The international environmental topics on the agenda for the first half of 2006 are chemicals, energy, biodiversity, genetic engineering, sustainable international development and climate:
The conference will be held in Dubai on 4-6 February 2006 in the run-up to the 9th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council. It will bring to a close a three-year process of negotiations on the development of a global chemical strategy (Strategic Approach on International Chemicals Management, SAICM). The aim is to take into consideration the entire lifecycle of chemical substances in all areas of production, use and disposal. A special feature of the strategy is that all relevant areas and sectors are included, i.e. industrial processes, health and environmental protection, protection of workers/consumers and disposal. Austria is particularly interested in creating the conditions for developing countries to be able to implement the strategy.
The Dubai conference aims to reach a conclusion on the most controversial points still pending in the international chemicals strategy, which will then be adopted by the Ministers. The strategy will mainly be implemented through the United Nations Environment Programme.
The 9th Special Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in combination with the Global Ministerial Environment Forum will be held in Dubai on 7-9 February 2006 immediately after the International Conference on Chemicals Management. In addition to consultations with Ministers on strengthening UNEP institutionally within the United Nations, the three topics of energy, chemicals and tourism will be on the agenda. The chemicals discussions will follow on from the negotiations at the International Conference on Chemicals Management, and the Governing Council will formally transfer the mandate to implement the strategy to UNEP. The Special Session of the Governing Council is the first major international conference in 2006 to address the topics of sustainable energy and climate protection. Both will be central themes during the first half of 2006, as they will also be discussed at the 14th Session of the Commission for Sustainable Development and in the framework of the sessions of the sub-bodies of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The third meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety will be held in the run-up to the Biodiversity Conference. The negotiations will be a clash between the interests of the major exporters of genetically modified products and the interests of developing countries. For this reason, the EU has emphasised the necessity of efficiently implementing in all areas the Protocol to protect biological diversity, especially in the developing countries.
One of the largest international environmental conferences during the 2006 EU Presidency will be the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP8-CBD). At the Johannesburg summit (World Summit on Sustainable Development) in 2002, the international heads of state and government committed themselves to a significant reduction of the loss of biological diversity by 2010. Important decisions on realising and measuring progress in achieving the 2010 biological diversity objectives are expected at COP8.
A second important area is the continuation of the ongoing negotiations on developing an international system of access to, and the fair allocation of, the advantages from the use of genetic resources.
The 14th meeting of the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) will be held in New York on 1 to 12 May 2006. The topics for the current two-year work cycle are energy for sustainable development, air pollution/atmosphere, industrial development and climate change.
Energy will be the central theme and will also be the topic of most discussions. The EU will emphasise the necessity of access to energy services for basic facilities (hospitals, schools) in developing countries, improvements in energy efficiency, primarily in industrial countries, increased use of renewable energy sources and energy security.
Sustainable consumption and production models are major themes in this cycle. This area is characterised on the international level by the fact that a link can be created between the political and the project levels.