Environmental Partnerships in the UNECE Region
Summary of the session
The session on the environmental partnerships in the UNECE region was divided into four sub-sessions: on Environment strategy for countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia; on Environment, water and security in Central Asia; on Strategic partnership on water for sustainable development: EECCA component of the EU water initiative; and on Environmental financing.
Mr. Kalman Mizsei (UNDP), Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and UNDP Regional Director for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), presented a keynote address on behalf of the UNDP Administrator.
The meeting was chaired by Ms. Chkhobadze (Georgia), Minister for Environment and Natural Resource Protection.
Mr. Zaal Lomtadze (Georgia), Deputy Minister of Environment, and Mr. van Geel introduced the Environmental partnerships in the UNECE region: Environment Strategy for Countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, strategic framework.
The Conference adopted the Environmental partnerships in the UNECE region: Environment Strategy for countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, strategic framework as amended and agreed to the inclusion of two addenda. It called upon UNECE member States, international organizations and institutions, regional environmental centres (RECs), NGOs and the private sector to support initiatives to achieve its objectives. The Conference also invited the Global Environment Facility (GEF), within its mandate and focal areas, and in accordance with its procedures, to support project proposals from the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The session was chaired by Mr. Usmonkul Shokirov (Tajikistan), Minister of Environment and Chair of the Interstate Commission on Sustainable Development (ICSD).
Ms. Aitkul Samakova (Kazakhstan), Minister of Environment, introduced the Invitation to partnership on implementation of the Central Asian Sustainable Development Initiative.
Mr. Børge Brende (Norway), Minister of Environment, in his capacity as Chair of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, and Mr. Johannes Linn (World Bank), Vice-President for the Europe and Central Asia Region, also made presentations on the subject.
The Conference applauded the efforts of the Central Asian States, through their Ministries of Environment and Water, and with non-governmental and international organizations, to develop the Central Asian Initiative on environment, water and security. It also confirmed that contributions from donors and other interested parties would be central to supporting the efforts of the Central Asian countries to strengthen cooperation to protect water-basin ecosystems, use water rationally and improve governance to ensure this subregion's sustainable development and its security. The Conference considered that the recommendation to start preparing a partnership agreement on transboundary water problems, environment and security in Central Asia, as proposed in the report would be a concrete follow-up to the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and an important step in contributing to the EU Water Initiative and other water initiatives in the region.
The session was chaired by Mr. Hans Christian Schmidt (Denmark), Minister of Environment, who also introduced the Strategic Partnership on water for sustainable development – Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia Component of the European Union Water Initiative. Keynotes speeches were delivered by Mr. Kirill Yankov (Russian Federation), Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, and Mr. Volodymyr Rudyj (Ukraine), Deputy Chair, of the State Committee for Housing Policy and Communal Services.
The Conference welcomed the Statement on the Strategic Partnership on water for sustainable development – Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia Component of the EU Water Initiative and invited other countries in the region and other interested parties to consider joining it. They also confirmed their commitments to the goals related to water set at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, in particular to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of people unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water and the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation, and to develop integrated water resource management and water efficiency plans by 2005. They also welcomed the recent decision of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development to have water, sanitation and human settlements as a priority thematic cluster for 2004-2005, and to invite the United Nations regional commissions and other regional groups to focus on these issues.
The session was chaired by Mr. John F. Turner (United States), Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
Ms. Berglind Asgeirsdottir (OECD), Deputy Secretary-General, introduced the key issues of environmental financing and briefly highlighted the main messages that emerged from the work on environmental finance in EECCA countries conducted within the framework of the Environmental Action Programme (EAP) Task Force. Mr. Jean Lemierre, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), gave the keynote address. Mr. Terence Brown, Director General, Operations in Europe, European Investment Bank (EIB), announced that the EIB aimed to increase its lending for environmental projects to 25 – 33 per cent of total lending in the EU and the acceding countries, according to its corporate operational plan.
Delegates emphasized the crucial role of predictable and efficient financing in improving the quality of the environment. They called on donors to support these efforts and to cooperate with countries with economies in transition to draw up realistic environmental investment and financing plans at national and local levels. Further efforts were particularly needed to strengthen the local finance and investment capacity by improving fiscal arrangements with higher levels of government, and ensuring better budget management and multi-year investment plans in municipalities. It was underlined that donors and recipients should ensure that all funding arrangements respected environmental requirements and promoted sustainable development. Delegates invited donors to consider devoting a substantial part of their assistance to countries with economies in transition to environmental programmes.
The Conference welcomed the Good practices of public environmental expenditure management in transition economies developed within the EAP Task Force. They also noted the reports on Trends in environmental expenditure and international commitments for the environment in EECCA, 1996-2001 and Environmental Financing in Central and other Eastern Europe, 1996-2001 prepared by the Regional Environmental Center (REC) for Central and Eastern Europe.