Published:28 May 2014 (ECE)
Over 150 Government officials, representatives of international organizations, international financial institutions (IFIs), civil society, academia and other stakeholders from some 50 countries will meet in Geneva from 2 to 5 June to take stock of progress made in implementing environmental assessment procedures within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region and beyond. Such assessments are key for Governments and the public alike to ensure that projects, plans and programmes that affect the environment are developed in a most sustainable manner.
During four days of meetings, Parties to the UNECE Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention) and its Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will look, among other things, at how the Convention and the Protocol contribute to sustainable energy generation and use, how they can facilitate accession by countries outside the region and what role the IFIs can play in raising awareness about and increasing the implementation of the two instruments.
Aside from providing the platform for decisions on priorities and the budget for the next three years, the meeting will have three special thematic sessions in the form of seminars or a panel discussion.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, 3 June, a seminar on wind and hydro energy will look at good practice in the application of the Convention and the Protocol and will examine issues of landscape analysis, spatial planning and environmental challenges in the framework of environmental assessment for such activities and plans.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, 4 June, a seminar on the globalization of the Convention and the Protocol and the role of international financial institutions will be held, moderated by the European Investment Bank (EIB), to discuss the application of the Convention and the Protocol outside the UNECE region. The seminar aims to provide some insights regarding interested countries’ practice and development needs for their possible future accession to the two instruments. Participants will then explore ways to raise awareness of the two UNECE treaties in other regions and how the IFIs could support the development of the necessary legislation and institutional capacity for the implementation of the Convention and the Protocol in countries outside the region. The law and practice of a number of countries in the African and Asian regions will be examined. Representatives from the World Bank, EIB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank and the Department for International Development (United Kingdom) will showcase their experience in applying environmental assessment in their operations within and beyond the UNECE region, and leading civil society organizations, such as Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) Bankwatch Network and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), will give presentations to further stimulate discussion.
On the morning of Thursday, 5 June, at the high-level segment, a panel discussion on the application of the Convention and the Protocol to energy-related matters will be held. Under the direction of Mr. Valentinas Mazuronis, Minister for Environment of Lithuania, and Mr. Andriy Mokhnyk, Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of Ukraine, participants will examine achievements, lessons learned and remaining challenges in this area, in particular through recent case-studies, such as the Nord Stream gas pipeline project in the Baltic Sea and the Cernavodă nuclear power plant in Romania. Participants will then reflect on how to improve implementation of the Convention and the Protocol for energy-related projects, plans and policies, looking, in particular, at the practice in the countries of Eastern-Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia in the energy sector and the role of Euratom.
The adoption of a Declaration on Thursday afternoon, focusing on the areas examined during the seminars and panel discussions over the course of the 4-day meeting, will mark the end of the joint session.
Meeting documents are available at the Convention’s website http://www.unece.org/env/eia/meetings/mop_6.html.
Development in today’s context is at a critical juncture, with multiple crises (financial, food and energy) forcing us to re-assess the economic paradigm of our time and evaluate how to better address the unfulfilled promises that we are currently leaving to future generations in areas of employment, social progress, quality of life and respect for nature.
While the integration of the pillars of sustainable development is of utmost importance, the implementation of the concept has proved challenging in practice. In its simplest form, integration of the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development implies the implementation of coordinated and complimentary actions in the different sectors which results in economic growth that also achieves social objectives, without compromising the limited resources of the planet. The effective integration of the pillars requires the implementation of a set of focused and specific actions within the three pillars, which are complimentary and fit within an overarching sustainable development framework.
As part of this side event, Member States and the Regional Commissions are focusing on key areas for sustainable development in their respective regions. Specific examples and approaches, ranging from norms and standards to economic instruments and overarching sustainable development frameworks, are being highlighted as contributing to the integration of the pillars of sustainable development. These areas serve to highlight the pivotal role that has been played by the Regional Commissions in promoting and implementing an integrated approach to sustainable development at the regional level.
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Each of the regions is being affected differently by climate change according to their particular circumstances and conditions and will have to implement measures to minimize and address these impacts through a combination of mitigation and adaptation measures. In order to make informed decisions about climate change policies and plans, countries need to: know how their economies will be affected by the impacts of climate change; be aware about the costs of inaction; and estimate the costs of different options for mitigation and adaptation to confront climate change in cost-effective manner.
Working with their UN and other regional partners, the Regional Commissions are mobilizing their normative, analytical and technical capacities to undertake collaborative initiatives and actions to assist Member States to develop coherent development policies that tackle climate change, including through the assessment of the economic impacts of climate change, evaluating the costs of mitigation and adaptation measures and exploring options for climate change financing. An overview of these actions and initiatives in each region will be presented during the dialogue with the Second Committee.
(Please click and download the following documents below for your information)
Financing Global Climate Change Mitigation (Joint Publication)
The United Nations Regional Commissions and Climate Change Challenges (Joint Publication)
Brochure – Climate Change: Supporting Actions at the Regional Level