• English

Geneva, 28 November 2000


at the 18th session of the Executive Body

 Ladies and Gentlemen,


 A week ago in Brussels I opened the first Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents which entered into force this year in April. It was a pleasure to start a new process in our efforts to make Europe environmentally more responsible.

Today my pleasure is different. You are not beginners, you meet to take stock of much that has been already achieved, to agree on the work plan, to address implementation challenge of a convention that has already played a role in Europe, a convention which has stimulated European cooperation for years, which in the past provided a platform for meetings between different political systems, which seriously contributed to the development of international environmental law, and which has provided a comprehensive framework for controlling and reducing damage to human health and to environment caused by air pollution. I think that this convention is an example of how much, of what is essential for people, can be achieved if governments cooperate. The importance of this convention comes also from its pioneering role in developing internationally binding legal instruments to deal with problems of air pollution on a regional basis.

Your strength comes also from the integration of both policy and research into one institutional framework. This institutional machinery is a remarkable asset of the Convention. This link between science and policy has also been well reflected in the way the Protocols to the Convention evolved, drawing strongly on the scientific progress. It is always a challenge to bring science and policy decisions close together but once it is achieved, the potential for environmental benefits grows strongly. This is what you have achieved.

I wish to congratulate you on your achievements with the new Protocols but I know how much work remains to be done with regard to ratification and implementation, and how important it is to assist countries facing problems in this respect.

Protocols have not only their professional value, they contribute to awareness raising, they make the Convention a living one.

Let me express my gratitude to these countries who year after year assume lead country responsibilities for various activities. And let me also express my hope that the number of these countries will be increasing. I also hope that in your discussion on funding you will be able to agree on a stable long-term programme funding system.

For the Convention to successfully contribute to the improvement of Europe’s air, we need good cooperation with the European Commission – I hope that our discussions on the future link between the Convention and CAFE programme (Clean Air for Europe) will bring positive results.

I also hope that the American expertise will continue to bring valuable contribution to the work of the Convention.

I know that you have your work well organized. You have efficient committees, good Executive Body, effective process of monitoring and reporting. I hope this will continue, and I can assure you that you will have the ECE Secretariat working with you.

Let me draw your attention to the new policy that our member states have adopted with regard to the potential benefits of cross-sectoral approach to our work. We are moving forward with our efforts to develop links and joint responsibilities between environment and transport, as well as transport, health and environment. You will be briefed on those efforts by Director Kaj Bärlund.

During the last meeting of the Committee on Environmental Policy we had a debate on interlinkages between environmental Conventions and on potential synergy gains between them. This Convention is certainly in a good position to play a prominent role in this process. It is important because this Convention has been an example for other regions and world-wide.

I wish to reaffirm you about our readiness to support all your activities and I look forward to a period of our good work and cooperation.

Thank you.