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Global Climate Change Digest

A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999

FROM VOLUME 10, NUMBER 3, MARCH 1997

NEWS...
UNEP CRISIS


Item #d97mar74

Developed and developing countries clashed in February over how to run the U.N. Environment Program, forcing the suspension of the biennial meeting of its governing board in Nairobi, Kenya. Western governments want to streamline operations by establishing a high-level committee of ministers to oversee operations. Many developing countries, who support the cadre of Nairobi-based diplomats currently in control, perceive this proposal as a threat.

Western critics of UNEP argue that it needs not only better management, but also a clearer mandate. In a recent issue of UNEP's Our Planet magazine, Executive Director Elizabeth Dowdeswell recommended that the agency focus on turning scientific research into policy on global environmental problems such as climate change, and forgo local development projects such as soil conservation and clean water.

The U.S. and the European Union pushed to slash the UNEP budget from $100 million to $75 million for the 1998-1999 period. The U.S, the U.K., Spain and possibly some other governments will temporarily withhold their contributions to UNEP until they are satisfied with steps it takes to improve operations.

The controversy is part of a larger struggle to reform the entire United Nations system, a goal supported by the newly appointed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The UNEP Governing Council will meet again in a special session in November.

See Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 145-146, Feb. 19, 1997; New Scientist, p. 11, Feb. 15; Chem. & Industry, p. 121, Feb. 17.

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