Work Continues on Environmental Conventions Initiative
The Environmental Conventions Initiative (ECI), one of the Center’s core projects, continued its consolidation during the spring semester of 2014. Earlier in March, two members of the Environmental Conventions Initiative team – Professor Maria Ivanova, co-Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability, and Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy, PhD Student in Global Governance and Human Security – traveled to Geneva to engage in a series of meetings with convention secretariats. The purpose of the trip was to obtain feedback on the overall logic and relevance of the Environmental Conventions Index we envision, test the preliminary results, and explore funding opportunities. Both the CITES and the Chemicals & Waste conventions secretariats expressed their interest and support to the project, and highlighted its relevance to assess the effectiveness of the conventions. In both instances, high-level officers discussed the main characteristics of the project, the issues with national reporting, and suggested some improvements in the methodology.
While in Switzerland, the team also visited the Federal Office for the Environment, with which the Center for Governance and Sustainability has a long-standing relationship. The meeting with Ambassador Franz Perrez and the team of the Division of International Affairs served as the first-ever presentation of a country profile of the implementation index. The FOEN delegation provided instrumental feedback on the structure of national reports, the way in which countries fulfill this obligation, and all these insights are currently being incorporated in the coding process. In general, the government found the index relevant and pertinent and a possible tool for evaluation of the impact of capacity building mechanisms. Both organizations – the Center and FOEN – are developing mechanisms for collaboration that will be concluded by the beginning of the next academic year.
This May, the same team traveled to Washington, DC on invitation from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to give a presentation on the ECI. With an attendance of about 35 people from GEF, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Regional Office for North America of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/RONA) the meeting was designed to discuss the methodology, results and obstacles of the initiative. All of the participants expressed their support to the project and offered valuable insights about its different components. In particular, they recognized the relevance and impact of the index in the evaluation of countries environmental performance and the funding of projects associated to the conventions.
This upcoming summer will witness two important milestones for the ECI. First, the initiative will conclude a first draft of the Environmental Conventions Index for a sample of conventions in the Biodiversity and Chemicals & Waste. Second, the project will configure its Advisory Committee to work on the details of the methodology and move forward with its institutional consolidation. With the support of the University of Massachusetts Boston and other partners, the Environmental Conventions Initiative wills start the academic year 2014-2015 with the launch of a three-year strategic approach to achieve its objective of assessing the implementation of global environmental conventions. With the goal of releasing the first version of the index in September 2015, the project will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the current multilateral environmental agreements and therefore could inform the establishment of mechanisms to track the implementation of the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals.