Latest activities of group Achim Steiner an Environmental Program to a World Organization?2012-02-22T11:16:48Z<p><img style="vertical-align: top;" src="/s3/cache%2F93%2F81%2F9381de0c2f49419c95a455ba4d3f1570.jpg" alt="Achim Steiner plants a tree" width="580" height="387" /></p> <blockquote> <p>by Achim Steiner,&nbsp;United Nations Under-Secretary&nbsp;General and&nbsp;Executive Director,&nbsp;UN Environment&nbsp;Programme</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>2012 </span>marks the 40<span>th </span>anniversary of the establishment&nbsp;of the UN Environment Programme&nbsp;(UNEP) as a result of the UN Stockholm Conference on the&nbsp;Human Environment of 1972.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The four intervening decades have seen a sharp rise in global&nbsp;awareness of environmental issues, and over recent years a&nbsp;growing understanding of the link between environmental sustainability&nbsp;and sustainable development.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Over the 40 years there has also been a series of landmark&nbsp;treaties, many of which were negotiated under the auspices&nbsp;of UNEP ranging from the Montreal Protocol on substances&nbsp;that deplete the ozone layer to ones covering trades in hazardous&nbsp;wastes, chemicals and biodiversity. But there is acknowledgement,&nbsp;backed by science, that despite all that has been&nbsp;achieved the scale of the response to environmental challenges&nbsp;has not kept pace with the velocity of environmental change.&nbsp;Many also acknowledge that UNEP still remains, in a sense, the&nbsp;custodian of hopes and dreams and &lsquo;work in progress&rsquo; rather&nbsp;than the finished item. The focus now is on Rio+20, taking place&nbsp;in Brazil next June, 20 years after the Earth Summit of 1992.&nbsp;Two central themes have been chosen for Rio+20: one, &ldquo;green&nbsp;economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty&nbsp;eradication&rdquo; reflects the emerging consensus that an economic&nbsp;model able to serve the needs of seven billion people,&nbsp;rising to nine billion people, needs to factor in the multiple&nbsp;benefits of clean energy to sustainable transport and the real&nbsp;value of nature and natural resources in order to deliver growth&nbsp;and social outcomes including decent jobs for the young and&nbsp;the unemployed or under-employed. The other theme &ndash;&ldquo;the&nbsp;institutional framework for sustainable development&rdquo;&ndash; underlines&nbsp;the urgency to reform the international architecture within&nbsp;which UNEP sits, in order to scale-up and accelerate delivery&nbsp;across a suite of sustainability challenges. Within this debate&nbsp;discussions are now taking place on a potential reform and&nbsp;strengthening of UNEP, including transforming it from a UN&nbsp;programme into an organization. The question is, would such&nbsp;a political investment in terms of effort and time, bear fruit?&nbsp;Would it empower the world&rsquo;s environment ministers and entitle&nbsp;them to higher levels of authority and support? How would&nbsp;such an organization differ from the status quo in terms of federating&nbsp;a fresh and decisive response to the multiple challenges&nbsp;the world is facing? Would it merely be a grand but ultimately&nbsp;hollow political gesture to a planet and a people in peril?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">To read the full article, order a copy of the <a rel="nofollow" href="">magazine</a>.</p>