Countries in the pan-European region will continue to benefit from the recommendations of environmental performance reviews (EPRs) beyond 2022, following the adoption of the fourth cycle of EPRs by UNECE’s Committee on Environmental Policy at its 26th session, held on 9 and 10 November.
In his presentation of the fourth cycle of EPRs, the Chair of the Expert Group on EPRs, Mr. Harry Liiv (Estonia) highlighted the content of future reviews, which is largely similar to the third cycle of EPRs as it will cover environmental governance and financing, domestic-international interface, environmental media and pollution management and integration of environment into selected sectors. However, selected chapters will be strengthened, for instance to address in depth the impact of climate change on priority sectors, mainstreaming climate adaptation, the mitigation of greenhouse gases and low-carbon development. The content on green economy will be enhanced to address the circular economy, if requested by the country under review. The sectoral focus continues to be valuable and the fourth-cycle will be looking at how environmental concerns are mainstreamed into priority sectors, such as energy, agriculture, transport and industry.
Mr. Liiv drew attention to a new element, which is a nexus option available for interested countries to examine the water-food-energy-ecosystems, air-transport-health, or water-soil-waste nexus. The benefit of the nexus approach lies in assessing the multi-dimensional interlinkages of the actions taken in each component of the nexus, which can have effects in one or several other components, and in making recommendations for more targeted and coherent actions.
EPRs will continue to address the Sustainable Development Goals, guided by the options agreed by the Committee on Environmental Policy in 2017, which could be enhanced depending on the needs of reviewed countries. The fourth cycle will continue to address issues related to human rights and the environment and to make recommendations that consider the needs of vulnerable groups.
To support countries’ efforts to respond to, recover from and prevent future pandemics, the fourth cycle will address issues identified as being of concern during the pandemic, such as the management of hospital and plastic waste, the safe use of public transport, the promotion of active mobility and the reduction in fine particulate matter, which may be a vector for the virus. EPRs will also address how countries responded to the pandemic with policy packages increasing resilience and supporting a green economic recovery.
The assessment of the status of implementation of the recommendations made in previous reviews will continue to figure prominently in the fourth-cycle. Most importantly, the decision on the substantive content of fourth-cycle EPRs will continue to be taken in a flexible manner, guided by the specific needs of each reviewed country.
The fourth cycle was designed by the UNECE Expert Group on EPRs in consultation with the members of and observers to the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy through a series of meetings and consultations.
The adopted fourth cycle of EPRs is submitted by the Committee on Environmental Policy to the Ninth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference (Nicosia, 5–7 October 2022) for ministerial endorsement. The Chair of the Committee, Ms. Elisabete Quintas da Silva (Portugal), congratulated participants with the first document submitted to Nicosia Ministerial Conference.
The document presenting the fourth-cycle EPRs is available in English, French and Russian at: http://www.unece.org/index.php?id=54631