The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) provides the secretariat for the five conventions and their protocols (the Protocol on Water and Health is serviced jointly by UNECE and WHO).
Meetings of representatives of the governing bodies
Representatives of the governing bodies of the treaties have met to exchange information on priorities under the agreements and identify and discuss possible areas of cooperation and synergies that can be established among the agreements as well as with the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy in light of recent and future key developments in the area of environment. Meetings between the representatives of the governing bodies and the Committee of Environmental Policy have been held on the following dates:
- 22 November 2011, Geneva - Chair's Summary
- 16 April 2012, Geneva - Chair's Summary
- 27 February 2013, Geneva - Chair's Summary, documents: Towards enhanced cooperation of UNECE MEAs: Informal guidance (a live document: version of 8 March 2013); Sustainable extrabudgetary financial arrangements for the ECE environmental conventions (discussion paper by the secretariat)
A next meeting has been proposed for 21 October 2013, in Geneva.
The meetings of the governing body representatives built on earlier and continuing cooperation between the Secretaries to the five conventions.
Network of the ECE compliance and implementation bodies
A network of the ECE compliance and implementation bodies in environmental matters has also been established and met for the first time on 25 March 2013 in Geneva: Proposed Agenda; Chair's Summary.
The UNECE providing the secretariat for the five conventions and their protocols forms the basis for many activities being organized jointly under two or more UNECE treaties.
For example, a joint meting on public participation in environmental decision-making: focus on strategic environmental assessment was held in Geneva in October 2012.
Water and Industrial Accidents
A particularly significant example of formal cooperation is the UNECE work on Water and Industrial Accidents. The Joint ad hoc Expert Group on Water and Industrial Accidents is a unique example of cooperation in an effort to promote synergies among the UNECE environmental treaties. It was established under the Industrial Accidents and Water Conventions in 1998 with the aim to support cooperation on issues related to the prevention of accidental pollution of transboundary waters.
Since its establishment, the Joint Expert Group has produced several guidance documents on different subjects, e.g. the safety of pipelines and of tailing management facilities, and has provided inputs to various documents, e.g. location criteria for identification of hazardous activities. It has also promoted international response exercises on transboundary rivers through the organization of specific thematic activities.
In 2011, the Joint Expert Group began the process of developing a methodology for harmonized contingency planning for accidents with potential impacts on transboundary watercourses. The work is expected to be completed in 2013.
Several workshops dealing with prevention of accidental water pollution have also been jointly organized in the framework of the Industrial Accidents and Water Conventions.