Nairobi should remain as center of U.N. environmental activities

Nairobi, March 21 (G-77/IPS) -- Ambassador T.P. Sreeniviasan of India, Chairman of the Committee of Permanent Representatives of UNEP in Nairobi says that since the last Governing Council session of UNEP, industrial nations have been calling for a review of the governing structures of UNEP ''even though the need of the hour is to improve the resource position and to provide leadership to UNEP.''

At the insistence of the industrial nations, the Executive Director proposed the creation of an Executive Board as ''a panacea for all the ills of UNEP,'' he says. ''The developing nations unanimously rejected it, because the proposal struck at the very root of democratic decision-making and the importance of Nairobi as the headquarters of UNEP,'' Sreenivasan points out. He also notes that the creation of a small Executive Board of environment ministers as an intersessional body would deprive the larger membership of the Governing Council of the opportunity to have their say in the administration of UNEP.

Moreover, the intention of the new Board was to meet in different parts of the world in conjunction with major international conferences. On the other hand, the existing Committee of Permanent Representatives is a representative, transparent body and it functions in Nairobi where many countries maintain diplomatic missions to serve U.N. offices based there, he notes. ''The controversy therefore was not about the merits of ministers as against ambassadors -- as is being made out by some developed nations, but about the merits of an existing democratic system of governance as against an exclusive club,'' he contends. ''It is also about maintaining the primacy of Nairobi as the centre of environmental activities.''