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International Environmental Governance

Accomplishments and Way Forward

image of International Environmental Governance

A plethora of environmental problems are ravaging the planet and its inhabitants. How well do existing structures convene governments to address these challenges? What is the role of science and civil society in this context? And, does international cooperation properly support countries with limited capacities? This report seeks to respond to these questions, based on an analysis of actions taken to renew international environmental governance to fulfill commitments made at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in 2012. This report outlines possibilities to strengthen the UN Environment Programme and to enhance synergies among global environmental conventions to ensure that international environmental governance continues evolving and improving to secure human well-being and planetary health.

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Reforming the system of international environmental governance

Environmental concerns are no longer confined to national boundaries, and actions taken by individual countries alone are not enough to safeguard the global commons. International institutions facilitate the collective response to environmental challenges; effective global governance is critical to assist countries in monitoring and understanding the state of the environment and helping to ensure that the biophysical limits of the planet are not exceeded. For almost half a century, UNEP has served as the anchor institution for the global environment, assisting governments in this role. After the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, various assessments of the UN system evidenced a fragmentation in international environmental governance that needed to be addressed. After discussions and analysis led by the UN Task Force on Environment and Human Settlements, in 1999 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 53/242 agreeing to a series of changes.

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