United Nations

A/50/171


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

21 July 1995

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Fiftieth session
Item 98 of the provisional agenda*


ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Strengthening of the United Nations Environment Programme

Report of the Secretary-General


1.   The present report was prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution
48/l74  of 21  December  1993  on the  strengthening of  the  United Nations
Environment  Programme.   In  that  resolution,  the  Assembly, inter  alia,
reaffirmed  the central  role of  the United  Nations Environment  Programme
(UNEP) as  the principal body to  catalyse, coordinate  and stimulate action
in  the field of  the environment within the  United Nations system, invited
the Secretary-General to strengthen further  the liaison function at Nairobi
for the Commission on Sustainable Development,  urged Member States to  make
their  contributions  to  the  Environment  Fund  in  accordance  with  UNEP
Governing  Council  decision  17/32  of  21   May  1993  and  requested  the
Secretary-General  to  ensure   that  the  conference  facilities  in   UNEP
headquarters  at  Nairobi  were  utilized to  the  maximum  and in  a  cost-
effective manner and to  report to the Assembly  at its fiftieth  session on
the implementation of the resolution.   Progress in that regard  is outlined
below.

2.  Since its  assumption of responsibility for  the liaison function of the
Commission on Sustainable Development, a number  of further steps have  been
taken  by UNEP to strengthen this, on the basis  of arrangements made at the
United Nations  Conference on  Environment and  Development and  taking into
account the relevant provisions of General  Assembly resolution 47/191 of 22
December 1992.

3.  Prior to the adoption of resolution 48/174 and following the  conclusion
of  the  first  substantive  session   of  the  Commission   on  Sustainable
Development (New York, 14  to 25 June 1993),  the Executive Director of UNEP
offered to the

____________________

  *  A/50/150.


95-21902 (E)   270795/...

*9521902*
Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable  Development
of the Secretariat the  services of UNEP in  providing for the  discharge of
the  liaison function.    The offer  was  accepted and,  in  February  1994,
following  agreement  on terms  of reference,  a  staff member  of UNEP  was
appointed  on  a  fulltime  basis  as Liaison  Officer  in  Nairobi for  the
secretariat  of  the Commission,  with  associated  logistical,  travel  and
communications expenses  being borne by UNEP.   That  arrangement has proved
extremely  useful for  UNEP  in  playing  a  major  role  in  preparing  for
Commission   on  Sustainable  Development  sessions,  as  well  as  for  the
permanent  missions, non-governmental organizations  and global and regional
organizations headquartered at Nairobi.

4.  In order to strengthen  further the liaison function and  to enhance its
relevance to increased cooperation between UNEP  and the secretariat of  the
Commission  on Sustainable  Development,  the liaison  function  has,  since
early 1995, been  placed with the Division  of Environmental Policy in UNEP.
That move is expected to  facilitate liaison with the  Commission leading to
enhanced cooperation between UNEP and the  Commission, since the Division of
Environmental Policy also  handles inter-agency  affairs within UNEP and  is
the principal focal point for all matters relating to the General Assembly.

5.  In its decision 17/32, the Governing Council reaffirmed that UNEP  would
require access to  adequate financial resources, particularly in  accordance
with  chapters 33  and 38 of  Agenda 21,  to enable  it to  exercise all the
functions assigned to it by Agenda 21.

6.   Despite  the  provisions of  decision 17/32,  however,  there has  been
little change in contribution patterns.   Pledges and contributions for 1995
have  not  only fallen  short of  the  target  established by  the Governing
Council,  but  may  be  insufficient  to   finance  the  Fund  programme  of
activities for  the biennium 1994-1995.   The problem  is further compounded
by late payments.  Governments should make their  pledges in advance of  the
year in  which they intend to pay their contributions and do so early in the
year in  order for the secretariat  to plan and  execute the programme  more
effectively.   Late payment leads  to the need  to carry  over cash balances
from  biennium to  biennium, which  not  only  disrupts proper  planning and
effective implementation  of the  programme of  work, but  also provides  an
inaccurate portrayal of the level of resources.

7.  In  the same decision the Governing Council also recognized  the need to
broaden  the base of contributions  to the Environment Fund  and called upon
all Governments to contribute  to the Environment Fund and, where they  were
already contributing, to increase their contributions.

8.   Despite  the  enhanced mandate  given  to UNEP  by  Agenda  21 and  the
increased number  of assignments given to  the secretariat  by the Governing
Council at every succeeding session,  contributions to the  Environment Fund
are  declining in  real terms.   The secretariat has  undertaken measures to
increase  productivity and  effectiveness,  but  this anomaly  can  only  be
corrected  by  increased  and timely  contributions  by  Governments and  by
broadening the base of  contributions.  In  order to enable UNEP to  respond
effectively to  the challenges it faces,  Governments would  have to respond
to their own decisions to increase their contributions to the Fund.

 9.   As  requested  in  paragraph 7  of  resolution 48/174,  the  Executive
Director  of UNEP has  actively pursued  the possibilities  of holding major
meetings  related to the environment programme in  the conference facilities
at  Nairobi.   More meetings  of the  convention secretariats  were held  at
Nairobi in  1994 than  in  earlier years.    The  Fourth Conference  of  the
Parties to the  Convention on the Conservation  of Migratory Species of Wild
Animals and other related meetings took place from 4 to 14 June, the  second
meeting of the  Intergovernmental Committee on the Convention on  Biological
Diversity was held  from 17  June to 1  July and  the tenth  meeting of  the
expanded working group on the Montreal  Protocol on Substances that  Deplete
the  Ozone   Layer  and  related  meetings   followed  from  4  to  8  July.

Conference-servicing  staff recruited  on  a temporary  basis  serviced  all
these meetings in sequence, thus entailing  savings on travel costs for each
of  the three entities involved.  Several other  meetings under the Montreal
Protocol were held at Nairobi in September and October.

10.   Several meetings under the  Intergovernmental Panel  on Climate Change
were held in November 1994  and the seventh session of the Intergovernmental
Negotiating Committee for the Elaboration of  an International Convention to
Combat  Desertification  in those  Countries  Experiencing  Serious  Drought
and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa will  be held at Nairobi from
7 to 18 August 1995.

11.  Continuous efforts  are being made  to programme meetings back to  back
in order to  maximize the opportunities for savings on  conference-servicing
costs. In  April and May  1995, the fifteenth  session of  the Commission on
Human Settlements  was held  simultaneously with  the Preparatory  Committee
for the  United  Nations  Conference  on  Human  Settlements  (Habitat  II),
followed by the meeting of the Ad Hoc Expert Group of the Montreal  Protocol
from 8 to 12 May  and the eighteenth  session of the UNEP Governing  Council
from  15 to  26 May 1995.  All these  meetings were  serviced to  the extent
possible  by  the same  interpreters,  again  saving considerably  on travel
costs (one round-trip instead of three).

12.    In  addition, UNEP  has  made  a  special  effort  to provide  remote
translation  services  via  electronic  means  to  meetings  held away  from
Nairobi.    This  has meant  that  UNEP  no  longer has  to  send  teams  of
translators and  typists to  the venues  of meetings,  thereby cutting  down
considerably on travel costs.


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