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63-rd session of the Economic Commission for Europe

Published: 25 March 2009


The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will hold its 63rd session on 30 March-1 April 2009 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The Commission is responsible for making strategic decisions on the UNECE Programme of Work and provides a forum for policy dialogue on the economic developments in the region. 

The first two days of the session will be dedicated to two issues which are at the core of the UNECE activities, economic development in the region and climate change mitigation and adaptation, while the third day will be centred on reviewing the UNECE reform and the “Environment for Europe” process.

Economic development

The Commission will discuss the economic situation in the region, including the current financial and economic crisis and consider how the work programme might be adjusted over the coming two years in order to deal with these new challenges. In the opening session on the general economic situation in Europe Marek Belka, Director of the IMF European Department, Jean-Daniel Gerber, State Secretary for Economic Affairs of Switzerland and Alexander Yakovenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation will provide their views on the economic situation and the role of and need for intergovernmental cooperation in helping to address the current crisis.

Three panel discussions bringing together high-level government representatives and experts from the public and private sector will then assess in more detail three key issues:

What are the recent trends and bottlenecks regarding economic integration in the UNECE region, and what can be done to address these, particularly in terms of transport and energy networks, trade barriers, incompatible standards, border crossing formalities, etc?

How do the economies in the region create internationally competitive, growing knowledge-based innovative economies? What are the obstacles? How can UNECE activities better contribute to these objectives?

How well is the region addressing poverty and basic needs? What are the current status and prospects for achieving the Millennium Development Goals? 

Climate change mitigation and adaptation

In the opening session, Predrag Nenezic, Minister of Tourism and Environment, Montenegro, Matthias Machnig German State Secretary for the Environment, Gérard Poffet, Vice-Director, Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), Switzerland and Paolo Monferino, Chief Executive Officer of the Industrial Vehicle Corporation (IVECO) will discuss the impact of climate change on the member States of the region and the mitigation and adaptation efforts that are currently under way. What challenges does the region face? How can the emergence of a green new deal be promoted? How can the private sector contribute?

Panel discussions will then look into the three main areas of action by UNECE on climate change:

What are the prospects for energy efficiency investments in the region? How can private-public partnerships contribute to this? What are the benefits of housing energy efficiency? What is the potential impact of establishing standards for fuel efficiency on the reduction of CO2 emissions by cars? How can the EU and UNECE cooperate to promote the use of environmentally friendly vehicles?

As carbon sinks and a source of carbon neutral products, what new risks associated with climate change do forests face?  What are the challenges of combining multiple roles while maintaining sustainable forest management? How can the UNECE Water Convention contribute to climate change adaptation, transboundary water cooperation and security? How does transboundary cooperation on environmental issues through ENVSEC (Environment and Security initiative) contribute to improving security in the UNECE region?

How can society at all levels be mobilized to support and implement solutions? How can transparency, accountability and public engagement be guaranteed? What is the role for the UNECE Aarhus Convention? How can education contribute to raise awareness? How can Strategic Environment Assessments under the UNECE Espoo Convention and official statistics for climate relevant emissions and the human activities that cause them contribute to factoring climate change into societal decision-making?

At the end of both days, the Executive Secretary will provide a summary of the proposals made for possible follow-up action by the UNECE Executive Committee.  

The session and discussions are open to the public.

For a detailed timetable see:  http://www.unece.org/commission/2009/63rd_index.htm

Ref: ECE/OES/09/P02


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