Delegates from around the world gather to attend UNEP's Major Groups Forum Sat, Feb 18, 2012

The Global Major Group and Stakeholder Forum (GMGSF) of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) started today at the UN compound in Nairobi, Kenya.

The annual meeting, which is held in conjunction with UNEP's Governing Council/ Global Ministerial Environment Forum, has this year brought together over 150 delegates of major groups from civil society who are attending a series of open dialogues centered around the themes of the Green Economy and international environmental governance - the focus of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, that will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June.

The Forum will be the last opportunity for the major groups and other stakeholders to come together to refine their positions before the Rio+20 Summit, allowing for the strengthening of a common understanding of the different perspectives on the Green Economy, in the context of sustainable development, as well as the institutional framework which is needed for international environmental governance.

Since its inception in 1972, UNEP has enjoyed a special relationship with major groups in tackling environmental issues. Indeed, the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment, which led to the creation of UNEP, owed much to the enthusiasm, dedication and commitment of major groups. Most of the multilateral environmental agreements (such as the Basel Convention, Montreal Protocol, Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions) were developed thanks to the lobbying efforts of major groups.

In 2004, UNEP established the Major Groups and Stakeholder Branch, in order to enhance participation of major groups in its work. The Branch focuses its activities on nine major groups which include farmers, women, the scientific and technological community, children and youth, indigenous peoples and their communities, workers and trade unions, business and industry, non-governmental organizations as well as local government authorities and other relevant stakeholders.

As part of its effort to make the voice of civil society better heard, UNEP has also launched this year the publication series, "Perspectives", which will present papers and opinion pieces that will focus mainly on topics relevant to Rio+20.

The Forum is taking place on the eve of UNEP's Governing Council on 20 February, when representatives from over 100 countries, including Heads of State, environment ministers, renowned scientists, business leaders and civil society groups will meet. The event will be the last global meeting of environment ministers before Rio+20.

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