Statement by Ambassador Takahiro Shinyo
Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations
at the informal consultation on the issue of the institutional framework for the UN environmental activities

10 September 2007

I would like to thank the Co-Chairs, H.E. Mr. Claude Heller and H.E. Mr. Peter Maurer, for the excellent work they have done for us in this informal consultation process. I believe that the option paper the Co-Chairs provides us with a good basis for resuming constructive discussions.

Before commenting in detail on the option paper, I would like to express briefly Japan's view on the issue of transformation of the international environmental governance (IEG) system.

In order to increase the effectiveness and coherence of UN activities in the area of environment, we should consider what kind of merits such transformation could bring about, taking into account its cost effectiveness and financial implications.

There are two approaches that can be taken in the discussion on strengthening UNEP. We can either engage in theoretical and rather idealistic discussions or we can focus on concrete measures such as to develop the terms of reference (TOR) for strengthening UNEP. In our view, our future discussion should be undertaken on the basis of such TOR and attempt to answer the question, what kind of organization do we need to surmount current environmental challenges the world faces today.

Environmental degradation has deep implications for human security, which is the principle that Japan has been advocating strongly. From that point of view, my delegation would also like to participate in the discussions for strengthening of UNEP actively.

Let me now comment on the option paper prepared by the Co-chairs.

1. Scientific assessment, monitoring and early warning capacity

It is important to strengthen UNEP's capacity for scientific assessment, monitoring and early warning. We should encourage UNEP to strengthen its partnership with research institutions and scientific societies, as this will enable it to improve its capacity to engage in scientific assessment and monitoring by increasing its access to analysis and expertise.

2. Coordination and cooperation at the level of agencies

It is important to integrate environmental objectives into national development strategies. We should pursue full-scale implementation and assessment of the Bali Strategic Plan (BSP) to enhance the partnership between UNEP and UNDP at the country level. It is also important for UNEP to participate in delivering as one UN at the country level, as called for by the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence.

3. Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs)

We should discuss the various synergies that have already emerged through streamlining and consolidating MEAs as a result of coordinating their activities by their Parties and secretariats. Initiating a thematic, programmatic and administrative clustering of MEAs, as mentioned in the option paper, could serve as a useful tool for advancing synergy discussions.

4. Bali Strategic Plan, capacity-building, technology support

It is essential to ensure steady implementation of the BSP in order to facilitate capacity-building and technology support. In this regard, we support the idea that the Plan should serve as the overarching guiding framework for the operational activities of MEAs, UN agencies and international financial institutions at the country level. We should therefore review the implementation of technology support and capacity-building programmes including the BSP, and prioritize the operational activities to be conducted.

5. Financing

To ensure UNEP a stable financial basis, it is essential to review its activities and promote more effective use of existing resources. In addition, UNEP should make efforts to increase incentives for voluntary contributions from private sectors, for example, by establishing an "Eco-Fund" to mobilize resources from the general public.

The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) has already become an important financial mechanism for addressing environmental issues. Japan hopes, however, that further improvements should be made in particular in the areas of project selection, institutional management, the arrangements made between GEF Council members and recipient countries, and implementation of projects, in particular cross-border projects. Projects should be carried out in a manner that utilizes the comparative advantages of each implementing agency.

Thank you.

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