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Cablegate: Unece Forum for the Environment Hanging in the Balance

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RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDF RUEHHM RUEHIK RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHMA RUEHPB
RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHTM
DE RUEHGV #0927/01 3101351
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051351Z NOV 08
FM USMISSION GENEVA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7387
INFO RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2858
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1825
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHSUN/USUN ROME IT

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GENEVA 000927

SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/EGC FOR GTHOMPSON
STATE FOR OES/ENV FOR JMATUSZAK, ASALZBERG
STATE FOR IO/EDA FOR RWEBBER
STATE FOR EUR/PGI FOR DTESSLER
NAIROBI FOR USUNEP FOR JSTEWART
EU EMBASSIES FOR EST OFFICERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG SENV EIND UN ECE ECOSOC
SUBJECT: UNECE Forum for the Environment Hanging in the Balance

1. Summary. The UN Economic Commission for Europe's (UNECE)
Committee on Environmental Policy (CEP) met Oct 13-15, to seek
agreement on a reform to the Environment for Europe Ministerial
Conference (EfE). While progress was made, there was no negotiated
outcome. The major sticking points continue to be in the details of
the Conference process and whether the Conference should be used to
launch regional and sub-regional legally binding agreements. The
committee hosted a roundtable discussion on public private
partnerships and possible future cooperation with private sector
representatives. The CEP also discussed work on environmental
monitoring and the possible launch of a joint task force with the
Conference of European Statisticians on environmental indicators.
End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Reform of the Environment for Europe Ministerial
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. The UN Economic Commission for Europe's (UNECE) Committee on
Environmental Policy (CEP) has served as the sponsor of the
Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference (EfE) since it began
in 1991. At the sixth EfE in October 2007, it was decided that the
EfE process needs substantial reform if it is to remain as a program
of UNECE CEP under the Secretariat of the Housing and Land
Management Directorate. The EfE reform process was given a deadline
of March 2009, the next meeting of the UNECE, to negotiate an
outcome of the reform process.

3. Because scant progress was made in the October CEP meeting, the
CEP will hold a special session for a final round of negotiations on
January 27-29, 2009. If an agreement is reached by the CEP during
this session, it will be forwarded for endorsement to the UNECE
March meeting. Should the EfE be endorsed, the next Conference is
tentatively scheduled for 2011 in Kazakhstan. If an agreement on
the reform process can not be reached the Conference could still go
forward, but not under the leadership of the UNECE.

4. The primary issue in the EfE reform negotiations is the costs and
benefits of the process to the UNECE and the member states. In each
of the last two EfEs, the UNECE preparatory process took over two
years. For each of the Conferences, the negotiation of agenda
topics and a ministerial declaration resulted in more than six
extraordinary negotiating sessions and dominated regular meetings.
The declarations, which approached 20 pages, lacked focus and
provided limited added value considering the high preparatory cost.
Instead of fostering a common commitment to addressing common
environmental problems and assisting the countries of South East and
Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia, the process was more
often divisive. Some governments sought to utilize the forum to
advance positions on issues for which the UNECE has no role.

5. The U.S. is opposing the inclusion of a negotiated UNECE
Ministerial Declaration as an outcome of the EfE Conference. The
focus on Ministerial Declarations detracts attention from the
organization of the Conferences, which have not evolved past the
rather stale tradition of a parade of Ministers delivering prepared
remarks to a half empty room.

6. The U.S. also objects to using the EfE to launch new processes
leading to negotiated regional and sub-regional agreements. The
UNECE CEP is already home to five legally binding regional
environmental agreements and over a dozen protocols to those
agreements. While all member governments agree that the UNECE needs
to focus its attention on implementation and compliance with
commitments already undertaken, some Governments are insisting that
the launching of new agreements is crucial to the UNECE process.

-------------------
Additional Business
-------------------

7. While the UNECE CEP encourages robust participation from
environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, they have not
encouraged participation from the private sector. After
considerable efforts by the U.S., this meeting convened two
roundtables with representatives of the private sector including
representatives of the World Business Council for Sustainable
Development, the World Economic Forum and individual company
representatives. The panels explored business and government

GENEVA 00000927 002 OF 002


perspectives on "public private partnerships" generally and more
specifically on the topic of water. Both groups expressed the
desire to explore opportunities to work together. Business stressed
two points in creating successful public private partnerships: the
need to establish regular channels of communication and
participation; and the importance of finding common cause in
environment and sustainable development issues. Industry
representatives underscored the latter point by emphasizing that
corporate social responsibility programs are not charities; there is
an economic benefit to their activities.

8. The ECE reviewed and renewed the mandate of the Working Party on
Environmental Monitoring. The group has sought to foster capacity
and seek common approaches to environmental monitoring between
developed country governments and those from countries with
Economies in Transition in the UNECE. One of the more successful
outcomes of this group is a proposed joint task force with the
Conference of European Statisticians, which, in spite of its name,
includes North American representatives as well as all OECD
countries, the UN, and IFI statistical offices. This task force
would look at environmental indicators; a scope of work that builds
on the other work the Conference has undertaken on indicators for
Sustainable Development.

STORELLA

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