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Reformed UN Formula for Making Planet Greener to Get First Test

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* UNEP annual meeting to open to all nations, up from 58 * Reforms seek to widen authority in tackling green issues

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JL A. (281)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 7:45 am
Reformed UN formula for making planet greener to get first test

Sun, 17 Feb 2013 10:14 GMT

Source: reuters // Reuters

A worker at London's Chelsea Flower Show examines a grass plant during preparation for the annual show on May 21, 2004. REUTERS/Peter Macdiarmid

* UNEP annual meeting to open to all nations, up from 58

* Reforms seek to widen authority in tackling green issues

By Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle

OSLO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - A new United Nations plan to involve all nations in marshalling science to fix environmental problems ranging from toxic chemicals to climate change will be put to the test from Monday at talks in Nairobi.

The 40-year-old U.N. Environment Programme will open its annual governing council to all the world's almost 200 nations, up from a current group of 58, under reforms aimed at making the world economy greener at a time of weak economic growth.

"A strengthened UNEP will ... improve and enhance international cooperation on the environment," Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP, said of the annual Feb. 18-22 meeting in a telephone interview with Reuters.

Environment ministers or senior officials from about 150 nations are due to attend, out of almost 200 possible worldwide. Until now, UNEP's governing council has left out many smaller states, from Guyana to Albania.

The shift is meant to sharpen world focus on problems such as toxic chemicals, over-fishing and global warming. Getting more countries in the room will not necessarily make reaching agreements easier but should give UNEP decisions more authority.

Steiner said the talks would be a first chance to see how the new approach works. UNEP oversees many scientific studies guiding U.N. work, such as monitoring climate change or the pace of extinction of animals and plants.

Under an agreement last year at an Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, UNEP will get a bigger budget. "By (Feb. 22) the plan is that we will have the final steps in implementing the Rio summit's decisions to reform UNEP," Steiner said.

The Rio deal fell short of calls by some nations, such as France, to create a completely new U.N. environment agency.

"The seeds of what we are seeing will be seen only 5 or 10 years down the line," Steiner said.

"One of the major issues is a new strategy for the organisation and a programme of work for the next 3 years," Steiner said of the Nairobi talks that will lay guidelines for work on issues from oceans to slowing extinctions.


UNEP has registered some successes, such as the 1987 Montreal Protocol for limiting emissions of gases blamed for thinning the planet's protective ozone layer, or a treaty due to be signed in Japan this October to limit toxic mercury.

Climate change has proved far tougher to solve as global emissions of greenhouse gases have continued to rise. China, the United States and the European Union are top emitters.

Governments aim to work out a deal by the end of 2015 to slow global warming and make it effective from the end of 2020. World leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama failed to nail down a treaty at a summit in Copenhagen in 2009.

"On the current trajectory of negotiations it is not easy to see how by 2015 a new framework agreement will emerge," Steiner said. But some nations have been acting on their own and extreme events, such as a melt of the Arctic sea ice, droughts, floods and powerful storms, have underscored the risks.

"It is becoming more and more clear in the minds of the public that climate change is ... a clear and present danger that will require us to act," he said.

UNEP has overall responsibility for environmental problems among U.N. agencies but talks on fixing global warming are overseen by the Bonn-based U.N. Climate Change Secretariat. (Reporting by Alister Doyle; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Teresa W. (789)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 7:56 am

Melania Padilla (197)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 8:10 am

JL A. (281)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 11:59 am
You are welcome Melania

John B. (194)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 7:35 pm
Thanks J.L. for the post. I sure hope the new set up works and I hope you are planning on posting an update when it's available. Read and hopefully noted.

JL A. (281)
Tuesday February 19, 2013, 7:42 pm
You are welcome John. I do hope I find something on their evaluation/results when it's available. You cannot currently send a star to John because you have done so within the last week.

Danuta Watola (1264)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 3:47 am

Past Member (0)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 3:56 am
Thank you J.L for sharing this.

(saved the article)

Fi T. (14)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 4:11 am
There should be more ways to deal with the problem

Ro H. (0)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 5:01 am

Many Feathers (139)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 5:12 am
noted thanks

paul m. (93)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 7:07 am


JL A. (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 7:23 am
You are welcome Bee, Ro, and Many.
You cannot currently send a star to Fiona because you have done so within the last week.

Wednesday February 20, 2013, 12:31 pm

Colleen L. (3)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 1:26 pm
Great information. I pray that it does make progress in a positive way. May all countries follow suit and help protect our planet and the envirionment . Thanks J.L.

Mary Donnelly (47)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 1:54 pm
Thanks again J.L.

JL A. (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 2:13 pm
You are welcome Colleen and Mary.

Christeen Anderson (627)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 2:59 pm
Thank you for sharing this information. I certainly hope it helps.

JL A. (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 3:36 pm
You are welcome Christeen. You cannot currently send a star to Christeen because you have done so within the last week.

Birgit W. (159)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 4:14 pm
It only works if the politicians are actually willing to be involved.

JL A. (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 4:55 pm
Good point Birgit! You cannot currently send a star to Birgit because you have done so within the last week.

pam w. (138)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 10:02 pm
It's about time--but this will take DECADES, if it happens at all!

JL A. (281)
Wednesday February 20, 2013, 10:05 pm
You cannot currently send a star to pam because you have done so within the last week.

Helen Porter (39)
Thursday February 21, 2013, 3:29 am
I really don't know what to say.

I'd have to think this through.

Yet, I hope for the best.

Ben Oscarsito (259)
Thursday February 21, 2013, 5:21 am
Well, most of it was said at the UN Stockholm conference in

Silvia Gonzalez (38)
Thursday February 21, 2013, 7:18 am
Noted. Thanks for sharing.

JL A. (281)
Thursday February 21, 2013, 7:20 am
You are welcome Silvia.
You cannot currently send a star to Zee because you have done so within the last week.
You cannot currently send a star to Ben because you have done so within the last week.

Sergio Padilla (63)
Monday February 25, 2013, 12:43 pm
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