Coming out of coma
Growing global concerns over environmental issues has once again underlined the need for an effective and vigilant environmental forum with a valid mandate that would provide concrete guidance to all nations.
While the number of environmental forum and institutions have proliferated over the years yet concrete policy decisions along with their implementation still remain the need of the hour. One of the foremost international environmental platforms, the United Nations Environment Programme (unep), launched as a un body for environmental cooperation, has failed to emerge as a supreme authority setting the global environmental agenda.
It is sad to note that unep's authority has been increasingly eroded by the emergence of international environment institutions and convention secretariats. Besides, a drastic decline in its funding in recent years has rendered it inefficient.
But, initially, the unep was envisaged as an institutional structure within the United Nations (un), to address various environmental issues and problems and provide a platform for global environmental cooperation. unep was a quasi-autonomous entity which served as a focal point for environmental action and coordination within the un system.
However, unep did not have the mandate to initiate environmental programmes on its own. Since it is not a functional international organisation, unep works within the hierarchical order in the un by reporting to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council. Thus it was kept just as a programme, a subsidiary organ of the un General Assembly. Initially, several functional organisations like Food and Agriculture Organisation (fao), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (unesco) and International Labour Organisation (ilo) did not pose much challenge to unep's jurisdiction though some of them did seek to address environmental issues as peripheral concerns. However, as time passed many of these launched programmes in the environment field to protect their budgets and mandate.
During 28 years of its existence, unep achieved considerable success in galvanising international environmental concerns. It has laid down threshold limits of environmental behaviour of states. It has evolved several multilateral environmental agreements (mea), soft law through non-binding principles, development of environmental law and policy at the national level. It also provides a servicing base for administration of secretariats for five meas