kiev Assessment and invited the relevant organizations and institutions, including UNECE, EEA and UNEP, in accordance with their mandates, to provide support in implementing the recommendations for improving monitoring capacities in the region.
The Conference also expressed its support to the UNECE Working Group on Environmental Monitoring in its activities, particularly on strengthening the environmental information and observation capacity in the 12 countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. They endorsed the Recommendations on strengthening national environmental monitoring and information systems and the Guidelines for the preparation of governmental reports on the state and protection of the environment reports in the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
B. Environmental performance reviews (EPRs)
The Conference confirmed that the UNECE programme of environmental performance reviews (EPR), which had been initiated at the Lucerne Ministerial Conference, had made it possible to assess the effectiveness of the efforts of countries with economies in transition to manage the environment, and to offer the Governments concerned tailor-made recommendations on improving environmental management to reduce pollution load, to better integrate environmental policies into sectoral policies and to strengthen cooperation with the international community. They welcomed the report and supported the implementation of its recommendations. They also reaffirmed their support for the EPR programme of UNECE as an important instrument for countries with economies in transition, and decided that the programme should continue.