in Global Governance at UMass & Abroad


Updated: Nov 10, 2018

The Global Pact for the Environment is a new United Nations treaty that will be presented to the UN General Assembly in September by French President Emmanuel Macron.  Should the UN adopt the treaty, it will be the first time environmental rights will have legal and binding power at national and international levels and can be used in courts.

The Pact gathers fundamental and common principles of environmental law, including the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the 1982 World Charter for Nature, the 1992 Rio Declaration and the Earth Charter. The proposal originated in November 2015 report of the Environmental Commission of Le Club des Juristes, a French think tank. The drafting initiative is chaired by Laurent Fabius, president of the Constitutional Council of the French Republic and former president of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference.

With operational support from Le Club des Juristes, a drafting committee was convened in Paris on June 23. The 30-member committee included  Maria Ivanova, director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability and associate professor at the John McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. President Macron introduced the Global Pact on June 24 to an audience of advocates of global environmental governance that included former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng, Chair of the R20 – Regions of Climate Action Arnold Schwarzenegger; and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Special Envoy on Climate Change.

The next step is a one-day conference on September 20 at Columbia University in New York hosted by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. For more information about on The Global Pact for the Environment click here. To learn more about measurable implementation of environmental treaties read Maria Ivanova for Global Challenges Foundation.

The Center for Governance and Sustainability just published a new report entitled “International Environmental Governance: Implementing Reform” that summarizes the discussions of a workshop facilitated by Prof. Maria Ivanova, Center’s director, around key issues relevant for the future of the International Environmental Governance (IEG) system.

Last June, the Federal Office of Envi­ronment of Switzerland convened an IEG workshop that brought together 22 partici­pants from 13 countries and the EU Commission, as well as from international organizations and agreements to Glion, Switzerland. Government representatives to UN Environment in Nairobi and Geneva also took part in the workshop. Prof. Ivanova moderated the discussion, prepared background materials, and authored the report. The dialogue built on the outcomes of an expert workshop on “Achieving Environmental Sustain­ability for Sustainable Development” that UNEP convened in 2016.

The main objective of this international workshop was to identify areas in the system of IEG that require further attention and policy options, including issues such as the progress in the implementation of the mandates established by the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, the potential of UNEP, the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), and the implementation of the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Through the discussion, that took place under Chatham House rules, participants had frank and open deliberations that resulted in the identification of key elements and of areas where additional discussion or analysis is required. Deliberations focused on the status of current governance processes and structures, the relationship between UNEP, UNEA, and the CPR; the role of UNEP in the creation of the environmental conventions in their administrative support and implementation; and UNEP’s role in advancing the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustain­able Development. The report does not reflect a common view as not all the participants agreed on each of the areas of attention.

The discussion is expected to continue with a new workshop later this year in order to move forward with ideas and strategies that support international environmental governance.

Download the Summary Report

In 2013, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon created the UN Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to address complex and interdependent problems of sustainable development and poverty eradication. The Board fostered the collaboration of cutting-edge scientific findings from areas of expertise including the natural, social, and human sciences. These perspectives in collaboration with policy makers will provide in a comprehensive approach when addressing challenges in society. UNESCO established the board and will host its Secretariat to assist with reports, recommendations, and technical support.

At the 200th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board the SAB member presented their report with new sets of recommendations based on local knowledge and science for sustainable development. They also address the role of science and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These reports are linked below.

SAB Reports:

The Future of Scientific Advice to the United Nations Download the full report in English | Français | Español (pdf)

Indigenous and Local Knowledge(s) and Science(s) for Sustainable Development(pdf)

Science and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (pdf)