UN group for sustainable development in Europe adopts wide-scale reforms

2 December 2005

The United Nations commission that aims to foster sustainable development in Europe today adopted sweeping reform of its governance structure, cost-effectiveness and transparency to bring its priorities in line with current conditions, the agency reported.

The Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) provides a forum for communication among its 55 Member States, brokers international legal instruments addressing trade, transport and the environment, and supplies statistics and environmental analysis for economic issues.

"The main reason for this reform is the fact that following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 2004 enlargement of the European Union, the UNECE has to re-adapt to the new reality in Europe," said François Roux, UNECE Chairman and Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN.

"In addition," Mr. Roux said, "there was a need to look at the governance issue, as well as the interaction between the membership and the secretariat, in order to better respond to the needs of the Member States, and in particular the countries in transition."

The agency said that the resulting reforms came about after six months of intense consultations and negotiations under the leadership of Ambassador Roux and Michele Coduri, representative of Switzerland and Chairman of UNECE's Group of Experts.

The reforms formally adopted today include a renewed mission statement, governance structure and set of priorities, as well as a change in the structure of its secretariat, according to the agency.

They also promote closer collaboration between UNECE and other organizations active in the region so that duplications are avoided and synergies fully exploited.

In that light, Member States decided to discontinue a number of activities, including macro-economic analysis, where numerous international and regional entities provided similar services.

On the other hand, a new programme is being launched to address the specific development problems of countries with economies in transition and emerging market economies.

This programme will focus on strengthening the competitiveness of these economies through innovative development, financial services and the promotion of the rule of law, the development of public-private partnerships, and other issues.

In addition, existing programmes in environment and transport will be given higher priority in the new structure, according to the Commission.


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