"ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE" PROCESS
Mr. Josef Vavrousek, Environment Minister of what was then Czechoslovakia, initiated the “Environment for Europe” process. The first Ministerial Conference took place near Prague, at Dobris Castle, on 21-23 June 1991. Five more conferences have taken place since then: the Lucerne (Switzerland) Conference, on 28-30 April 1993; the Sofia (Bulgaria) Conference, on 23-25 October 1995; the Aarhus (Denmark) Conference, on 23-25 June 1998; the Kiev (Ukraine) Conference, on 21-23 May 2003; and the Belgrade (Serbia) Conference, on 10-12 October 2007. The Seventh Ministerial Conference is scheduled to take place in Astana (Kazakhstan) on 21-23 September 2011.
The “Environment for Europe” process is a unique partnership of member States within the UNECE region, organizations of the United Nations system represented in the region, other intergovernmental organizations, regional environment centres, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and other major groups. The “Environment for Europe” process and its Ministerial Conferences provide a high-level platform for stakeholders to discuss, decide and join efforts in addressing environmental priorities across the 56 countries of the UNECE region.
At the same time, the process focuses on helping countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia and of South-Eastern Europe to raise their environmental standards towards a common regional standard. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, which has been closely associated with the “Environment for Europe” process since the beginning, serves as secretariat.
At the Sixth Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe" (Belgrade, Serbia) ministers agreed to undertake a reform of the “Environment for Europe” process in order to ensure that it remains relevant and valuable, and to strengthen its effectiveness as a mechanism for improving environmental quality and the lives of people across the region. Following the reform, the convening body for the preparatory process is the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy.
The Committee is preparing the Seventh Ministerial Conference to take place in Astana (Kazakhstan) on 21-23 September 2011. At its sixteenth session in October 2009, the Committee decided on the two main themes for the Astana Ministerial Conference: Sustainable management of water and water-related ecosystems; and Greening the economy: mainstreaming the environment into economic development. More information on the Astana Ministerial Conference is available here.