The Principles of Environmental Law

The Principles of Environmental Law


The International Principles of Environmental Law

1. Sovereignty over Natural Resources

The sovereignty of a state over its natural resources is a principle frequently iterated in international treaties. States have made conscious attempts to expand their state sovereignty into areas or over resources that previously were considered the common heritage of mankind or simply free access areas. States expanded their jurisdiction over the seas by establishing Exclusive Economic Zones. Furthermore, states are attempting to extend their jurisdiction over the high seas as states that fish in the high seas are being forced to abide with the rules of regional fisheries organizations. In the area of biodiversity protection, the assertion of state sovereignty has not always been effective and vocal but it has not been absent, either. States have been zealous of controlling their valuable biodiversity resources despite a declaration included in the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources that plant resources are the common heritage of mankind. In the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), “common heritage” has become “common concern” and states have asserted property rights over the plants and other biodiversity resources that occur naturally within their territory. What has generated this zealous nationalism has been the publicity surrounding the development of pharmaceuticals and other products from natural substances. Developing countries have claimed that it is unfair to have to pay high prices for pharmaceuticals and biotechnology products and would have not been invented without the substances derived from resources found in their territory. In other cases, it has been claimed that pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of the knowledge of indigenous or local people without acknowledging their contributions to the development of a new product. Today, national sovereignty and control over the collection, dissemination, and exploitation of germplasm are the norm. This norm has been institutionalized in the Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture


2. Obligation Not to Cause Damage/Harm

The duty of states not to cause damage to the territory of another state is derived from the sovereignty of states. The obligation not to cause damage to the territory of another state, though, is not without qualification. Some polluting activities are bound to cause damage to the territory of other states. The rules of international environmental law have developed within the context of two fundamental objectives pulling in opposing directions: that states have sovereign rights over their natural resources; and that states must not cause damage to the environment. These objectives are set out in Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration, which provides that: States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

3. Principles of Preventive Action and Precaution

The preventive approach is based on the idea that it is better to prevent environmental damage than to employ measures to restore the environment thereafter. The preventive approach has been expanded by a relatively new principle – the precautionary principle. The precautionary principle is based on the premise that action on environmental matters should be taken even if there is a lack of total scientific certainty, often reversing the burden of proof and placing it on those who claim that an activity is not damaging. In some cases, the existence of an environmental problem is evident, for instance, in the case of depletion of the ozone layer. In most cases, however, especially those that have to do with the impact of hazardous substances on human health or the environment, the scientific evidence may not be conclusive. In those cases, the precautionary principle advocates that some action is better than inaction. The precautionary principle is an expression of the backlash against a tepid approach to environmental pollution that has often characterized international action. Many times, governments have procrastinated taking action on environmental problems and blamed their inaction on the lack of scientific certainty or faith in the assimilative capacity of the environment. This procrastinating attitude exacerbated many problems that could have been resolved had it not been “for the lack of scientific certainty” argument. One such obvious problem involves the discharge of untreated sewage at sea that polluted the Mediterranean. One would think that treatment of sewage before it is discharged into the sea would be a sensible investment option for most of the Mediterranean countries dependent on tourism, despite the lack of scientific certainly on the effects of sewage discharges into shallow waters. Also, in principle, some standards should be applied so that most industries and households do not discharge their wastes untreated in the environment. The precautionary principle has been quite controversial because it advocates action despite the lack of scientific certainty. Taking action under such conditions could be costly or, even worse, could be proven wrong. The precautionary principle, nevertheless, has been repeated in many international conventions, and the Rio Declaration includes a precautionary approach. Some commentators view the principle as a guiding principle of international environmental law, but others adopt a more cautionary attitude. The United States has taken a sceptical approach toward the precautionary principle viewing it almost as a protectionist principle – a new nontariff barrier to trade. The European Union, at the other extreme, has transformed the principle into a constitutional principle,1 favouring a strong version of the principle. 

4. Polluter Pays Principle and Equitable Sharing of Cost 

The polluter pays principle was enunciated clearly in the international arena in the Rio Declaration. The principle basically demands for the person who is in charge of polluting activities to be financially responsible for the damage s/he causes. Some commentators have underlined that the principle has merely a rhetoric value because most polluters will be able to pass the costs of pollution onto consumers. Also, in most cases, it is difficult to identify the polluter. Although the polluter pays principle has been enunciated in many international instruments, especially those adopted after 1992, when decisions are made about who should bear the cost of polluting activities it is not always followed. The Rhine Convention on Chlorides explicitly provides that the Netherlands, the country that is the recipient of pollution, undertakes to pay for some of the costs of pollution prevention. The arbitration tribunal that interpreted the convention did not endorse the polluter pays principle. In the case of the Chernobyl disaster, none of the countries affected by the radioactive fallout demanded compensation for the damages they suffered from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union denied any responsibility, claiming that measures undertaken by the affected countries were overcautious.  Furthermore, the International Law Commission in its Draft Articles on Prevention of Transboundary Harm from Hazardous Activities refers to the “factors involved in an equitable sharing of interests” between the polluting party and the affected party. The International Law Commission guidelines on the prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities not prohibited by international law refer to the factors that must be taken into account for an equitable balance of interests between a polluting state and a state that is the recipient of transboundary pollution. In more detail, it is provided that for an equitable balance of interests between these two states to be achieved: “The degree to which the State of origin and, as appropriate, the State likely to be affected are prepared to contribute to the costs of prevention” must be taken into account. This equitable balance of interests between the polluting state and the affected states seems to contradict the polluter pays principle.

5. Sustainable Development 

The term “sustainable development” has been included in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development to denote the need to balance environmental and development considerations. The original articulation of the principle is found in the Brundtland report, which stated that sustainable development means development that satisfies the needs of present generations without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In the WSSD, sustainable development was further articulated as having three pillars, namely: economic development, social development, and environmental protection. The term “sustainable development” has been decried by some as devoid of content, as a concept used to express different and often disparate worldviews. And this is true, to some extent, as developed countries and their NGOs have used the principle to underline the importance of environmental values, whereas developing countries have used the principle to buttress their right to development. Despite these misgivings, however, the principle has assisted in reconciling in one phrase what before seemed irreconcilable – namely, environmental protection and development. It is interesting to see how sustainable development has been used in local communities to articulate goals and indicators for future development, such as the goals of equity, economic vitality, strong community, quality of education, good government, decent housing, healthy people, efficient transport and land-use, protected natural resources, and minimal pollution and waste. Sustainable development has put on the negotiating table issues of economic and social development that are prerequisites for the quality of life and environmental protection. The sustainable development concept, polluter pays principle, and precautionary principle may not be the principles that would resolve future environmental disputes. Other principles, such as that of equitable sharing of costs of polluting activities and a preventive rather than a precautionary approach, may gain ground. The principles, though, articulated as such, are informing the intellectual background of decision makers and are helping to establish a common credo among those who are involved in the everyday shaping of international environmental affairs. To dismiss these principles as too fluid and, thus, irrelevant would require a sort of imperviousness to their galvanizing effects as they reverberate from international to local agendas. 
  • Equitable Utilization The principle of equitable utilization of resources has been articulated in early judicial decisions regarding the sharing of freshwater resources. In the Lac Lanoux case, the tribunal articulated the duty of states to take into account other states interests before developing a resource by engaging, at least, in negotiations and consultation. The 1997 UN Watercourses Convention refers to the principle of equitable utilization of watercourses. The principle of equity is difficult to pin down. Some thought schools viewed equity as a defining concept of international law. Others argued that equity considerations introduce an especially subjective element in the interpretation of international law. To most people, equity would mean a fifty-fifty allocation of a resource; to others, that those with priority in use must be protected; to still others, equitable allocation must be based on needs independent of the extent to which a resource is located within national boundaries. The application of equity in the different regions of the world has not been the same. The interpretation of equity depends heavily on the dynamics of interrelationships among countries that happen to share a resource. Equity frequently lies in the eyes of the beholder, especially if that beholder is a relatively more powerful state that refuses to compromise. The principle of equitable utilization of resources has found its articulation in the Biodiversity Convention. The Biodiversity Convention provides that countries must share equitably the benefits derived from the development of biodiversity resources.  This principle of equitable sharing of benefits derived from biodiversity resources, though, has resisted practical articulation. Developed countries and many biotechnology companies fear that equitable utilization would involve distribution of profits coming from patenting biotechnology devices. Because of such concerns, the United States has not ratified the Biodiversity Convention. More recently, state parties to the Biodiversity Convention have engaged in efforts to define what an equitable sharing of benefits from the development of biodiversity resources would mean.  
  • Common but Differentiated Responsibilities This principle is a possible articulation of the concept of equity. Countries have differentiated responsibilities with regard to environmental protection because not every country has contributed to the same extent to environmental degradation and because not all countries have the same resources to devote to environmental problems. The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities has found apt articulation in the climate change and ozone protection conventions in which it is explicitly provided that developed countries should provide additional funding to developing countries in order to ensure the implementation of these treaties.
  • Human Rights: Human rights standards are not explicitly referred to in international environmental instruments. The right to development is offered as a counter position to environmental protection in the balancing of environmental and developmental goals. But, generally, there has not been an explicit reference to human rights as they may. The insertion of human rights into the environmental discourse is important not only because human rights are the prerequisite for the quality of life sought by environmental protection. Eco development, like conventional development, has entailed in some cases neglect for the needs of people whose interests do not lie within the eco development agenda. Forcible exclusions of people from what are seen as naturally pristine areas have been executed by many governments in the developing world. Environmentalism has been used by certain elites to perpetrate suppressive policies that, otherwise, would have not acquired approval in international circles. The protection of human rights should ideally provide the threshold for the pursuit of development including eco development. Threshold human rights standards would involve the basic human rights standards, such as: 
    • the right to life, liberty, and the security of person;
    • the right not be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment;
    • the right not be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, and exile;
    • the right to effective remedies before national tribunals. 
Commentators have proposed the articulation of a right not be displaced and the use of such right to oppose government policies geared toward involuntary displacement work in tandem with environmental goals. The Stockholm Conference and the WSSD refer explicitly to the goal of human dignity. The Rio Conference refers to the right to development that some have viewed as the force that should drive international law. The focal point of the WSSD is the reduction of poverty. The goal of poverty reduction is not explicitly articulated in international human rights instruments but it is implicit in the right to development. It is also implicit in article 11 of the 1966 Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in which it is provided that parties to the covenant “recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing.”  

Multilateral Environmental Agreements 

International law develops as states get together to calibrate their interaction and formalize their relationships. States frequently enter into agreements with one another about matters of mutual concern. This way, states explicitly set the law that would regulate their behaviour. Other times, states engage in practice under the perception that such practice constitutes or should constitute law. If such practice is general and is exercised under the opinion that it constitutes law, it is considered general custom and, thus, a source of international law. Law could be derived from what are called general principles of law, judicial decisions, and the teachings of the “most highly qualified publicists.”3 Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice is cited most often as the authoritative text on sources of law. According to that article:  The Court, whose function is to decide in accordance with international law such disputes as are submitted to it, shall apply: 1. international conventions, whether general or particular, establishing rules expressly recognized by the contesting states; 2. international custom, as evidence of general practice accepted as law; 3. the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations; 4. subject to provisions of article 59, judicial decisions and the teachings of the most highly qualified publicists of the various nations as subsidiary for the determination of the rules of law. International agreements, called “treaties,” “conventions,” “covenants,” and “charters,” could be bilateral or multilateral. Usually, multilateral treaties signed by a number of states are deemed to have law making effects, whereas bilateral treaties are viewed more or less the way contracts are viewed in domestic law (as having effect between the parties that signed them). The process of multilateral treaty creation involves a number of states that wish to resolve an issue of international importance.  

These states usually request an international organization with authority on the subject matter (for instance, the World Health Organization, in matters of public health, the International Labour Organization on labour matters) to establish a working group to draft a treaty. This initiates a process of treaty negotiation and bargaining until a consensus is established. Usually, states attempt to reach consensus during treaty negotiations, which often results in the adoption of the lowest common denominator. Instances exist, however, in which states would adopt a convention without a consensus. Lack of a consensus in the adoption of a convention is likely to affect the law making character of the convention. This is particularly the case if countries explicitly refuse to sign or ratify the convention. The Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties4 is the document used frequently to interpret the text of many international treaties. The Vienna Convention has codified some of the general principles that are enshrined in the law of the treaties such as pacta sunt servanda5 and that treaties must not in principle have retroactive character.6 The Vienna Convention demonstrates a preference for the peaceful settlement of disputes7 and requires parties to perform their treaty obligations “in good faith.”8 The Vienna Convention provides for the establishment of a Conciliation Commission in case a disagreement arises during treaty performance,9 but the decisions of the Conciliation Commission are not binding. The convention provides for the possibility of reference of a dispute to the ICJ or arbitration.10 States are free to make reservations to specific articles of a convention.11This creates in effect an `a la carte convention system. Too many reservations on the text of a convention undermine the authoritative character of the convention. For this reason, certain treaties prohibit reservations.12 Many environmental and human rights treaties do so. The prohibition of reservations enhances the consistency and uniformity of treaties but, at the same time, restricting the possibility of reservations implies less state participation in the treaty regime. If reservations are allowed, without any restriction, state participation is facilitated but the law making attributes of a treaty are diluted. After a convention is signed, it enters into a process of ratification. This means that States must ask their legislative organs (e.g., a parliament) to adopt the convention and to incorporate it into the domestic legal order. Unless a state ratifies a convention, the convention does not have binding effects on that state (provided that the rules included in the convention have not become a rule of customary law). A convention specifies in one of its articles the number of states that are required for ratification. After this pre-specified number of states ratify the convention, it is said that “the convention enters into force,”13 that is, it has become binding law among the states that ratified it. The number of states required to ratify a convention varies depending on the reach of the convention. The Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS), which is considered the constitutive instrument of the law of the seas, required sixty ratifications. Because of its wide reach, it took fourteen years for the  

4 Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties, May 23, 1969. 5 Art. 26, id. 6 Art. 28, id. 7 See article 65 of the Vienna Convention, which refers to article 33 of the UN Charter, id. 8 For the element of good faith, see art. 26, Vienna Convention, id. 9 See art. 66 and Annex to the Vienna Convention, id. 10 Art. 66, id. 11 Art. 2(d), id. See also art. 20, id. 12 Art. 19, id. 13 See art. 24, id.
UNCLOS to enter into force. For some conventions, ratification by certain states is important because non-ratification by these states would risk depriving these conventions of a convincing legal authority. For instance, the civil liability instruments for oil pollution attempt to ensure the participation of states where major carriers of oil reside. The climate change instruments attempt to ensure the participation of countries that are major emitters of carbon dioxide. Many international environmental treaties are umbrella framework treaties – setting the parameters of international environmental action – followed by protocols defining the specific standards of state behaviour. The model of a framework convention followed by specific protocols has been adopted as the regulatory archetype for a number of environmental problems, such as ozone depletion, acid rain, and climate change. The rationale behind the framework-protocol approach is for states to commit to engage, initially, in cooperative behaviour to manage what seems to be an emerging environmental problem through a framework convention. As scientific evidence accumulates or the political will manifests to tackle the problem more decisively, further specific regulatory protocols can be adopted. The framework/protocol legislative approach is not the only regulatory process for the management of environmental problems. In the case of marine pollution, specific conventions, such as the 1972 London Dumping Convention and the 1973 MARPOL Convention, preceded the 1982 UNCLOS. The UNCLOS is the framework convention that has established the basic rules that govern the oceans. The process of adopting a constitutional convention that attempts to address environmental and other issues presented in the exploitation and protection of a medium (for instance, seas, water, and air) can be timeconsuming, however. In the case of the UNCLOS, it took more than ten years to adopt a coherent text for the protection of the oceans. Treaties would be useless if treaty parties had not, previously, somehow agreed on their binding force. And in order to operate, unless everything is spelt out in minute detail, treaties presuppose an understanding on how, when, where and between whom they should apply; how they can be terminated or suspended (if at all); what happens if they are breached; whether they survive the demise of their parties, and much more. The law of treaties provides this legal framework. The legal framework governing treaties draws on, but is not exhausted by, the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (‘VCLT’). Authoritative, no doubt, but by no means comprehensive. To some extent, this flows from its (convention-specific) understanding of the term ‘treaty’ as set out in Article 2(1) (a). According to that provision, ‘for the purposes of the present Convention: “treaty” means an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation’. The convention provides considerable detail on the modalities of concluding treaties, on their scope of application, on reservations, on interpretation, on treaty interaction and contains a very bulky part on the ‘invalidity, termination or suspension of the operation of the treaty’.14 In Nigeria, treaties do not automatically have force of law or becomes applicable and enforceable unless enacted into law by the National Assembly. Hence, Section 12(1) of the Constitution provides as follows:-  
14 Research Handbook on the Law of Treaties. Edited by Christian J. Tams, Antonios Tzanakopoulos and Andreas Zimmermann. Edward Elgar Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, USA. (2004).
No treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly.  This Section further provides that where the subject-matter of a treaty falls outside the Exclusive Legislative List, a bill for an Act of the National Assembly to give the treaty the force of law must be ratified by a majority of all the Houses of Assembly in the Federation before it is enacted into law and assented to by the President. It is safe to say therefore, that until a treaty has been domesticated in Nigeria, it cannot be applied within the country. Domesticating a treaty in Nigeria is quite cumbersome. Pursuant to the provisions of the second schedule to the Nigerian Constitution, external affairs, which necessarily involve treaty making power form item number 26 and fall squarely within the Exclusive Legislative List. By virtue of the Constitution, only the National Assembly to the exclusion of the State Assemblies is empowered to legislate on matters within the Exclusive Legislative List. Nigeria is a signatory to about 400 protocols and conventions according to Dayo BushAlebiosu, a former lawmaker of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and former Chairman, House Committee on Treaties and Bilateral Agreements. However, Nigeria is not reaping the full benefits of these protocols and conventions and here is why.  From a broad perspective, international treaties are prepared with varieties of specific and conventional issues taken into consideration. Thus, a move by a nation to domesticate an international treaty is a sign that it is committed to keeping the world peace, starting with persons living within her defined borders. Consequently, notwithstanding pronouncements of the Supreme Court down from the locus classicus Abacha v Fawehinmi 915 (2001) WRN Vol 51, 29 16(2008) 2NWLR (Pt 1072) 575 17 Ibid., to the more recent case of The Registered Trustees of National Association of Community Health Practitioners of Nigeria v Medical Health Workers of Nigeria16, the manner in which Treaties are being handled is not encouraging at all. Well, as already indicated, the interpretations being placed on section 245C (2), among others is another idea that seems to be gaining ground that a Treaty need not be wholly enacted to be justiciable in our courts. It suffices to say that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Third Alteration) Act 2010, more particularly, section 254(c), and arguments along lines of indirect/implied domestication (a form of domestication by reference) are gaining grounds. In something of a clever attempt to read s12 in a manner to suggest that a treaty need not be wholly enacted to be valid and enforceable, the Supreme Court gave that argument short shrift. It held: “…for a treaty to be valid and enforceable, it must have the force of law behind it, albeit it must be supported by a law enacted by the National Assembly, not bits and pieces found here and there in other laws of the land, but not specifically so enacted to domesticate it, to make it a part of our law….”
In other words, that absent a legislative instrument, a Treaty domestication argument must fail; it did in that case. The view earlier expressed by the court (in Abacha v Fawehinmi (supra) that:”…no matter how beneficial to the country or the citizenry, an international treaty to which Nigeria has become a signatory may be, remains unenforceable, if it is not enacted into the law of the country by the National Assembly”), was re-stated and followed.The Activities of UNEP 

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), organization established in 1972 to guide and coordinate environmental activities within the United Nations (UN) system. UNEP promotes international cooperation on environmental issues, provides guidance to UN organizations, and, through its scientific advisory groups, encourages the international scientific community to participate in formulating policy for many of the UN’s environmental projects. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, the organization also has encouraged participation by the private sector to promote the sustainable use of the world’s natural resources.  

One of UNEP’s most widely recognized activities is Earthwatch, an international monitoring system designed to facilitate the exchange of environmental information among governments. Participation in this enterprise enables members to assess significant environmental risks and to act accordingly. UNEP played a major role in initiating negotiations on reducing ozone-depleting chemicals. UNEP provides the technical assistance for a variety of international conventions, including the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987), the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (1989), and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (1992). As the secretariat for these conventions, UNEP services the conferences, implements the decisions, monitors implementation, and provides data and information. Together with the Food and Agriculture Organization, UNEP helps to implement the Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (1998). UNEP also coordinates the work on UN agencies with respect to desertification and the regional seas (with special attention to the Mediterranean Sea).  
The 58-member Governing Council, the organization’s principal legislative body, is elected by the UN General Assembly for four-year terms. Seats are allocated by region to assure widespread representation, generally providing about 16 seats for African states, 13 for Asia, 6 for Eastern Europe, 10 for Latin America and the Caribbean, and 13 for Western Europe and other states. 

There is the Environmental Mandate

UNEP was established by the General Assembly following the Stockholm Conference by resolution 2997 (XXVII) of 15 December 1972. By the resolution, the Governing Council is composed of 58 members elected by the General Assembly and has the responsibility to:  

  • Promote international cooperation in the field of the environment and to recommend appropriate policies to this end
  • Provide general policy guidance for the direction and coordination of environmental programmes within the United Nations system; 
  • Receive and review the periodic reports of the Executive Director on the implementation of environmental programmes within the United Nations system;  
  • Keep under review the world environmental situation in order to ensure that emerging environmental problems of wide international significance receive appropriate and adequate consideration by Governments; 
  • Promote the contribution of the relevant international scientific and other professional communities to the acquisition, assessment and exchange of environmental knowledge and information, and, as appropriate, to the technical aspects of the formulation and implementation of environmental programmes within the United Nations system; 
  • Maintain under continuing review the impact of national and international environmental policies and measures on developing countries as well as the problem of additional costs that may be incurred by developing countries in the implementation of environmental programmes and projects and to ensure that such programmes and projects shall be compatible with the development plans and priorities of those countries; and review and approve the programme of utilization of resources of the Environment Fund. 
There are also environmental activities: 
  • Early Warning and Assessment 
  • Environmental Policy Development and Law 
  • Technology, Industry and Economics
  • Environmental Policy Implementatio
  • Regional Cooperation
  • Environmental Conventions  • 
  • Global Environment Facility Coordination 
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading environmental authority in the United Nations system. UNEP uses its expertise to strengthen environmental standards and practices while helping implement environmental obligations at the country, regional and global levels. UNEP’s mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.   

For efficiency and results, UNEP re-organised its work programme into six strategic areas. The selection of six areas of concentration was guided by scientific evidence, the UNEP mandate and priorities emerging from global and regional forums.

1. CLIMATE CHANGE UNEP strengthens the ability of countries to integrate climate change responses by providing leadership in adaptation, mitigation, technology and finance. UNEP is focusing on facilitating the transition to low-carbon societies, improving the understanding of climate science, facilitating the development of renewable energy and raising public awareness.
2. POST-CONFLICT AND DISASTER MANAGEMENT UNEP conducts environmental assessments in crisis-affected countries and provides guidance for implementing legislative and institutional frameworks for improved environmental management. Activities undertaken by UNEP’s Post-Conflict & Disaster Management Branch (PCDMB) include post-conflict environmental assessment in Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Lebanon, Nigeria and Sudan.
3. ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT Facilitates management and restoration of ecosystems in a manner consistent with sustainable development, and promotes use of ecosystem services. Examples include the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities.
4. ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE UNEP supports governments in establishing, implementing and strengthening the necessary processes, institutions, laws, policies and programs to achieve sustainable development at the country, regional and global levels, and mainstreaming environment in development planning.
5. HARMFUL SUBSTANCES UNEP strives to minimise the impact of harmful substances and hazardous waste on the environment and human beings. UNEP has launched negotiations for a global agreement on mercury, and implements projects on mercury and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) to reduce risks to human health and the environment.
6. RESOURCE EFFICIENCY/SUSTAINABLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION UNEP focuses on regional and global efforts to ensure natural resources are produced, processed and consumed in a more environmentally friendly way. For example, the Marrakesh Process is a global strategy to support the elaboration of a 10-Year Framework of Programs on sustainable consumption and production.  

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