Participants at the Eighth Environment for Europe (EfE) Ministerial Conference adopted a Ministerial Declaration and agreed on a number of outcomes related to the green economy, air quality and human health, and education for sustainable development (ESD).
During the Conference, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) Assessment for the pan-European region.
10 June 2016: Participants at the Eighth Environment for Europe (EfE) Ministerial Conference adopted a Ministerial Declaration and agreed on a number of outcomes related to the green economy, air quality and human health, and education for sustainable development (ESD). During the Conference, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched the sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6) Assessment for the pan-European region.
The Conference convened from 8-10 June 2016, in Batumi, Georgia. Ministers and heads of delegations from 44 countries in the UNECE region and the EC representative attended alongside representatives from UN agencies, intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and civil society.
Throughout the Conference, participants stressed the role of the EfE process in supporting, implementing and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in meeting commitments to the Paris Agreement on climate change. Many of the Conference outcomes represent tangible commitments and concrete actions towards the SDGs. Some suggested the EfE could play a critical role in follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda.
On the green economy, participants endorsed the Pan-European Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy, and launched the Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E), with 36 countries and organizations submitting more than 100 voluntary commitments to advance the green transition in the region. The Framework aims to contribute to achieving the SDGs by speeding up the transition to a green economy through concrete actions to reduce environmental risks and ecological scarcities, enhance economic progress, and improve human well-being and social equity.
On air quality, 28 countries and organizations made voluntary commitments to the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA), a tool providing governments and other stakeholders with possible actions to address regional, national and local air pollution problems. Countries committed to specific actions in five main areas: monitoring; national action programmes; public awareness; capacity-building; and policy.
On Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), delegates adopted the Batumi Ministerial Statement on ESD and the Framework for the future implementation of the UNECE Strategy for ESD. Although 90% of UNECE member states address ESD in their education policies and frameworks, participants recognized that much more remains to be done to achieve ESD throughout the region. The Ministerial Statement and the Framework aim to further advance ESD in the UNECE region through encouraging whole-institutional approaches by establishing ESD school plans, promoting the extension of ESD in teacher education and educator training, strengthening technical and vocational education and training in support of sustainable development and the transition to a green economy, and enhancing synergies between formal, informal and non-formal education, among other actions.
Per the Batumi Ministerial Declaration, Ministers and heads of delegations: value the EfE process as a unique pan-European platform for addressing environmental challenges, improving environmental governance, promoting environmental and cross-sectoral cooperation and information sharing among countries, and as a pillar of sustainable development in the region for 25 years; commit to improving environmental protection and advancing sustainable development in the ECE region, taking into account the renewed momentum provided by the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement; and commit to improving environmental protection, advancing sustainable development in the ECE region and implementing the SDGs. The Ministerial Declaration also addresses commitments to: the green economy; air quality and human health; the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS), among other topics.
In the closing session, participants said the Conference had reconfirmed the importance of the EfE process in working towards a greener economy, cleaner air, human health, and sustainable development. [IISD RS Coverage of Eighth EfE Conference] [UNECE Press Release on BACA] [UNECE Press Release on Strategic Framework] [UNECE Press Release on ESD] [UNECE Press Release on GEO-6 Regional Assessment] [UNEP Press Release] [Conference Documents]