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UN Documentation: Environment

Principal Environmental Bodies

The UN leads environmental policy development through the work of some key bodies.

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development was established in follow-up to the outcome of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development. The Forum is a subsidiary of the Economic and Social Council and General Assembly. 

  • Established by General Assembly resolutions 66/288 of 27 July 2012, 67/203 of 21 December 2012, and 67/290 of 9 July 2013
  • Will convene annually at the ministerial level under the Economic and Social Council, and every four years at the level of Head of State under the General Assembly
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Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) is a subsidiary of ECOSOC with primary responsibility for environmental questions. 

Solar Energy Powers

  • The General Assembly, in its resolution 47/191 of 22 December 1992, requested the Economic and Social Council to establish a high-level Commission on Sustainable Development to ensure effective follow-up to the Conference on Environment and Development (1992).
  • While General Assembly resolution 47/191 contains its mandate, the Commission was established by Economic and Social Council decision 1993/207 of 12 February 1993 (p. 94 of E/1993/93).
  • The Commission was superseded by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 67/203. The 20th and last session was held in 2013.
  • The Commission met annually and reported to the Economic and Social Council.
  • The Commission often served as the preparatory body for major conferences on environmental issues.
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  • Sessional reports
    • Supplement 29 to the Economic and Social Council Official Records (ESCOR)
    • dual symbol: E/year/29 - E/CN.17/year/-
    • example: E/2013/29-E/CN.17/2013/4
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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a specialized expert body to review scientific research and report to policy makers.

  • IPCC website;
  • Established jointly by the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and World Meterological Organization (WMO) in 1988, and endorsed by General Assembly resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988;
  • Network of scientists and experts who review scientific research on the climate change and prepare reports for policy makers;
  • Reports aim to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts;
  • Five Assessment Reports have been completed in 1990, 1995, 2001, 2007 and 2013.

UN Forum on Forests

Foret in KoreaThe UN Forum on Forests is a subsidiary of ECOSOC; it took over the tasks of the two predecessor bodies listed below.

  • Established by ECOSOC resolution 2000/35 of 18 Oct. 2000 to "strengthen political commitment to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests" (p. 64-66 of E/2000/99);
  • The Forum meets annually and reports to the Economic and Social Council;
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  • Sessional reports
    • Supplement 42 to the Economic and Social Council Official Records (ESCOR)
    • dual symbol: E/year/42 - E/CN.18/year/-
  • Press releases series symbol ENV/DEV/-

Predecessors of the UN Forum on Forests

The Inter-governmental Forum on Forests (IFF) was a predecessor body of the UN Forum on Forests, 1997-2000.

  • established by ECOSOC resolution 1997/65 of 25 July 1997;
  • The Forum met annually from 1997 to 2000 and reported to the Economic and Social Council;
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The Ad hoc Inter-governmental Panel on Forests (IPF) was a predecessor body of the Inter-governmental Forum on Forests, 1995-1997.

  • Established by ECOSOC decision 1995/226 of 1 June 1995;
  • The Forum met at irregular intervals between 1995 and 1997 and reported to the Economic and Social Council;
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