The Environment for Europe (EfE) process, a unique regional platform of the highest level for dialogue on environment and sustainable development, was launched by the first EfE ministerial conference held at Dobris Castle (then Czechoslovakia) in 1991, in the times of great political changes that required fresh instruments and tools for international cooperation. The EfE process was created to meet these requirements and it has lived up to its promises.
The EfE process, lead and directed by countries, is a partnership of member States of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region, with the participation of other UN Member States, organizations of the United Nations system represented in the region, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academia and other major groups.
Every four to five years, the EfE process organizes ministerial conferences that provide stakeholders with an effective high-level platform for agreeing on general directions for cooperation, developing specific initiatives, legal documents and policies, practical actions and tools. UNECE provides the secretariat for the EfE process, while the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy (unece.org/environment-policy/committee-environmental-policy) is currently responsible for organizing the conferences. The UNECE Steering Committee on Education for Sustainable Development (unece.org/steering-committee-esd) has been organizing high-level meetings of Ministries of Education and Environment within the framework of EfE Ministerial Conferences since the adoption of the UNECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in 2005 (unece.org/esd-strategy).
Since 1991, eight ministerial conferences have been held, hosted by the countries of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia:
The Ministerial Conference in Nicosia in 2022 will be the first EfE Ministerial Conference organized in the Mediterranean region.
Through its concrete outcomes, the EfE process has largely shaped the current landscape of regional approaches to environment and sustainable development cooperation. The following non-exhaustive list of some of the results that the process has either produced or helped launch in the more than 30 years since its inception clearly demonstrates its importance for regional cooperation:
Through its concrete outcomes, the EfE process has to a significant extent shaped the present landscape of the regions’ approach to sustainable development cooperation. The below non-exhaustive list of some of the outcomes that the process has either produced or helped to launch through more than 30 years since its launching clearly demonstrates its importance for the regional cooperation:
At the UNECE website more information can be found on the EfE process (unece.org/environment-policy/environment-europe), the previous 8th EfE Ministerial Conference (Batumi, Georgia, 2016; unece.org/welcome), past ministerial conferences (unece.org/history-process), initiatives, and more.
Photos from the Eighth Ministerial Conference which took place on 8-10 June 2016 in Batumi, Georgia.
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