UNEP meets to flesh out 'transformative' agenda

The United Nations logo at the U.N. Environment Program's office in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo by: Linh Do / CC BY

The U.N. Environment Program’s budget and role in overseeing aid projects around the world will central topics of debate at a meeting of its governing council in Nairobi, Kenya, which kicks of today.

The program is projected to receive a significantly larger allocation from the U.N. regular budget than in previous years, after a U.N. General Assembly decision in December strengthened its role at a time of pressing environmental challenges. This week’s meeting of UNEP’s governing council will be the first since that decision. All of the United Nations’ 193 member and observer states are expected to attend the event, which runs until Friday, Feb. 22.

Under the proposed biennial budget for 2014-2015, UNEP will receive $47.6 million from the regular U.N. budget  a $34 million increase from the current one (though smaller from the original proposal of $50.7 million). This is subject to approval by the General Assembly, which, under resolution 67/213, called for a “secure, stable and increased financial resources” for UNEP. Voluntary contributions to the Environment Fund, which cover costs for environmental programs, are expected to increase from $191 million to $245 million.

The proposed budget is guided by the outcomes of Rio+20, a conference last June in Brazil where world leaders agreed to “upgrade” UNEP’s status. With more resources at its disposal, UNEP is expected to be “transformative in nature,” increase its reach and boost its global environmental assessments, capacity-building and technology transfer activities in developing countries, among other things.

UNEP is expected to add nine more positions in 2014-2015, reflecting its bigger role. The program started with just about a dozen people. Its first office was ”above a supermarket in downtown Nairobi,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner following this week’s launch of a book that accounts the program’s 40-year history.

Apart from the budget, UNEP will also launch a number of reports, partnership and initiative at the event, which will include:

  • UNEP’s proposed medium-term strategy for 2014-2017.

  • A new initiative on technology transfer.

  • A new partnership on sustainable off-grid lighting, which will include a number of projects in 15 African countries.

  • The third edition of the Africa Environment Outlook.

  • The announcement of two new National Goodwill Ambassadors for Kenya.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.