The second Substantive Session of the Ad Hoc Open Ended Working Group was drawn to a close Wednesday with the adoption of a provisional agenda and dates for the third session, which will convene for three days from 20 to 22 May 2019. The three-day arrangement was agreed as part of a compromise after a series of exchanges on scheduling, taking into account the need to allow for adequate time for the OEWG to meet the demands of its mandate from the UN General Assembly (UNGA resolution 72/277). The Co-Chairs will also make themselves available for informal consultations on the preceding weekend.
Co-Chairs Francisco Duarte Lopes, Portugal, and Amal Mudallali, Lebanon, will circulate elements of draft recommendations during the intersessional period, as delegations prepare to move to negotiations on a series of emergent recommendations to the UN General Assembly, possibly including a legal instrument, high level declaration, and other possible responses to gaps or challenges in international environmental law (IEL) and related instruments.
In a non-exhaustive oral summary of points addressed during the second session, the Co-Chairs noted discussion on:
- A broad approach to gaps, understood as lacunae, deficiencies or challenges in IEL or related instruments;
- The interpretation, unequal application and lack of consistency in approaches to IEL principles;
- Different views on the nature of a new instrument, including the possibility of a legally or non-legally binding instrument; a high-level declaration; and/or a document from the UN General Assembly;
- Agreement on strengthening international environmental governance, following observations on a lack of system coherence, implementation challenges, and a failure to adequately reflect the interdependent nature of the earth’s ecosystems; and
- The need to address and strengthen the roles of UNEP and UNEA in line with paragraphs 88 and 89 of the Rio+20 outcomes document, in the context of strengthening international environmental governance and IEL on a system-wide basis across the UN system.
Delegations were invited to submit further recommendations to the Co-Chairs by 12 April.
The day began with a moment of silence to mark the passing of Ambassador Brenda Muntemba of Zambia, who died in a road traffic accident, and a tribute to three UN interpreters who lost their lives in the Ethiopian Airlines crash in the run-up to the meeting.
Mudallali then thanked the OEWG for their hard work before Duarte gavelled the close of the meeting at 16.04.