UNEP Announces Restructuring of the Division on Regional Cooperation (DRC)
The Executive Director of UNEP, Achim Steiner, addressed a letter to the major groups and stakeholders of the agency on October 4th, 2013 announcing the restructuring of the regional cooperation arrangement in accordance with the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future We Want”. Paragraph 88 of the outcome document called for the strengthening of UNEP’s regional presence to help countries implement national environmental policies. It also requested “the active participation of all relevant stakeholders drawing on best practices and models from relevant multilateral institutions and exploring new mechanisms to promote transparency and the effective engagement of civil society.”
Currently, the Division of Regional Cooperation (DRC) of UNEP is tasked with coordinating six regional offices in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and West Asia. The DRC works closely with governments and UN agencies, and it engages with major groups and stakeholders to promote and coordinate environmental policies at the regional, national, and subnational levels. The DRC is composed by an Inter-Agency and Country Level Coordination Unit (ICCU), a Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch and a Regional Coordination Unit.
Steiner reported two significant changes to this structure:
1. A Regional Support Office, responsible for coordinating regional activities, will replace the Division of Regional Cooperation. The Chief of the Regional Support Office will collaborate with Regional Directors, who will, in turn, report to the Deputy Executive Director;
2. The Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch will be incorporated in the Secretariat of the Governing Bodies as a unit. The major groups include farmers, women, non-governmental organizations, local authorities, the scientific and technological community, children and youth, workers and trade unions, business and industry, and indigenous people and their communities.
He added that these changes “will enable UNEP provide a timely and effective response to the strategic and political ambitions that Member States and major groups and stakeholders articulated for a strengthened and upgraded UNEP”, and that they will allow better engagement of these groups with the organization.