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On 23rd of May 2019 the third and final session of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group established by General Assembly resolution 72/277 “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment” concluded its work. Following its consideration of the possible gaps in international environmental law (IEL) and ways to strengthen the implementation of existing instruments, the Working Group submitted its recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly. OceanCare and other NGO representatives had hoped for a much more ambitious outcome.

The final document adopted sets out the objectives guiding the recommendations, substantive recommendations and consideration of future work. There is little doubt that the outcome of the Working Group’s work is weak. Yet, over the three sessions we have seen a number of countries that have encouraged the closing of gaps in international environmental law, with a view to an instrument to guide this process. Although the final session has made it abundantly clear that fundamental differences between member states remain, the recommendations adopted by the Working Group have laid the foundation for the continuation of the process.  “When the Global Pact for the Environment was first introduced by the Club de Jurists in 2017, it was the opportunity for meaningful action to protect the environment. The outcome of the Working Group has however hampered our expectations. Yet, with the positive input from a number of delegations we are hopeful that the process will continue and that we will take a leap towards the better protection of the environment” says Johannes Müller, Ocean Policy Consultant for OceanCare.

It is now up to the United Nations General Assembly to guide the organisation’s future work towards a Global Pact for the Environment. OceanCare will remain appraised of how the process will continue and we will continue our efforts in encouraging governments of the importance of an instrument that closes gaps in international environmental law.

Joint NGO Statement

Conference summary by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)