Informal State Consultation in regards with the 73/333 resolution
Report of the first consultation debates – 21-23rd of July 2020
From the 21st to the 23rd of July 2020, States, NGOs and UN organization met online for the first out of the three consultations in view of preparing a political declaration on the environment in 2022.
This reunion marked the beginning of a second round of negotiations, through the enabling resolution 73/33 of the UNGA on the 30th of August 2019. The first round was held in Nairobi in 2019, through the enabling resolution “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment” of the 10th of May 2018.
On the 8th of May 2020, two ambassadors – the Pakistanis Saqlain Syedah and the Estonian Ado Lohmus – were appointed by the United Nations with the task of undertaking informal consultations with the aim of preparing the content of the next political declaration on the environment. The next meeting should be held in Fall 2020, and the last meeting in January 2021 in order to define a framework for the 5th session of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-5) that should be held in February 2021.
General declarations on International Environmental Law
Japan considers that the political declaration should be the opportunity for all States to demonstrate their strong political will to strengthen international environmental law and governance “to address formidable and emerging environmental challenges.” Switzerland also urged that each meeting achieves a milestone and that Member States should be in a position to rely on meaningful input with the end goal in mind to conclude a high-level declaration. In addition, some States demand the adoption of a declaration that furthers the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the SDGs.
A large majority of States recalled the Rio principles, highlighting their importance in the future political declaration.
The European Union (EU) still recommended that the States discuss the extent to which principles of international environmental law (environmental rights and duties) can help in the implementation of environmental law. The EU believes that a common understanding as to how principles could be interpreted within a specific context is needed. Further, the EU and Algeria maintain that the process cannot remain a “perpetual postponed aspiration” and that it is an urgent objective to reach through adequate means of implementation in order to obtain an ambitious declaration. The EU also called for a follow-up mechanism.
Colombia and New-Zealand also wanted that the principles of international environmental law (environmental rights and duties) are stated in the declaration. Africa Group and Chile were the only ones to specify that they were not in favor of having principles in the future political declaration, because it should focus on the means of implementation.
Brazil and Kenya supports the International Law Commission’s work ‘to contribute to the progressive development and to the codification of international law.” Turkey called for a concise and general declaration with no technical details, but asked that the declaration include practical measures of implementation to better protect the environment.
The United States however is still the biggest opponent to the adoption of a Global Pact, reaffirming that it will oppose the proposal to “actionize” working group recommendations.
The Civil Society Group also advocated for “the most substantive and ambitious Global Political Declaration possible, which is action oriented, and contains political commitments, targets and timelines.” Further, the Civil Society Group recalled that it is “necessary to agree globally on a set of principles for environmental rights, along with the recognition of universal responsibilities.”
For more details on each States and Group of State statements, you can read our summary note.
For States statements related to other topics than international environmental law, you can read the appendix below.
 European Union Member States, the Africa Group, GRULAC, Costa Rica, Brazil, India
 Costa Rica, GRULAC, G77+China
States statements on other topics than international environmental law
UNEP role and States cooperation
Almost all States stated that the role of the UNEP as the leading global environmental authority should be reaffirmed and strengthened. States such as Brazil and Kenya as well as the civil society group recommended to strengthen the authority of the UNEP through sufficient funding through the Environment Fund.
Most states also concluded that the political declaration should encourage coordination and cooperation between multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and with UNEP and UNEA in order to enhance synergies among MEAs and to promote a stronger and more coordinated global environmental governance, avoiding duplication of efforts and overlaps.
Means of implementation
With regards of means of implementation, the European Union and Malawi recall the importance of mainstreaming environmental considerations at all levels and proposes that all States should be encouraged to mainstream the environment into relevant sectoral policies, programmes and actions plans. The EU and Brazil also suggested that the private sector and other stakeholders should be involved at all levels in the implementation of environmental commitments, which requires availability of information.
Some States insisted on the importance of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities as a key driver towards identification of shared responsibilities and equity. They also requested an enhanced ambition in the provision and mobilization of sources of means of implementation (finance, technology, technical assistance and capacity building in the environmental field) for developing countries. The Africa Group, GRULAC Brazil and Egypt specified that national circumstances and development imperatives of each country should be taken into account in implementing international environmental law.
Implementing existing covenants
Those States insisted on recognizing and supporting the implementation of existing frameworks and conventions rather than creating new obligations. Some countries such as Brazil pointed out that the ad-hoc open-ended working group in Nairobi concluded that there was a lack of implementation of the existing international environmental norms, rather than a lack of norms.
Furthermore, the civil society group also suggests the creation of an International Court of Justice for the Environment.
Timing of the adoption of the declaration
Regarding the time of adoption of the declaration, China proposes the fifteen meeting of the OP to the Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in China in 2021, the European Union India and Japan recommend the UN high-level meeting in Stockholm in 2022 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm Conference, while Egypt and Kenya recommend the event of the commemoration of UNEP 50th anniversary and Switzerland request an adoption during the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5).