Promoting regional and sub-regional cooperation on environmental protection

Coordinating regional mechanisms on the environment in the follow-up to UNCED

Governments can initiate regional cooperation on the environment through the following actions: (a) act on environmental matters while respecting the jurisdiction of other governments; (b) co-operate in harmonizing environmental legislation, regulations, policies, programmes and projects; (c) notify and consult with other governments where their actions may affect other jurisdictions; (d) co-operate in the management of environmental issues relating to natural resources; (e) provide for broad participation in environmental decision-making processes; (f) co-operate in developing and sharing environmental information; (g) collaborate in developing nationally consistent environmental objectives and standards; (h) co-operate in ensuring an immediate and co-ordinated response to environmental emergencies; and (i) consult and co-operate in developing and implementing international environmental agreements.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at 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 UNEP should concentrate on promotion of sub-regional and regional cooperation and support to relevant initiatives and programmes for environmental protection including playing a major contributing and coordinating role in regional mechanisms in the field of the environment identified for the follow-up to UNCED.


[Europe] The revised Treaty establishing the European Community (Title XIII, Article 152) underlines that "A high level of human health protection should be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Community policies and activities." This has been reflected in the partnerships created as part of the process of accession to the European Union (EU). The 10 countries with an accession partnership (Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) share the environmental objective that: "Environmental protection requirements and the need for sustainable development must be integrated into the definition and implementation of national, sectoral policies." In particular, it is stated that emphasis should be given to drinking-water, wastewater, the waste sector and air pollution, as well as to environmental aspects of agriculture and biodiversity.

At the Conference of Environmental Ministers in Sofia, October 1995, the Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) undertook to work together on four main initiatives: Local Air Pollution, Economic Instruments, Environmental Impact Assessment and Biological Diversity. The Sofia Initiatives were independently initiated by the CEE and the newly independent states (NIS) governments and represent their intention to establish a new level of regional environmental activity.

The Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Programme (METAP) was launched by the World Bank in 1990 as the main operational instrument for supporting the Environmental Programme for the Mediterranean. In 1988 the World Bank initiated the Environmental Programme for the Mediterranean to address the environmental policy, institutional and investment-related needs of the Mediterranean countries. The Programme aims to identify suitable investment projects and institution-strengthening activities and to prepare specific policy measures based on the key environmental priorities of the region. METAP I (1990-1992) aimed to assist countries in drawing up environmental policies and mobilizing funds to carry out projects in various spheres, such as water resource management, toxic waste disposal, marine pollution control and coastal planning. METAP II (1993-1995) was devoted to increasing investment in environmental matters; in 1995 it supported about 100 technical assistance activities. METAP III (1996-2000) aims to strengthen environmental management capacity, especially in relation to renewable natural resources, and to combat pollution in critical zones. METAP's activities are closely coordinated with the regional operations of the World Bank and the European Investment Bank. Through its support for project preparation, METAP contributes to the strengthening of the environmental components of the lending programmes of both financial institutions. It also links with UNEP/MAP activities that contribute to the overall development of the Environmental Programme of the Mediterranean.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 13: Climate ActionGOAL 15: Life on Land