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Environmental Policy


Photo of mountain flowers in Central Asia

The environmental challenges in our region are many and interlinked. Air pollution caused more than 300,000 deaths in 2021, and about 100 million people do not have access to sanitation facilities at home. Added to these, releases of hazardous chemicals, climate change, effective engagement of the public in decision-making and access to environmental information and justice are among major concerns we need to address urgently.
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In focus

UNECE Environmental Performance Reviews (EPRs) offer a comprehensive tool to help countries identify key environmental challenges and establish concrete recommendations to improve environmental sustainability across all sectors. The Fourth Cycle of UNECE EPRs is underway, with a new round of reviews to assist countries’ efforts in improving the environment for the benefit of people and planet. Each review includes a mission by a large, multidisciplinary team of international experts working in country, assessing the environmental performance by examining developments during the period since the previous review, normally seven to ten years earlier. The review process for each country culminates with the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy considering the recommendations with a view to their adoption, and the country making a commitment to implement them within the next five to ten years. The Fourth Cycle has included Tajikistan, Montenegro and Mongolia so far.

The Fourth Cycle of EPRs was adopted by the ECE Committee on Environmental Policy in November 2020. At the Ninth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference (Nicosia, 5–7 October 2022), in their Declaration, the Ministers commended the EPR Programme as an effective and practical policy tool with a proven track record stretching back over more than a quarter of a century, and recognized the role it plays in supporting the achievement and monitoring of SDGs in the pan-European region. Ministers endorsed the Fourth Cycle and invited UNECE to conduct it and encouraged countries to undertake further reviews and to considering elaborating road maps to implement recommendations.

#WaterAction – UN Water Convention receives major push at UN 2023 Water Conference

Forty-six years after the last similar conference, the 2023 UN Water Conference (New York, 22-24 March 2023) resulted in a Water Action Agenda and significantly increased momentum for transboundary water cooperation and UNECE’s instruments, the Water Convention and Protocol on Water and Health.

The UN Secretary-General urged countries to accede to the Water Convention, and Nigeria and Iraq followed the call and became Parties to the Water Convention during the Conference. 10 other countries expressed their willingness to accede and thereby committed to the sustainable management of their shared waters. More than 40 commitments on transboundary cooperation were submitted to the Water Action Agenda, also facilitated by the Transboundary water cooperation coalition. Now, the Water Action Agenda needs to be implemented - water needs to have a prominent role in upcoming processes (e.g. 2023 SDG Summit). The follow-up steps under the Water Convention will be discussed at the 18th meeting of the Working Group on Integrated Water Resources Management (Geneva, 19-21 June 2023) and at the tenth session of the Meeting of the Parties (Ljubljana, 23–25 October 2024).

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