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Haas to Participate in International Environmental Conference

Last September French President Jacques Chirac announced before the United Nations General Assembly: “We all know that uncontrolled human activity is bringing about a sort of slow collective suicide. Disaster can only be averted if nations can come together to support jointly agreed commitments." Chirac proposed creating a United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO), "the expression of the world's ecological conscience."

Acting on these words, France is hosting an international environmental conference in early February to convene some of the best known global environmentalists, including Peter Haas (political science), an expert on multi-level governance and the role of science in international and environmental regimes. Actively engaged in the practice of global governance, Haas is co-author of the newly published Global Environmental Governance, part of the Foundations of Contemporary Environmental Studies series by Island Press. He also cowrote Emerging Forces in Environmental Governance (United Nations University Press, 2006).

Although the European Union has formalized UNEO, it is facing resistance from many countries. Setting up UNEO is a must, France states, as environmental problems are increasing on a daily basis. The Paris Conference on the Environment will be held on February 2-3, 2007, immediately after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group I Session on the Science of Climate Change, which will also be held in Paris.

The Conference will provide a forum for jointly reviewing major threats to our planet that jeopardize the harmony of societies. It also aims to determine priorities for action, including through the strengthening of international environmental governance. "The current system of agreements," states France, "is fragmented and weak with its 500 international agreements, 18 agencies, relevant programmes and international financial institutions. It is therefore essential to transform the United Nations Environment Programme into an Environment Organization thereby making it an actual United Nations agency in its own right with the necessary means to fulfil its mission."

During the conference, workshops will convene to study the impact of climate change and cost of international inaction and propose measures, particularly in the energy and transport sectors; the loss of biological diversity and its impact on human societies; monitoring transfers of hazardous substances and waste and the threats that they pose; governance of shared water resources, sanitation issues, especially in developing countries, and action to adapt water management to climate change; coping with ecological challenges, including the population explosion, uncontrolled urbanization and mass poverty; and strengthening international environmental governance, transforming the United Nations Environmental Program into a full-fledged United Nations agency: the United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO).

January 25, 2007

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