On the final day of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio 20), Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, hailed the promise of achieving synergies among the Rio conventions under a streamlined joint reporting process that has been successfully tested.
Barbut has been working in concert with Executive Director and Under-Secretary General of the United Nations Achim Steiner of the U.N. Environment Programme on a pilot program involving GEF-funded medium-sized projects that has yielded valuable lessons. The pilot tested the possibility of an enhanced joint reporting format among the three Rio Conventions – covering biodiversity, climate change and combating deforestation – and the need to streamline reporting requirements on benefiting countries.
The Secretariats of the three Rio Conventions – the Convention on Biological Diversity, Convention to Combat Desertification, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – have been involved in the effort, along with selected government representatives. The participants hope to apply lessons learned from the pilot program to address challenges faced by Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Islands Developing Stated (SIDS).
"Most multilateral environmental agreements require Parties to report regularly on national implementation, including the three Rio Conventions," said Barbut. "It cannot be overstated what a huge burden this places on countries, in particular LDCs and SIDS."
In response, Barbut said, "We can first start by exploring options for more integrated approaches to reporting at the global level. The idea is to reduce the large burden placed on countries, especially LDCs and SIDS, for reporting of their activities under the three conventions".
To reduce the reporting burden, the GEF and UNEP have collaborated to explore the development of a joint format for the three Conventions based on the current reporting requirements. The joint reporting initiative carried by both institutions aims at finding means to strengthen multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) while addressing challenges posed by the communication and collaboration among the national focal points to the Conventions.
As a result of the joint reporting sessions, Government representatives, Executive Secretaries for the Conventions as well as the GEF CEO have all indicated that the results of the pilot project described show great promise. The results confirm that countries and conventions can work together to develop a streamlined joint reporting format which encompasses the needs presented by benefiting Parties and the guidelines and structures set by implementing and executing agencies.
With an effective tool now available to use, Barbut stated, "The next step is for us is to hear from the countries themselves. I anticipate a strong willingness of countries party to the Rio Conventions – and the conventions themselves – to move towards the enhanced synergies this pilot project has demonstrated."