The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of the second session reports that delegates engaged on an expansive and delegate-led series of questions and responses, including suggestions on the form and content of options.
A Co-Chairs’ compilation of draft elements for “draft recommendations” will be distributed in April, with negotiations set to begin on the basis of this draft at the third substantive session in May 2019.
20 March 2019: The second substantive session of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group (OEWG), established by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution 72/277 (‘Towards a Global Pact for the Environment’), brought together participants in a “results-oriented” discussion that is expected to lead to recommendations to the UNGA on options to respond to possible “gaps” in international environmental law (IEL) and environment-related instruments.
Drawing on a summary of their deliberations at the first substantive session held in January 2019, that was circulated during the intersessional period by Co-Chairs Francisco António Duarte Lopes (Portugal) and Amal Mudallali (Lebanon), and on submissions contributed during the intersessional period by a number of delegations, participants were guided in their deliberations by four questions designed to form a bridge from a preliminary “stocktaking” exercise in January to a process of formulating responses and possible design options.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary of the second session reports that the meeting was marked by a shift from an early focus that was framed by the UN Secretary-General’s (UNSG) report on ‘Gaps in International Environmental Law and Environment-related Instruments: Towards a Global Pact for the Environment’ (A/73/419) to a more expansive and delegate-led series of questions and responses, including suggestions on the form and content of options. These questions and responses ranged from legally-binding to non-legally-binding instruments, a high-level declaration or a UNGA outcome that might capture and collate the international community’s current ambition to “renovate” the IEL system and environment-related instruments. The questions invited delegates to consider options to address gaps or challenges in principles, governance, implementation, and specific regulatory regimes of environment-related instruments.
At the conclusion of the meeting, delegations were prepared to receive a Co-Chairs’ compilation of draft elements for “draft recommendations” in April and to begin negotiating on the basis of this draft at the third substantive session in May 2019. These “draft recommendations” will address, inter alia: a broad understanding of gaps in IEL; principles, their interpretation, and the consistency of their application; options for a new instrument and its legally-binding or non-binding nature; governance and enhancing cooperation, synergies, and coordination of existing multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), scientific regimes, and system-wide mainstreaming of the environment; strengthening and revisiting the role of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), and other bodies charged with enhancing the impact and coordination of elements within the existing regime of IEL; and options to address the implementation gap caused by a lack of capacity building, finance, technology, and political will.
The OEWG convened from 18-20 March 2019, at the UN Office at Nairobi, Kenya. Nearly 300 participants, including delegates, representatives of international organizations and civil society attended this second session. [IISD RS Coverage of the OEWG]