Issues Brief # 1                                           The Environmental                                              ...
I nstitutional                F ramework                 for       S ustainable                  D e v elopment           ...
I nstitutional                F ramework                 for       S ustainable                 D e v elopment            ...
I nstitutional                    F ramework                 for       S ustainable                  D e v elopment       ...
I nstitutional                  F ramework                for       S ustainable                 D e v elopment           ...
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United Nations Environment Programme environment for development


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United Nations Environment Programme
environment for development

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United Nations Environment Programme environment for development

  1. 1. Issues Brief # 1 The Environmental U N EP Dimension of IFSD UNEP Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC)Note on Issues Briefs: The issues revolving around the theme of the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD) are complex andnumerous and the information that exists on it is often dispersed and sometimes not easily accessible. The Issues Brief series has been prepared inorder to address some of these information and knowledge gaps as well as to assist stakeholders to understand some of the main concerns thathave been raised over the course of recent formal and informal meetings concerning the environmental pillar of IFSD. The Issues Briefs in no wayrepresent a position of any stakeholder or the views of the UNEP Secretariat or its member states but are rather intended to be informative and non-prescriptive. The Issues Briefs will be released on a regular basis over the course of the next 12 months leading up to the Rio+20 Conference. Importance of Environmental Pillar to IFSDBackground linkages between environmental, sustainable development.2 Ultimately, developmental and economic a number of institutions wereEnsuring an effective institutional concerns. However, as stated in the established (mainly under Chapters 38framework for sustainable report of the Secretary-General to and 39 of Agenda 213 ), which weredevelopment at all levels and giving the first meeting of the Preparatory eventually confirmed and specifiedfull consideration to each of the Committee for the Rio+20 by the UN General Assembly and thethree pillars: economic, social, Conference, despite these advances, Secretary-General in Decemberand environmental, is key to the the state of the environment 1992, including:realisation of the goals of sustainable continues to decline and the dividedevelopment. An international between developed and developing • The 53-member Commissiongovernance system involves, firstly, countries continues to expand. This on Sustainable Developmentthe institutions and mechanisms situation is largely attributable to (CSD), mainly to carry out publicresponsible for the entire process, the escalating scale and complexity audits of the performance ofintegrating all the aspects of of environmental change. These governments and internationalsustainable development. At the changes will harm human well- organizations in theirsame time, it also involves institutions being, especially for the poor and implementation and financing ofspecialising in the three key areas. vulnerable groups in society, and Agenda 21;Making progress towards sustainability needs to be addressed through anecessitates both strengthening the further strengthening of international • A new UN Department for Policyoverall structure and enhancing the environmental governance and Coordination and Sustainableindividual components. an expansion of political space for Development headed by an taking action.1 Undersecretary-General atSince the Stockholm Conference New York headquarters, andon the Human Environment (1972), IEG in the Rio Declaration and an Inter-Agency Committee onachievements have been made in Agenda 21 Sustainable Development underprotecting the environment through the existing UN Administrativethe creation and strengthening In the run-up to the Rio Earth Summit Committee on Coordination;of institutional mechanisms. Such in 1992, there were a number ofmechanisms have been established proposals for global institutional • A High-level Advisory Boardto address sectoral environmental reform to address environmental of eminent persons, reportingissues, as well as the inter- change within the context of to the Secretary-General and1 See the Report of the Secretary-General, Progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits in the area of sustainable development, as well as an analysis of the themes of the Conference (A/CONF.216/PC/2) April 2010. Also see the Information note by the UNEP Executive Director, Environment in the UN system. UNEP, 7 June 2010. Available at &language=en-US2 Peter H Sand International Environmental Law After Rio Among the numerous pre-Rio appraisals see P.S. Thacher, Background to Institutional Options for Management of the Global Environment and Commons (1991); J. MacNeill, P. Winsemius & T. Yakushiji, Beyond Interdependence (1991); Falk, ‘Toward a World Order Respectful of the Global Ecosystem’, 19 Boston College Env. Affairs L. Rev. (1992) 711; French, ‘After the Earth Summit: The Future of Environmental Governance’, Worldwatch Paper No. 107 (1992); L.A. Kimball, Forging International Agreement: Strengthening Intergovernmental Institutions for Environment and Development (1992); Palmer, ‘New Ways to Make Environmental Law’, 86 AJIL (1992) 259; Palmer, ‘An International Regime for Environmental Protection’, 42 Wash. U. J. Urban & Contemp. L. (1992) 5, and comments by Miller, Gelfand & Tarlock, 86 AJIL (1992) 21; see also the NGO ‘Hague Recommendations’ summarised in S. Bilderbeck (ed.), Biodiversity and International Law: The Effectiveness of International Environmental Law (1992) 124-156.3 International Institutional Arrangements and International Legal Instruments and Mechanisms.
  2. 2. I nstitutional F ramework for S ustainable D e v elopment issues B rief # 1 through him to the Commission; (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Sustainable Development” deals• An independent, non- Organisation (FAO), the United exclusively with issues of governance governmental Earth Council Nations Industrial Development and presents a set of commitments – established to promote and Organisation (UNIDO), the which support enhancing governance advance the implementation of International Maritime Organisation systems for sustainable development the Earth Summit agreements. (IMO) contribute to both the social at all levels. Specific commitments and economic pillar. Almost all of the include;A special financial mechanism, the above mentioned institutions haveGlobal Environment Facility (GEF), significant environmental portfolios • Article 139 f) Increasingwas also established. which add to and complement effectiveness and efficiency the CSD, the United Nations through limiting overlap andIn addition, the world saw the Environment Programme, the GEF duplication of activities ofcompletion of two main treaties, and the Multilateral Environmental international organisations,the United Nations Framework Agreements (MEAs). within and outside the UnitedConvention on Climate Change Nations system, based on their(UNFCCC) and the Convention on Despite the formation of new mandates and comparativeBiological Diversity (CBD). In addition, institutions for advancing sustainable advantages;the negotiation of the United development, cumulatively, they haveNations Convention to Combat not been able to halt environmental • Article 140 (b) StrengthenDesertification (UNCCD) was initiated change which threatens human collaboration within andand UNEP’s role reiterated. wellbeing. Rather than adding new between the United Nations institutions, measures for enhancing system, international financialPrinciple 4 of the Rio Declaration the effectiveness and efficiency of institutions, the GEF and theon Environment and Development the current institutional infrastructure WTO, utilising the Unitedstipulates that “In order to needs to be considered. Such Nations System Chief Executivesachieve sustainable development, measures could include actions Board for Coordination, theenvironmental protection shall towards rationalisation, enhanced United Nations Developmentconstitute an integral part of the complementarity and strengthened Group, the Environmentdevelopment process and cannot cooperation. Management Group and otherbe considered in isolation from it.” inter-agency coordinatingThere has been global acceptance IEG in the Johannesburg Plan of bodies. Strengthened inter-of an integrated approach to Implementation agency collaboration should begoverning relationships among pursued in all relevant contexts,environmental, economic and social The concept of three interdependent with special emphasis on theissues. International economic and mutually reinforcing pillars operational level and involvinginstitutions form the strongest of sustainable development partnership arrangements onof the three pillars with a regime was incorporated into the specific issues, to support,centred on the international financial 2002 Johannesburg Plan of in particular, the effortsand trade organisations, including Implementation (JPOI)4. The of developing countries inthe World Bank, the International environmental pillar should be implementing Agenda 21;Monetary Fund (IMF) and the visualised as providing “theWorld Trade Organisation (WTO). foundation for the economic • Article 140 (d) Fully implementThe social pillar of sustainable and social pillars of sustainable the outcomes of the decisiondevelopment is represented by development, because life on earth on international environmentalinstitutions such as the International is conditioned upon a healthy governance adopted by theLabour Organisation (ILO), the World environment”.5 Governing Council of the UnitedHealth Organisation (WHO), and Nations Environment Programmethe United Nations Human Rights Contained within the JPOI are a range at its seventh special session6Council (UNHRC). Policy sector of commitments on strengthening and invite the General Assemblyinstitutions such as the United environmental governance. Chapter at its fifty-seventh session toNations Development Programme XI on “Institutional Frameworks for consider the important but4 The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) met from 26 August - 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WSSD’s goal, according to UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 55/199, was to hold a ten-year review of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) at the Summit level to reinvigorate global commitment to sustainable development. The JPOI is designed as a framework for action to implement the commitments originally agreed at UNCED.5 Note by the Executive Director, “International Environmental Governance: Moving Forward with Developing a Set of Options.” Page 36 References in the present chapter to Agenda 21 are deemed to include Agenda 21, the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the Summit 2
  3. 3. I nstitutional F ramework for S ustainable D e v elopment issues B rief # 1 complex issue of establishing that determine global and regional that it is seen as something to universal membership for the policies, which generate trickle-down be freely enjoyed by humans, Governing Council/Global effects to the national level. Within owned by no one and having no Ministerial Environment Forum; the economic pillar, the international economic value or cost. Given the financial institutions, in particular characteristics of the environment,Through the JPOI, the World Summit the World Bank Group, the IMF and its protection would mandate a stricton Sustainable Development also the WTO, provide strongholds for governance structure or abundantsupported the full implementation of economic interests with substantial resources to ensure its protectionthe ‘Cartagena Package’.7 influence on national policies. They through incentives. owe their influence to their ownThe 2005 World Summit Outcome governance structures and their The relative weakness of theDocument set out, in paragraph endowment with financial leverage environmental pillar was recognized169 (A/Res/60/1), areas for further and compliance controls. The by the Secretary-General in his reportreflection on the current institutional institutional set-up in the economic to the Preparatory Committee for theframework of UN environment sphere also exemplifies the close Rio+20 Conference at its first sessionwork. These areas include: enhanced interrelationship between money and (A/CONF.216/PC/2), when he wrotecoordination; improved policy power. that “the environmental pillar isadvice and guidance; strengthened perhaps where progress has been thescientific knowledge, assessment Within the social pillar, institutions slowest” and that “most indicatorsand cooperation; better treaty such as UNDP, the ILO and the WHO of environmental improvementcompliance, while respecting the have their specific areas of expertise, have not demonstrated appreciablelegal autonomy of the treaties; and underpinned by internationally convergence with those of economicbetter integration of environmental agreed standards and principles. and social progress; indeed, theactivities in the broader sustainable While governance structures at the overall picture is one of increaseddevelopment framework at the international level are not as stringent divergence.”9operational level, including through as within the economic sphere andcapacity-building. are less well-endowed financially, Effective management of the the moral imperative for decision environment faces an additionalWeakness of environmental makers to ensure social well-being hurdle in that the environmentgovernance in the context of and the potential political pressure interlinks with a multitude of othersustainable development of a constituency that can speak on sectors located within the economic its own behalf provides a sufficient and social spheres, includingAs environmental services underpin basis for successful action. Within finance and development, industry,social and economic welfare the social sphere, the specialization agriculture, health and culture.and consequently sustainable of bodies dealing with specific issues This has meant that sustainabledevelopment, the governance also guarantees a relatively broad development has not been forcefullysystems of all three pillars together coverage of social issues. implemented, for its implementationform the core elements of sustainable requires the economic and socialdevelopment governance. A The environmental pillar, with its pillars to integrate the environmentfunctioning sustainable development fragmented governance structure into their decision-making processesgovernance system requires that the and relatively meagre financial even while they do not see it as agovernance structure for each pillar means, is much weaker than the main area of concern to equally strong and that all three economic and social pillars. It In addition to the weakness ofbe mutually supportive. owes its weakness to a number of the governance system of the factors. One is that protection of environmental pillar itself, theWhen comparing the strengths of the environment lacks the moral lack of a sustainable developmentthe economic and social pillars it significance attributed to the entity with sufficient authority tobecomes apparent that they have protection of human lives. Another is achieve coordinated governancemuch stronger foundations than does that in economic terms it is generally of the three pillars means that thethe environmental pillar, in that they viewed as a ”public good”;8 in overall governance of sustainablepossess strong anchor institutions greatly simplified terms this means development is also weak.7 The 2002 ‘Cartagena Package’ (UNEP/GC SS.VII/1) – adopted at the seventh session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) includes recommendations aimed at strengthening international environmental governance through improving coherence in international environmental policymaking, strengthening the role and financial situation of UNEP, improving coordination among and the effectiveness of multilateral environmental agreements and further promoting capacity building, technology transfer and country-level coordination.8 In economics, a public good is a good that is “non-rivalrous” and “non-excludable”. A good is non rivalrous when its consumption by one individual does not reduce its availability for consumption by others; a good is non-excludable when no one can be effectively excluded from using it.9 Ibid., para. 23. 3
  4. 4. I nstitutional F ramework for S ustainable D e v elopment issues B rief # 1 agenda and has detracted from the between the components ofAlbeit formulated at the international original premise that environmental ecosystems (e.g., soil, water andlevel, global policies and agreements sustainability, economic species). These processes produceultimately need to be implemented development and social welfare are benefits to people (or ecosystemat the national level. It is therefore complementary goals (see figure). services) in the form of food,necessary to look at the national As a result, the importance of the clean water, carbon sequestrationlevel and examine the governance environment to the other two pillars and reductions in erosion, amongstructures for sustainable of sustainable development has others.11 In essence, the goods anddevelopment there. yet to be sufficiently recognised in services that drive our economy mainstream policymaking.10 and support our social systems areHow strengthening governance derived largely from a healthy andof the environmental pillar Environmental issues are intertwined functioning environment.strengthens sustainable with many economic developmentdevelopment governance and social issues and are intricately The environment, however, is under interwoven with poverty. The threat. Regular scientific assessmentsDespite the political popularity of Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and reviews show an alarmingthe idea of achieving sustainable shows that there is a direct decline of the environment as adevelopment, we continue to relationship between the health result of human impacts.12 Theselack coherent strategies for its of the environment (ecosystems) reports show that, in the aggregate,implementation. Part of the reason and economic and social welfare, between one third and one half offor this is that a lack of clarity has establishing conclusively that efforts the planet’s land surface has beenenabled sustainable development to to alleviate poverty and improve transformed by human activity. Thebecome a catch-all for special interest human well-being will not succeed interim report on the economicsgroups, resulting in an incoherent, where environmental degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity13sprawling and costly agenda. is allowed to continue. Underlying estimates that over the past century, all the resources that we use are 35 per cent of mangroves and 40This situation has done little to ecosystem processes: the biological, per cent of forests have been lost,advance the sustainable development chemical and physical interactions while 50 per cent of wetlands andLinks between ecosystem services, sustainable development and human well-being Human well-being Inequitable economic (including health, security, basic material security leads to social for a good life, freedom of choice and dysfunction human rights Social Economic Loss of ecosystem Ecosystem services functions affects The poor suffer  the economy, while lack of economic the most when Environmental security can lead to ecosystem accelerated loss of services are lost ecosystems10 David G. Victor, “Recovering Sustainable Development”, Foreign Affairs, vol. 85, No. 1 (2006).11 R. L. Goldman, “Ecosystem services: how people benefit from nature”, Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, vol. 52, No. 5, pp. 15–23.12 The international community has continuously synthesized scientific and national reports into numerous global reviews, such as those in the series published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 1990, 1992, 2001, 2005 and 2007, the Global Environmental Outlooks of UNEP (the fourth in 2007), the Human Development Reports of the United Nations Development Programme (annually since 1990), the World Resources Reports of the World Resources Institute (in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008), and the WWF Living Planet Reports (the latest in 2008, but reporting on species population trends since 1970).13 See TEEB (2009) The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: An Interim Report. The most recent report in the series of reports on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity was released in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, at the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. All the reports can be found at 4
  5. 5. I nstitutional F ramework for S ustainable D e v elopment issues B rief # 160 per cent of ecosystem services Overall, the report estimates, failure with dynamic social and ecologicalhave been degraded over the past 50 to halt biodiversity loss on land systems. Since the 1972 Unitedyears. Species loss is 100–1,000 times may cost $500 billion by 2010, Nations Conference on the Humanhigher than in geologic times and will this being the estimated value of Environment achievements haveworsen with climate change. In terms ecosystem services that would have been made in protecting theof the world’s fisheries, 80 per cent been provided had biodiversity been environment through the creationare fully or overexploited and critical maintained at year 2000 levels. At and strengthening of institutionalthresholds are being exceeded: for sea, unsustainable fishing reduces mechanisms. Such mechanisms haveexample, coral reefs risk collapse if potential fisheries output by an been established to tackle sectoralcarbon dioxide emissions are not estimated $50 billion per year.15 environmental issues, in additionurgently reduced.14 to the interlinkages between the These gains have been achieved at environment, development andLinks between the environment, an ever-growing cost in the form economic concerns. These advanceseconomic development and social of degradation of many ecosystem notwithstanding, the state of thewelfare services, increased risk of non-linear environment continues to decline. changes and exacerbation of povertyA stable environment, the fostering of for some groups of people.16 Improving environmental conditionseconomic and social development and to reduce poverty involves changingthe enhancing of human well-being Moving towards better institutions and policy instruments.(including security, the basic material integration of the three pillars of It has been argued that the causalfor a good life (for example, sufficient sustainable development roots of environmental degradationnutritious food), health and good lie in institutional and policy issuessocial relations) are interlinked and The need for growth and rather than in poverty itself and thatinseparable and prosperity and poverty development and the need to protect the relationship between povertyreduction depend on maintaining the and maintain the natural environment and environment is mediated byflow of benefits from ecosystems. are often pitted against each other institutional, social, economic and as opposing objectives. In reality, cultural factors.Goods and services derived from the world’s economies would grindthe environment have contributed to a halt without the services that One of the major policy priorities forto substantial net gains in ecosystems provide. Environmental improved environmental sustainabilityeconomic development, social policy is greatly affected by economic is, therefore, improving internationalwelfare and human well-being planning and activity, making environmental governance. Tooverall. The version of the report consideration of the environment in meet the challenges of sustainableon the economics of ecosystems isolation from economic activity and development, and taking into accountand biodiversity for national and development an ineffective approach developments since the Unitedinternational policy-makers shows to achieving sustainability. Equally, Nations Conference on the Humanthat the economic and social economic planning that ignores Environment, current structures andsectors are directly concerned with environmental impacts may result institutions in the economic, social Printing: Publishing Services Section, UNON, Nairobi, ISO 10041:2004 certification.biodiversity and ecosystem services, in increased negative impacts on and environmental fields, in additionincluding agriculture, fisheries, resource use and human well being. to their respective links, need to beforestry, development, health, Accordingly, the institutional basis strengthened at the international,energy, transport and industry. for decision-making must integrate regional and national levels, soSeveral depend on natural capital for environmental and economic decision- as to ensure coherence, integratetheir flow of inputs, research, new making to create sustainability. policies, limit overlap and strengthenproducts and business innovation. Governance for environmental implementation and accountability.For example, 20–25 per cent of the sustainability is therefore one of pharmaceutical sector’s turnover the great current challenges for(some $650 billion per year) is political decision-makers and wederived from genetic resources, and must promote governance basedecotourism generates around $100 on learning from experience andbillion per year in employment. adapting to change, so as to deal TEEB (2009), The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for National and International Policy Makers.14 Ibid.15 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press See also TEEB (2010) The Economics of16 Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Mainstreaming the Economics of Nature: A synthesis of the approach, conclusions and recommendations of TEEB 5