The “Environment for Europe” process has become an important platform for dialogue and cooperation not only among Governments but also with international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

Kiev was the fifth “Environment for Europe” Conference in a process that began in 1991. This process has had a significant impact on the region covered by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, whether in improving environmental rights, strengthening public participation, promoting education for sustainable development, or banning leaded petrol. These ministerial conferences have made important strides in extending the environmental legal framework, ensuring compliance and enforcement of international environmental law, and keeping the environment high on the international agenda.

The process has also led to significant subregional and cross-boundary cooperation, not only through new legal instruments but also as partnerships and common strategies. The environment strategy for countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus, adopted in Kiev, is the most recent example.

Coming in May 2003, the Kiev Conference was of particular importance because it was the first high-level regional meeting to assess the follow-up to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Over the years, the contributions to the process have grown and many international organizations and institutions, such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, the European Environment Agency, and others now take a very active part in the Conferences, their preparations and their follow-up.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has been proud to contribute to the process and will continue to do so.

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to the Government and the people of Ukraine for hosting this Conference, for making it a memorable event, and for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to all of us.

Executive Secretary
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe