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Ministers set environmental agenda for the 21st century

Malmo, Sweden/Nairobi 1 June 2000 - The first meeting of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum ended here today with the adoption of an action-orientated Malmö Declaration that will help set the environmental agenda for the 21st century.

The Declaration, which emphasizes a major role for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), will provide a crucial input to the UN's Millennium General Assembly in September and to the Rio-plus-10 summit in 2002, which together will set the global agenda for environment and sustainable development for years to come.

In their Declaration, the world's environment ministers agreed that the 2002 conference should aim at addressing the major challenges to sustainable development, particularly "the pervasive effects of the burden of poverty on a large proportion of the Earth's inhabitants" seen against the "excessive and wasteful consumption and inefficient resource use," by others.

"Unsustainable production and consumption patterns in developed countries combined with poverty in the developing world are the two main global environmental threats facing the world today," said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP's Executive Director.

"Here in Malmö, the largest gathering of environment ministers in the history of UNEP have placed these two issues at the top of the agenda for Rio-plus-10 and have engaged in frank and open discussions on the major environmental challenges and opportunities facing the world today," he said.

The Declaration makes important references on many topical environmental issues, for example, recognizing "the central importance of environmental compliance, enforcement and liability." Also, for the first time the concept of a life-cycle approach with regard to the responsibility of the private sector is integrated into the text. (The Declaration will be available on the UNEP web site at

As a key input to the Malmö Declaration, over 100 of the world's environment ministers discussed for more than 10 hours the major environmental challenges of the 21st century, the role of the private sector and the role and responsibility of civil society in an increasingly globalized world. In an informal roundtable style that received widespread acclaim from delegates, Ministers engaged in an interactive dialogue facilitated by keynote speakers from academia, industry and civil society.

Over 600 delegates attended this first-ever Global Ministerial Environmental Forum, which also served as the Sixth Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council. In other decisions, the meeting gave strong support to the on-going over- all activities of UNEP and endorsed UNEP's water policy and strategy, with its emphasis on assessment, management and coordination of actions.

The 21st session of the UNEP Governing Council will meet in February 2001 in Nairobi.


For more information contact: Robert Bisset, UNEP Media Unit/Office of the Spokesman, Tel: (+254-2) 623084, fax: (+254-2) 623692, email: In Stockholm, contact: Anette Tornqvist, Press Officer, Swedish Ministry of Environment, Tel: (+46-8) 405 2027, email:


UNEP News Release 00/78

Wednesday 31 May 2000
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