“ENVIRONMENT FOR EUROPE”. Counting down to the Sixth Ministerial Conference (Belgrade, Serbia, 10-12 October 2007)

Geneva, 21 September 2007 - Environment ministers throughout the UNECE region are gearing up for the Sixth “Environment for Europe” Conference, scheduled to take place at the SAVA Centre in the Serbian capital of Belgrade from 10 to 12 October. In Belgrade, they will take stock of progress made in improving the region’s environment since their previous meeting in Kiev four years ago, and decide on priorities for future cooperation.

The Belgrade Conference will gather more than 1,200 delegates representing the 56 countries of the UNECE region. More than 20 intergovernmental organizations will also be attending the Conference. At least 50 ministers and high-level officials are expected to participate, as will more than 200 representatives of national and international non-governmental organizations, including environmental NGOs, business, trade unions and local authorities.

Busy agenda


The Environment ministers are expected to hold policy debates on a number of topical environment-related issues.

An assessment and implementation segment will set the scene for the Conference. A state-of-the-environment and monitoring and assessment session will focus on identifying key trends and main areas of both achievements and concern. The implementation of multilateral environmental agreements and findings of UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews will then be reviewed.

As part of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), a session on ESD will gather environment and education ministers from the countries that have adopted the UNECE Strategy on ESD in March 2005, as well as other interested member States.

A session on biodiversity, focused on the key themes of the Kiev Resolution on Biodiversity, aims to draft and adopt recommendations supporting the follow-up of the Kiev Resolution and delivery of the target to hold the loss of biodiversity by 2010 in participating countries.

On the second day, a capacity-building segment will examine progress and perspectives in the implementation of the Environment Strategy for the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia as well as that of the Central Asian Initiative for Sustainable Development. In addition, the segment will address South-East European perspectives.

Partnerships will also figure prominently on the ministers’ agenda. In the context of environmental policy, international competitiveness and finance, a session on regional partnerships will attempt to clarify in particular whether the low-income countries with economies in transition in the UNECE region can afford a better environment and improve their international economic competitiveness. It will also discuss how partnerships can support the implementation of environmental policy.

The final section of the Conference will be dedicated to the future of the Environment for Europe process. This implies adapting the process to the changing geo-political context and establishing thematic priorities. The Belgrade Conference will conclude with the adoption of a Ministerial Declaration.

Workshop for journalists

UNECE will be organizing a workshop for journalists on 9 October which will provide background information on the range of issues to be addressed by the Conference through a series of presentations and discussions. The workshop will take place at the SAVA Centre in Belgrade.

From Dobris to Belgrade


The Belgrade Conference will be the sixth in a series of regional conferences at which environment ministers and other policymakers have convened to discuss ways of strengthening cooperation to protect and improve our environment. The “Environment for Europe” process is aimed at harmonizing environmental conditions and policies in all UNECE member States. The ultimate goal is to raise standards globally.

The “Environment for Europe” ministerial process was initiated in 1991 by what was then Czechoslovakia. The first conference took place in Dobris Castle outside Prague; the second in 1993 in Lucerne, Switzerland; the third in 1995 in Sofia; the fourth in 1998 in Aarhus, Denmark, and the fifth in 2003 in Kiev.

During these Conferences, Europe’s Environment Ministers have launched new initiatives, discussed the state of the environment, adopted international environmental laws and agreed on specific strategies to improve our environment and our health. Increasingly, the “Environment for Europe” Conferences have also provided an opportunity for environmental policymakers to meet business leaders and NGOs.

The UNECE has been involved in the “Environment for Europe” process since its beginnings: it hosts the working group that prepares these Conferences and also draws up important policy documents and international agreements for adoption by the ministers. Other international organizations and institutions are important partners in the process. Many will be represented in Belgrade in October, including the World Bank, EEA, OECD, OSCE, EBRD, UNEP, UNITAR, UNESCO, etc.

For more information, please contact:

Kaj Bärlund
Director, Environment, Housing and
Land Management Division
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Phone: +41 (0) 22 917 2370
E-mail: efe@unece.org

Monika Linn
Team Leader, Environment for Europe and
Sustainable Development Team
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Phone: +41 (0) 22 917 1315
E-mail: efe@unece.org

Website: http://www.unece.org/env/