The "Environment for Europe" process aims to improve environmental quality in the pan-European region and provides a framework for cooperation on environmental matters with Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Participating in this process are 56 member states within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), international organisations, funding institutions and NGOs.
The "Environment for Europe" process was launched by the environment ministers of UNECE member states at the Dobris conference in 1991 in order to support countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia in the development and implementation of environmental legislation. Environmental cooperation with these countries and capacity building are the main instruments implemented with a view to improving the quality of the environment and harmonising environmental standards across the pan-European region. Responsibility for this process now lies with the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy.
This process offers a unique platform for environmental cooperation between the 56 member states of the UNECE, international organisations and funding institutions, but also with civil society and private sector partners.
The main themes addressed in the "Environment for Europe" process are as follows:
- promotion and implementation of UNECE Conventions at the regional level (air pollution, surface waters, environmental impact assessments, industrial accidents, public access to information and to justice)
- environmental governance
- pan-European environmental assessment reports
- green economy
- sustainable consumption and production
- sustainable energy
- environment and security
- environment and health
- environmental financing
- education for sustainable development
The process is implemented in particular by the UNECE, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Environment Agency (EEA), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Regional Environmental Centres (REC).
As part of the "Environment for Europe" process, the environment ministers meet every 4 or 5 years. From 8 to 10 June 2016, the 8th Environment for Europe conference was held in Batumi, Georgia, with the aim of making a regional contribution to achievement of the sustainable development goals. At the conference, the states adopted a strategic framework for a green economy until 2030. The Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E), developed under the leadership of Switzerland in close collaboration with the UNEP, the UNECE and the OECD, was launched at this conference to make this strategic framework operational. BIG-E is a series of voluntary green economy commitments made by interested states and organisations. The ministerial conference also spearheaded the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA Initiative), which aims to mobilise states through voluntary actions to improve air quality. Switzerland is committed to both BIG-E and BACA with five initiatives and five actions. In January 2019, the participating states will report on the progress made in implementing their commitments within the framework of a mid-term review. Finally, Batumi resulted in two ministerial declarations, one general and the other specific to education for sustainable development.
Switzerland's commitment and interest
Switzerland played a key role in the creation of the "Environment for Europe" process. The FOEN, which is responsible for this process, continues to be actively involved in it. This process allows Switzerland, as a non-member country of the EU, to work closely on environmental initiatives with stakeholders throughout the pan-European region. The greater focus on the countries of Central Europe and the Caucasus is also in Switzerland's interest, since it leads a voting group in the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that includes countries in Central Asia and Azerbaijan.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) contribute to the process primarily through bilateral and regional cooperation with the countries concerned.
Last modification 15.08.2018