Environment ministers from around the world have acknowledged that the status quo in International Environmental Governance (IEG) is no longer an option. A political process for IEG reform was launched and facilitated by UNEP. The process is expected to culminate with tangible outcomes and improved governance models after the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Rio 2012, where the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD) is one of the conference themes.
In February 2009, at the 25th UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, ministers launched a formal political process (the so-called Belgrade process) to consider all possible options for reforming IEG. A Consultative Group of Ministers or High-level Representatives met in Belgrade and in Rome to outline reform alternatives for the environmental architecture of the UN system.
In February 2010, the Consultative Group presented a Set of options to the 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Bali, Indonesia. The Governing Council adopted Decision SSXI/1 on IEG, establishing a new Consultative Group of Ministers or High-level Representatives that will advance the work of the previous group by building on the set of options. This will be done both by facilitating the implementation of identified incremental changes through UNEP in consultation with governments, and by continuing to consider broader reform options for IEG.
On 7-9 July 2010, the Consultative Group met in Nairobi, Kenya. The outcomes of the consultations are presented in the Co-chair’s Summary and Roadmap available from the UNEP website, including a new matrix with 9 of the 24 options from the UNEP Ideas Paper indicating which options received most support from governments so far. The GEG Project was instrumental in opening the ministerial process to civil society and spearheaded the collection and compilation of civil society contributions for the Nairobi meeting. We prepared an analytical summary of Major Groups and Stakeholders Input, which UNEP circulated to governments as one of the official background documents. Other background papers for the meeting gave an overview of Environment in the UN System, a comparison of UN Specialized Agencies versus UN Programmes, an information note on Typologies of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and a compendium of Views on IEG Reform from the Environmental Management Group.
A second meeting of the Consultative Group of Ministers or High-level Representatives on IEG was held in Helsinki, Finland in November 2010, and the outcomes were presented as recommendations to the 26th Regular Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum in February 2011. There it was decided that the process for IEG reform will continue in the broader context of sustainability. The outcomes of the IEG consultations are included in the debate on the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development (IFSD), which is one of the key topics on the agenda for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012.