Support to Africa;
It was noted that further organizational reform must ensure a more rational, efficient and cost-effective functioning of the secretariat as a whole. In this regard, the announcement by Toepfer in his opening statement on Wednesday, that he hoped to reap an "environment dividend" from his plans to streamline and rationalize the administrative arrangements for UNEP, was welcomed. Toepfer said that "savings of nearly 30 percent will be used to fund the programs of UNEP, especially for strengthening the regional profile."
Reflecting the strong support voiced for the Executive Director and his plans during the three-day meeting, the Council underscored the paramount importance of adequate and predictable funding for UNEP and called upon all governments to contribute according to their financial capabilities. Financial contributions to UNEP have declined in recent years. One of Klaus Toepfer's principal objectives in the medium term is to restore the Environment Fund to at least its 1993 level of over US $65 million.
Addressing the financial issue in his closing remarks, the President of the Council, Arnaldo Jose Gabaldon (former Minister of Environment, Venezuela), reminded governments that in the past, they had pledged to increase their financial contributions to UNEP once the organization was on course again.
"We are now on the right track. UNEP is recovering its sense of purpose, its lofty mission," said Gabaldon. "You have pledged to increase your contributions - this is the right time to do it," he said. Thanking the delegates for their enthusiastic endorsement and support, Toepfer stressed that with his first 100 days behind him, "for me and my staff the hard work starts now."
This meeting was only the 5th special session of UNEP's Governing Council. The 20th regular session of the Governing Council will be held in May 1999.
Note to editors:
The UNEP Governing Council, the members of which are elected by the United Nations General Assembly for a four year term, assesses the state of the world environment, establishes UNEP's programme priorities, and approves the budget. It is composed of 58 members selected on the following basis: 16 seats for Africa; 13 seats for Asia; 6 seats for Eastern Europe; 13 seats for Western Europe and other States; and 10 seats for Latin America. The Council is also open to other member states of the United Nations, United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations and representatives of civil society.
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UNEP News Release 1998/31