Integrating environmental concerns in regional development policies

Making coherent regional environment policy
There is a need for better integration of international action to improve the environment - particularly in relation to regional and multilateral environment agreements. Since many environmental problems extend beyond national boundaries, the development of regional levels of governance, through regional conventions, economic cooperation organizations, and even unions of governments, is creating institutional structures able to respond to transboundary environmental issues.
There is a need to promote sustainable development as the central theme in policies relating to agriculture, trade, investment, research and development, infrastructure and finance by stressing the high economic and social value of environmental goods and services, and the high costs of poor environmental management.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at the [United Nations Conference on Environment and Development] (UNCED) (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends that UN regional commissions, development banks and economic cooperation organizations promote the integration of environmental concerns in regional and sub-regional development policies.

The unification of Europe and the expansion of the European Union incorporates environmental considerations. The [Maastricht Treaty] and [Amsterdam Treaty] have placed sustainable development squarely on the European Union policy agenda, as has Agenda 2000. The current trend in the European Union to go for 'framework' legislation is having an impact on the environment at national and regional levels. The environmental steps required of countries before they can join will strengthen the region's response to its environmental problems.

The [Environmental Programme for Europe] is a non-binding programme, endorsed by the UN/ECE governments and the European Commission at the [Environment for Europe] conference in Sofia in 1995. The Programme sets out long-term environmental policy priorities at the pan-European level to serve as a framework for the coordination of national and international efforts to improve environmental conditions throughout Europe and to promote convergence of environmental quality and policies. The Programme contains many policy actions and other recommendations, such as for "Sustainable Management of Natural Resources", "Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries" and "Biological and Landscape Diversity". Regarding the latter, the implementation of the [Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy] and its integration with other policy actions of the Programme is recommended. The Programme also supports the implementation of the [Convention on Biological Diversity], other relevant legally binding instruments in the region and the [Arctic Environment Protection Strategy]. The [Mediterranean Action Plan, 1975] (MAP) is intended to assist the Mediterranean governments in formulating national policies relating to the development and protection of the Mediterranean area and to improve their ability to identify various options for alternative patterns of development, to make choices and to allocate resources. The plan consists of three components: (1) the framework convention with related protocols and technical annexes (the legal component); (2) a coordinated programme for research, monitoring and exchange of information and the assessment of the state of pollution and of protection measures (the assessment/scientific/technical component, or "Med-Pol"); (3) integrated planning of the development and management of the resources of the Mediterranean Basin (the management/socio-economic component, or the "Blue Plan"). All three components of MAP are interdependent and provide a framework for comprehensive action to promote both the protection and the continued development of the Mediterranean region.

In general, MAP has stimulated a collective awareness of the Mediterranean as a common heritage. Through Med-Pol, emission standards and environmental quality objectives for coastal waters and marine organisms are being agreed. Between 1985 and 1989, a large number of common quality objectives for the Mediterranean were adopted by the contracting parties to the Barcelona Convention. However, in themselves the [Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance] under the [Barcelona Convention] are not enough to safeguard critical species, so action plans coordinated by MAP through the Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas, were adopted for the monk seal in 1987, for marine turtles in 1989 and for cetaceans in 1991. MAP recently entered Phase II with a new Action Plan. Inspired by Agenda 21, the plan focuses on the pressing environmental needs that have to be addressed in the region. Rather than fixing priorities and schedules for a series of actions, the plan aims to secure sustainable development, to protect the marine environment and its coastal zones, to protect nature and landscapes and to strengthen the solidarity between Mediterranean states in managing their common heritage and resources for the benefit of present and future generations. Until 1980 MAP was supported almost entirely by UNEP. Since then UNEP has sought to transfer more responsibility to the parties themselves.

Type Classification:
G: Very Specific strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 2: Zero HungerGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 4: Quality EducationGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong InstitutionsGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal