Recent activities undertaken by the Civil Society & NGO Unit
A. Reactivation of the Civil Society & NGO Unit
In 1999, UNEP revitalized its NGO programme by creating the Civil Society & NGO Unit (CS
& NGO) within the Division of Policy Development and Law (DPDL) at the Nairobi
Initially, a successful UNEP-African NGO partnership meeting was organized in September
1999, in preparation for the International Conference of NGOs held October 1999 in Seoul,
As the next step, an NGO Forum was held prior to the Global Ministerial Environment Forum
(GMEF) in May 2000 in Malmö, Sweden. An NGO statement from this forum was presented
during the ministerial session. The Malmö Ministerial Declaration stresses the
importance of civil society in addressing environmental issues and bringing these issues
to the attention of policy makers. Thus, it emphasizes the need to strengthen them
through broad participation in environmental decision making, as well as with access to
justice on environmental issues.
B. Development of the “Strategic Paper on Enhancing Civil Society Engagement in the Work
During the 21st session of the Governing Council (GC) in February 2001 in Nairobi, the
decision CG21/19 was adopted, calling on UNEP to submit “a draft strategy for the active
engagement of the civil society, private sector and other major groups in the work of
The discussion about the strategy was initiated through a global consultation with CSOs
in Nairobi in May 2001. In October and November 2001, regional consultations were held in
the five UN regions (Europe & North America, Latin America & Caribbean, West Asia, Asia &
Pacific and Africa).
After active discussions of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR), a draft
strategy was finalized and presented to the Global Civil Society Forum held during the
7th Special Session of the GC/GMEF in February 2002 in Cartagena, Columbia. The civil
society recommendations on the strategy were read to the governments, which took their
views into consideration when formulating decision GC/SSVII.5. This new decision calls on
UNEP to “further develop, and revise as necessary the strategy on engaging civil society
in the programme of activities if UNEP”.
In response to the decision, the Secretariat prepared an implementation plan and set up
an interdivisional task group to co-ordinate the implementation of GCSSVII/5. The first
activities undertaken were:
The review, in conjunction with the CPR, of the accreditation rule (Rule 69) for CSOs to
be observers at the Governing Council.An inventory of the current status of civil society
engagement, including that of the private sector, in UNEP’s Divisions and Regions. An
inventory of the current status of civil society engagement in various UN Bodies.
Furthermore, a new “Strategy on Engaging Civil Society in the Programme of Activities in
UNEP” has been developed and was presented in July to the CPR for general comments. In
August 2002, the NGO Environmental Liaison Center International (ELCI) facilitated a
world wide web CSO consultation on the strategy.
C. Activities connected to the International Environmental Governance.
During the 21st session of the Governing Council (GC) in February 2001 in Nairobi the
decision GC 21/21 was adopted, establishing an open-ended Intergovernmental Group of
Ministers or their representatives to undertake a comprehensive policy-oriented
assessment for strengthened International Environmental Governance (IEG). This process
should benefit from the contributions of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR)
to UNEP as well as other United Nations entities, international financial institutions,
expert institutions, major groups, and individuals outside the United Nations system.
In May 2001, the first CSO Global Forum was held in Nairobi to discuss this issue. In
July 2001, five CSO representatives from around the world and experts met with
governments in Bonn to present the CSO’s position paper to them.
The Global Civil Society Forum held during the 7th Special Session of the GC/GMEF in
February 2002 in Cartagena, Columbia, discussed and presented to the governments a common
statement on IEG. The governments took into consideration their views, which were then
included in the draft paper for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
D. Activities connected to the World Summit on Sustainable development
At the regional level
The CS & NGO Unit of UNEP facilitated five Civil Society regional meetings (Europe and
North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, West Asia, Asia Pacific and Africa) in
September and October 2001. These consultations took place at the same time as the
regional governmental preparatory conferences for the WSSD and were a first opportunity
for CSOs to present their regional statements and proposals before the ministerial
The CS & NGO Unit of UNEP supported and assisted the Pan-African Civil Society meeting on
the WSSD in Nairobi (8-12 of January 2002) and the Southern NGO Summit for the WSSD in
Algeria (16-17 March 2002).
At the global level
A Civil Society Forum was organised in conjunction with the 7th Special Session of the
Governing Council in Cartagena. The Forum deliberated the civil society priorities for
WSSD, International Environmental Governance and civil society engagement in UNEP’s work.
The representatives of the Civil Society Forum presented statements on these themes to
the Ministerial Meeting in Cartagena.
The CS & NGO Unit of UNEP attended the multi-stakeholder dialogue sessions during PrepCom
II in New York for the WSSD (27-29 January 2002). In May 2002, at the WSSD PrepCom IV in
Bali, the unit organised and supported the side-event “UNEP and Civil Society: Shared
Environmental Purpose and Values. 30 Years of Partnership: 1972 – 2002” to commemorate
thirty years of natural alliances between UNEP and civil society.
For the WSSD, the CS & NGO Unit of UNEP, together with the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will convene a high-level roundtable
discussion on “Cultural Diversity and Biological Diversity for Sustainable Development”
at Sandton Sun and Towers Intercontinental, Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1:15 p.m. to
3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, 3 September 2002.
The roundtable, will be chaired by the President of France H.E., Mr. Jacques Chirac,
addresses the fundamental issue that in today’s globalized world, there is an ever-
growing conviction that cultural and biological diversity is essential to achieve
sustainable and equitable development. A number of Heads of States, Ministers, Nobel
Laureates and representatives of indigenous organizations and NGOs will be among the key
speakers at the discussions.