Environmental Governance

In West Asia, UNEP’s Environmental Governance Subprogramme promotes informed sciences-based environmental decision-making to enhance global and regional environmental cooperation and governance. UNEP’s regional office of West Asia works with 12 states in the region along with major groups and stakeholders, to help bridge the science and policy gaps by keeping the state of the environment under review, identifying threats at an early stage, developing sound environmental policies, strategies, legislation and helping states successfully implement these policies.

It is utmost important with appropriate legal frameworks on the global, regional, national and local level to pursue good environmental governance that will lead to a healthy and prosperous planet for all living creatures, now and in the future. In this region, we seek to advance and strengthen the state of the environment while also supporting sustainable development. Environmental governance includes policy, rules and norms that govern human behavior and it also addresses who makes decisions, how decisions are made and carried out, the scientific information needed for decision-making and how the public and major stakeholders can participate in the decision-making.

Environmental challenges and issues may be regulated on a national or local basis, but some environmental challenges may affect more than one nation and would therefore require regional or global actions and agreements. In addition, transboundary issues where one environmental challenge emerging in one country could shift to a neighboring country could also lead to tension and aggravation of the situation.

In implementing the Environmental Governance mission in West Asia, UNEP support, guide and focuses on the following areas:

  • Providing technical assistance to governments to enhance their capacity to strengthen and implement environmental law and multilateral environmental agreements;
  • Strengthening the scientific basis for decision-making by undertaking and supporting national, sub-regional and regional institutions in carrying out integrated environmental assessments and state of environment reporting;
  • Facilitating access to environmental data and information and supporting indicator development and networking;
  • Early warning of emerging threats: timely identification and vulnerability assessment of emerging environmental threats;
  • Building and strengthening capacity at the regional and national levels on integrated environmental assessment, early warning and information systems;
  • Support to regional and sub-regional ministerial forums for policy exchange and priority-setting for key environmental issues;
  • Support to the mainstreaming of environmental sustainability in national development processes and UN common country programming processes;
  • Promotes and supports sound science and policy advice for environmental decision-making;
  • Engages civil society and stakeholders in policy dialogue.

Our Regional Flagship Projects and Initiatives:

Kuwait Environmental Governance Initiative (KEGI)- Developing capacities for better implementation

This project helped setting the stage for Kuwait Environment Public Authority to be aligned with Kuwait National Development Plan and the SDGs and support the implementation agenda under the new Environmental Protection Law (EPL). UNEP’s responsibility within the KEGI project is to support Kuwait Environment Public Authority (KEPA) in developing its capacities necessary for effective participation in the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), and to provide technical support in the strengthening of MEAs and Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs).

Green Gulf Initiative – Guidelines and manuals for policy development

A partnership agreement has been signed between UNEP and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretariat aiming to address pressing environmental issues facing the GCC countries. The overall project objective is to work closely with the Gulf Cooperation Council and its’ Member States to produce guidelines and manuals that would support them in reviewing their existing standards for air quality, coastal development and chemical management and, where appropriate, update and develop them for the purpose of policy development and implementation.

Legislative Framework Compilation and assessment in West Asia

In this ongoing project, UNEP is conducting a compilation of the latest environmental legislations in the 12 countries of the West Asian region and analyzing the environmental legislative frameworks that will result in producing a report including recommendations and gap analysis. The compilation will also include international treaties signed by the States, decrees and decisions.

Association for Environmental Law Lecturers in Middle East and North Africa Universities (ASSELMU)

The 2018 Middle East Environment Law Scholars Conference was sponsored by UNEP and the conference officially launched the Association for Environmental Law Lecturers in Middle East Universities (ASSELMU) as the umbrella association for academics who conduct research, or teach environment related law courses, in a university in the Middle East region. The aim with the association is to bring together leading environmental law scholars, as well as regional and local law, management and policy practitioners, to advance knowledge exchange on the implementation and application of multilateral environmental agreements. The next ASSELMU is taking place in Kuwait on 4-5 November 2020.

The Saudi Arabia Environmental Sustainability Programme

The Saudi Arabia Saudi Sustainability Programme is as a result of a strategic cooperation agreement between UNEP and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  The Strategic Cooperation Agreement was signed in May 2019 and came into effect, a year later in May 2020. Further to this, UNEP Office has started its operations in October 2020 in MEWA.

The objective of the programme is to develop and enhance the institutional and regulatory structures for the environment sector by reviewing, evaluating, and preparing the institutional framework and organizational structures for the environment sector in MEWA. The core areas of work include environmental governance, climate action, air pollution, chemicals and waste, biodiversity and ecosystems services and environmental performance monitoring among others.

Key priorities areas for the programme include the development of institutional frameworks and organizational structures, regulations, and policies; capacity building and training programmes for ministry and its executive centres; provision of high-level experts for environmental regulations, law, air quality, water, soil, chemicals, waste, mining, pastures, forests, biodiversity, climate change, ozone etc. and technical evaluation of the initiatives under implementation of National Environment Strategy and the National Transformation Plan contributing to the achievement of Saudi’s Vision 2030.

Global Projects where West Asia is taking part:

The Montevideo Programme: A Decade of Action on Environmental Law

Since 1982, UNEP has conducted its environmental law activities on the basis of sequential ten-year Montevideo Programmes for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law.  In March 2019, the UN Environment Assembly adopted the Fifth Montevideo Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law (Montevideo Programme V).  The programme has commenced in January 2020.

National focal points and stakeholders participated in the Montevideo V Programme's first global meeting which was held on 23-25 March 2020, in Rio de Janeiro. Participants provided guidance to UNEP on relevant institutional and implementation arrangements for the programme, together with identifying needs and priorities in the field of environmental rule of law. West Asia Focal points had the opportunity to discuss regional challenges under the Environmental law and shared experiences with other law makers and experts from more around the Globe.   

Key Publications:

Environmental Rule of Law

The Environmental Rule of Law report draws on experiences, challenges, viewpoints, and successes of diverse countries around the world, highlighting global trends as well as opportunities for countries and partners to strengthen the environmental rule of law. The Report also highlights numerous actionable steps that States can take to support environmental rule of law.

Global Environment Outlook

The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is UNEP’s flagship assessment and the only UN report with an outlook component to provide a regular update on the state and trends of the global environment. It identifies policy options and their indicative costs and benefits, bringing diverse stakeholder groups together to raise awareness on these key trends and policy solutions. The sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6), focusing on the theme “healthy planet, healthy people”, aims to help policymakers and all of society achieve the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals, internationally agreed environmental goals and the multilateral environmental agreements.

Environment Outlook for the Arab Region (EOAR)

The Environment Outlook for the Arab Region (EOAR) is the first official, comprehensive, and integrated assessment of the state of environment in the Arab region. It is a credible, scientific assessment that provides a base for policy formulation in the region. The report was prepared in response to a decision by the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE), in its 17th session, held at the headquarters of the Secretariat-General of the League of Arab States, in Cairo, Egypt, in December 2005.

Arab Region: Atlas of Our Changing Environment

The Arab Region: Atlas of Our Changing Environment is a unique and powerful publication which brings to light stories of environmental change at more than 80 locations spread across the Arab region. Using a combination of ground photographs, current and historical satellite images, and narrative based on extensive scientific evidence, the atlas illustrates how humans have altered their surroundings and continue to make observable and measurable changes to the Arab region and its environment.

Vulnerability Assessment of Freshwater in West Asia

The project is a national and regional vulnerability assessment that will contribute to a better understanding of freshwater resources vulnerability to threats and its impacts on development options, human well-being and the environment. It identifies the potential impacts of climate change on water resources in the region and assesses the current adaptive capacity of the water sector. It also provides decision makers with strategic responses and policy options to improve water resource management including adaptation measures.

Core Set of Sustainable Development Indicators for the Arab Region

The Core Set of Sustainable Development Indicators provides guidelines for the development and use of environmental indicators for the Arab region. It presents a core set of priority environmental indicators addressing three priority themes in the region - freshwater resources, land resources and coastal and marine environment. Additionally, the report presents other WSSD-WEHAB priority themes, including energy, biodiversity, health and environment.

Key Partners

Collaborating Centres: