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In support of a UN agency for the environment

Article by the Minister Delegate for Development, Mr. Pascal Canfin, published in the “La Croix” daily newspaper

(Paris, 8 June 2012)


France would like to secure in Rio a specific commitment, with a deadline, on the creation of a UN agency for the environment. This agency will take over from the current United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and will be responsible for coordinating all of the environmental conventions that currently coexist in an uncoordinated manner. This work is key in terms of strengthening and stabilizing international environmental law. In contrast to a world environment organization, this agency will be fully integrated into the UN system.

France’s second priority is to link sustainable development issues with the fight against poverty, currently two separate issues. It would be more appropriate to have a single agency and a single roadmap in order to address, for example, access to water, healthcare, contraception and energy. We therefore want to launch a single process, the goal of which is to establish by 2015 quantified targets with respect to sustainable development and the fight against poverty.

The Rio Summit will also provide an opportunity to review the various initiatives taken at the international level with respect to innovative financing and ways to move forward so that this type of financing can supplement current Official Development Assistance. In Rio I will host a meeting of 63 States which form the Leading Group on Innovative Financing in which we will of course once again discuss the tax on financial transactions.

I know that the discussions will be difficult. This summit certainly won’t represent an end point, with a binding text that applies to everyone! As an environmentalist, I’m bound to regret the fact that the international community isn’t moving fast enough with respect to the environmental emergency. But I will make sure that the negotiations go as far as possible and that progress is made on the sticking points that we’re well aware of.

Many of the least developed countries still believe that ecology is a luxury reserved only for the rich countries. But there’s growing awareness that the issues relating to the preservation of natural resources, desertification and climate change affect the capacity of these very countries to develop.

Likewise, we have to convince the emerging countries – whose middle classes are adopting our consumption habits – that it is in their interest to make progress in terms of environmental issues. The rich countries are in no position to give any advice about this, especially since the EU’s CO2 emissions continued to increase last year.

In order to move forward, innovation is the key word. Far from presenting a vision that punishes or apportions blame to the emerging countries, we must promote innovation with respect to production methods, urban planning, etc. We must work together to develop a major global compromise so that all of our lifestyles can evolve in a sustainable way.



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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU