Brussels, 15 December 2011—The European Commission (EC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have been working together for many years in the form of joint policy cooperation, multi-faceted and geographically diverse, which has translated into activities, programmes and projects in areas of common concern. Their cooperation has gone from strength to strength, enshrined in the 2004 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and recently advanced by a Joint Statement issued in February 2011 at UNEP’s 26th Governing Council by EU Commissioner for Environment, J. Potočnik, and UNEP Executive Director, A. Steiner. This Joint Statement laid common priorities on the table, setting a springboard for policy and programmatic cooperation which reflect the synergies between the EU, UNEP and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) priorities.
On the basis of this Joint Statement, UNEP and two Directorate Generals from the EC (Environment & Development Cooperation) have negotiated and signed two Strategic Cooperation Agreements (SCAs) for a total of €30.2 million to support UNEP’s and MEAs’ work. These SCAs are covering the 2011-2013 period of the EU ‘Thematic Programme for Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources including Energy’ (ENRTP) financed under the EU Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI).
At the heart of these SCAs is the recognition by both institutions of the need for a more overall strategic approach in their policy cooperation with improved predictability of EU financial support to joint initiatives and projects. It is expected that this new innovative form of partnership between both institutions will lead to a greater impact and efficiency of their mutual work.
On 14 December, the joint EC-UNEP programme steering committee set up to manage the SCAs met in Brussels to agree on institutional arrangements for the implementation of these agreements and for selecting a portfolio of projects to be funded.
The meeting concluded with the selection of a first portfolio of more than 40 projects to be implemented by UNEP and MEAs in the fields of biodiversity conservation and the management of ecosystems, combating climate change, moving towards resource efficiency and green economy, the sound management of chemicals and waste and improving international environmental governance. Both Institutions already announced their intention to organize a second round of project selection in the course of 2012.