World Environment Ministers Signal Resolve to Realize Sustainable Development

February 26, 2010

Full title:

World Environment Ministers Signal Resolve to Realize Sustainable Development

Accelerating a Green Economy to Cooperative Action to Protect Human Health and Combat Climate Change Gets Support at Bali Meeting

11th Special Session of the UN Environment Programme's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum

United Nations Environment Programme

Bali (Indonesia) - In the first landmark Declaration issued by ministers of the environment in a decade, governments pledged to step up the global response to the major environmental and sustainability challenges of this generation.

The wide-ranging Nusa Dua Declaration, agreed today in the closing session of the UN Environment Programme's (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, underlines the vital importance of biodiversity, the urgent need to combat climate change and work towards a good outcome in Mexico later in the year and the key opportunities from accelerating a transition to a low-carbon resource-efficient Green Economy.

The statement also highlights the need to improve the overall management of the global environment, accepting that that 'governance architecture' has in many ways become too complex and fragmented.

An important step forward was made earlier in the week in the areas of chemicals, hazardous wastes and human health. Governments agreed at an Extraordinary Meeting to have more cooperative action by the three relevant treaties-the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions - as a first step to boosting their delivery within countries.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director, said: "The ministers responsible for the environment, meeting just over a month after the climate change conference in Copenhagen, have spoken with a clear, united and unequivocal voice."

"Faced with the continued erosion of the natural environment, the persistent and emerging challenges of chemical pollution and wastes and the overarching challenge of issues such as climate change, the status quo is not an option and change is urgently needed," he added.

"This change starts with recognition that the way we are managing the environmental dimension of sustainable development is currently too complex and fragmented. Change is needed here and the ministers signaled their determination to realize this through a political process," said Mr. Steiner.

"But the ministers also recognized that action towards a Green Economy -one able to meet multiple challenges and seize multiple opportunities- is taking route in economies across the globe. Accelerating this is a key element of the Nusa Dua Declaration and one that can direct future action towards realizing the kinds of transitions needed on a planet of six billion people, rising to nine billion by 2050," he added.

The Declaration, the first by world environment ministers since they met in Malmö, Sweden in 2000, will be transmitted to the UN General Assembly later this year.

There governments will begin preparations for a landmark conference in Brazil, called Rio plus 20.

Rio plus 20 comes two decades after the first Rio Earth Summit, which gave birth to many of the key treaties, ranging from climate change to biodiversity, which to date have defined the international response to environmental challenges.

Green Economy

Case studies, illuminating the multiple benefits of a Green Economy, were presented to delegates in advance of a landmark Green Economy report to be released later this year.


- The area of land under organic agriculture has risen from 185,000 hectares in 2004 to close to 300,000 hectares in 2008, with a 360 per cent rise in the number of farmers engaged in the sector - from 45,000 certified farmers to 207,000.

- Certified organic exports have risen from US$3.7 million in 2003-2004 to US$22.8 million in 2007-2008.

- The country is also contributing to combating climate change. C02 emissions per hectare are up to 68 per cent less than on conventionally farmed land, with studies indicating that organic fields sequester 3-8 tonnes more carbon per hectare.


- More than 10 per cent of Chinese households rely on the sun to heat their water, with more than 40 million solar water heating systems in place.

- The renewable energy sector as a whole generates output worth US$17 billion and employs 1 million workers, of which 600,000 are employed in solar thermal panel making and installing products, such as solar water heaters.

- The warm water from solar water heaters is also reducing rheumatoid arthritis among women as they now have hot water for laundry and dishwashing done by hand instead of only cold water.


- The city of Curitiba has, through sustainable urban planning and transport, cut per capita loss from severe congestion. It is about 6.7 and 11 times less than per capita losses in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

- In 2002, Curitiba's annual fuel losses from severe traffic congestion equaled R$1.98 million (US$930,000). On per capita terms, this loss is about 13 times and 4.3 times less than those in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

- Curitiba's fuel usage is also 30 per cent lower than in Brazil's other major cities.

Other Highlights of the UNEP GC/GMEF

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The delegates were addressed by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC which is co- hosted by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization.

Ministers re-affirmed the central importance of the IPCC and the importance of sound science upon which to base a response to climate change.

However, as a result of recent criticism of the IPCC and some key errors in the body's fourth assessment report, several governments called for an independent review of the IPCC.

Full details of the review and its scope will be announced next week with the report to be presented to the IPCC Plenary taking place in the Republic of Korea in October.

Several key decisions were adopted, including ones on oceans put forward by the Government of Indonesia and the strengthening the environment via the Environmental Management Group which UNEP hosts.

Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

Many experts believe a science panel or platform for biodiversity and ecosystems is needed to assist governments in combating the erosion of plants and animals and ecosystems such as forests, freshwaters and soils.

Governments agreed to a final meeting in June 2010, halfway through the UN's International Year of Biodiversity, to decide whether to establish such a body.


Delegates also backed UNEP's support to Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010 and called on the organization to assist the UN country team to incorporate environmental issues in the rehabilitation and reconstruction and restoration phases.


Delegates asked UNEP to assist in implementing recommendations from its environmental assessment of the Gaza Strip compiled following the escalation of hostilities in December 2008 through to January 2009.

The assessment covers issues such as solid waste management, pollution and the acute decline of Gaza's underground water supplies.

Notes to Editors

Notes to Editors

For the full list of decisions and the full text of the Nusa Dua Declaration please go to

For More Information Please Contact:

Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson/ Head of Media, Office of the Executive Director, UNEP, HP: +254 733 632 755 email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)