The fifth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” concluded on 23 May 2003, in Kiev, with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration, which underlined the importance of the “Environment for Europe” process as a tool to promote environmental protection and sustainable development in the region, thus contributing to wider peace and security. Environment Ministers and heads of delegation from 51 countries in the UNECE region and the representative of the European Commission emphasized their common goals with respect to the environment and highlighted their common dedication to cooperating in achieving high standards of environmental protection.

During the Conference, three protocols to conventions of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe were adopted and opened for signature:

  • Thirty-five countries and the European Community signed the new Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment to the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention)

  • Twenty-two countries signed the new Protocol on Civil Liability and Compensation for Damage Caused by the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents on Transboundary Waters to the UNECE Conventions on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents and on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Waters and International Lakes; and

  • Thirty-six countries and the European Community signed the new Protocol on Pollutant
    Release and Transfer Registers to the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention)

The Ministers and heads of delegation also endorsed the UNECE Guidelines for Strengthening Compliance with and Implementation of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in the UNECE Region.

The Governments of all seven countries of the Carpathian region adopted the Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians, which was opened for signature on 22 May and signed by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

The Kiev Conference adopted a ground-breaking Environment Strategy for the Countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and welcomed the efforts of the Central Asian States to develop the Central Asian Initiative on Environment, Water and Security - “Invitation to Partnership.”

The Ministers and heads of delegation reaffirmed their support to the environmental performance review programme of UNECE and requested that the programme continue.

They called upon the European Environment Agency to prepare a fourth assessment report for the next ministerial conference, building on new partnerships, especially with UNECE and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and they expressed their support for the UNECE Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and its activities.

A number of other decisions were taken related to energy for sustainable development, water for sustainable development, biodiversity and education.

Addressing the future of the “Environment for Europe” process, the Ministers and heads of delegation decided that the Ministerial Conferences should be held on a regular and predictable basis every four or five years, preferably in a host country. They invited UNECE, through its Committee on Environmental Policy and in consultation with other principal subsidiary bodies, as appropriate, and in cooperation with other relevant organizations and institutions, to monitor the outcome of the Kiev Declaration in its work programme.

On the second day of the Conference, a special session between Ministers and environmental citizens’ organizations was held on environmental policy integration. Three important issues were addressed: letting the market work for the environment; agriculture as an example of sectoral policy integration; and overcoming institutional weaknesses that prevent integration.