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Ministers to debate global environment Agenda

Nairobi, 28 January 1999 - The twentieth session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme, (UNEP, the global environmental authority), opens on Monday 1 February here at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi. The week-long Council meeting, a forum for the international community to address major and emerging environmental policy issues, will be attended by environment ministers and government representatives from around the world. It culminates in a "high-level" segment from 4 to 5 February.

"This session of the UNEP Governing Council, the world's principal environment forum, is important, not least because decisions are expected on the new budget, structure and profile of UNEP " said UNEP Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer.

"Also, for the first time, the agenda has been integrated into the agenda of the upcoming Commission on Sustainable Development meeting, CSD-7. This enriches UNEP's contribution to the CSD process, and should be a signal to the world's environment politicians that they need to be in Nairobi next week," he said.

The Council meeting is also of added significance this year as it comes in the wake of the inclusive consideration by the UN General Assembly, at its 53rd session, of the Secretary-General's proposals on UN reform, which include recommendations on UNEP.

Debate in the high-level segment, will focus on three key agenda items: results of the General Assembly's consideration of the Secretary-General's report on UN reform: measures and proposals - environment and human settlements; linkages among and support to environmental and environment-related conventions; and, preparations for the seventh session of the CSD (to be held in April, 1999), which will address sustainable tourism, freshwater, and resources and problems of small island developing states.

Important decisions are also expected on the governance of UNEP and other policy issues, and the organization's work-programme and budget for the biennium 2000-2001.

As a basis for its discussion, the Council will have before it the policy statement of the UNEP Executive Director, (to be delivered during the opening plenary session on Monday). This statement sets out the issues that the Executive Director believes are of paramount importance to the Council and will include, among other things, a report on the efforts undertaken to revitalize, reform and strengthen the organization.

The first three days of the Governing Council meeting will be devoted to work in two "technical committees", where the full range of agenda items, including policy, programme, administrative and budgetary matters will be discussed.

As a complement to the formal agenda, there will be special side-events (panel discussions) on a number of topics, including: sustainable tourism (to be chaired by Dr. Richard Leakey, Director of Kenya Wildlife Service), chemicals, forestry, global telecommunications, and the UNEP financial services initiative.

Informal consultations among heads of delegation will be held on Sunday, 31 January, the day before the opening of the session.


Note to journalists:
The meeting starts at 10 am on Monday, 1 February. Journalists are invited to attend. Klaus Toepfer and the President of the Governing Council will hold a press conference in Conference Room 7 immediately after the opening session, (approx 11 am). During the week there will be daily press briefings and the media are invited to attend the various side events, which include the opening of the Nairobi Bomb-blast Memorial Garden in the Gigiri UN compound on Thursday 4 February. (Further details available).

Press accreditation will start on Monday from 8.30 am (contact Anila Shah, tel 62-3089). A daily bus service to Gigiri will leave from outside Chester House at 8.30 am, returning in the afternoon.

For more information please contact:

Tore J. Brevik,
Conference Spokesman
on tel: (254-2)-623292,

Robert Bisset,
UNEP Press Officer on
tel: (254-2)-623084, fax: (254-2)-623692,

Official Governing Council documents are available on UNEP's Web site at

Note to Editors
With its headquarters in Nairobi, UNEP is the "environmental voice of the United Nations system." It is headed by UN Under-Secretary General, Klaus Toepfer, who is also the Director-General of the UN Office at Nairobi and acting Executive Director of the UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat).

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.

The Governing Council 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. All other member countries of the UN can attend as observers. They are allowed to take part in the debate but cannot vote.

UNEP News Release 1999/7

Friday 29 Jan 1999
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