The broad aim of UNECE’s environment activities is to safeguard the environment and human health, and to promote sustainable development in its member countries in line with Agenda 21.
The practical aim is to reduce pollution so as to minimize environmental damage and avoid compromising environmental conditions for future generations. To this end, UNECE has adopted a four-pronged approach:
1. Its Committee on Environmental Policy brings together governments to formulate environmental policy and support its implementation by organizing seminars, workshops and advisory missions and providing a forum for sharing experiences and good practices.
2. UNECE also takes a very active role in certain regional and cross-sectoral processes, especially:
- ‘Environment for Europe’ Ministerial process
- Environment, transport and health
- Education for Sustainable Development
3. Through its environmental performance reviews, UNECE assesses individual countries’ efforts to bring down pollution levels and manage their natural resources, and makes recommendations to improve their environmental performance.
4. UNECE has negotiated five environmental treaties, all of which are now in force:
- Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution;
- Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context;
- Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes;
- Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents; and
- Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters.
Their governing bodies are serviced by the UNECE secretariat, which also helps them to monitor the implementation of the treaties.