Regional Consultation Meeting Nairobi, 26-27 October 2006

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Opening Remarks by Cristina Boelcke, Director, Division of Regional Cooperation, UNEP.

I am very pleased on behalf of the Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch to welcome you in Nairobi and Gigiri.

Since 2000, UNEP organizes a yearly Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF), in conjunction with UNEP Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC / GMEF). This forum is the main entry point for civil society participation at governance level in the United Nations Environment Programme. This growing network also represents opportunities to further engage civil society at programmatic level.

Important improvements in the process of the Global Civil Society Forum (GCSF) cycle have been made, including through the regional consultation meetings, which are organized since 2004.

However, there remain challenges in enhancing the impact of the GCSF cycle, through a more continuous engagement with CS, an improved inter-regional dialogue, and an enhanced participation, related to expertise, major groups and gender balance and accreditation status.

During the course of the meeting, we will propose and discuss with you new modalities for the GCSF cycle, aimed at addressing some of these challenges, including through the creation of a Global Steering Committee elected for one year and the launch of an open bid for an African local secretariat.

Since its inception, the United Nations Environment Programme has enjoyed a special relationship with civil society in tackling environmental issues. Over the years, UNEP has been working towards engaging an increased number of major groups. The commitment and genuine involvement of all social groups is indeed critical to the effective implementation of the objectives, policies and mechanisms in the field of environment and development.

We are thus very pleased to see that 6 of the 9 major groups as defined in Agenda 21 are represented in this meeting, with a view to truly achieve multi-stakeholder dialogue for an increased impact of CS at large at governance level.

We wish you a very fruitful meeting and are looking forward to sharing the African CS statement that you will draft, with CS in the other regions and with the ministers at the upcoming 24th GC.