Building Institutional Capacities

We build national capacities to develop and enforce laws and strengthen institutions for achieving environmental objectives 

Strong environmental rule of law is the bedrock of environmental governance and a cornerstone of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. At UN Environment we are working internationally and with over 50 individual countries to ensure the progressive development of environmental law. 

What we Do

  1.  We support national institutions to review and develop environmental legislation - see some of our work on Water Laws and our work with Malawi
  2.  We strengthen capacities for the enforcement of environmental laws - see some of our work on the Green Customs Initiative and the Regional Enforcement Network 
  3.  We support governments to comply with multilateral environment agreements (MEAs), to ratify, implement and comply with MEAs -  see some of our work on MEAs support
  4.  We promote public participation and partnership with major groups and stakeholders to ensure inclusive environmental governance - see some of our work on furthering access to information, access to public participation and access to justice, as key pillars of sound environmental governance. 
  5. Progressive Development of environmental law - see some of our work on environmental rule of law

Capacity Building in Action 

  • UN Environment is helping countries to stay in compliance of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) by providing support on the development and implementation of environmental laws and regulations. 
  • Over the last five years UN Environment has provided support to 138 countries to achieve the Global or 'Aichi' Biodiversity Targets. Our actions have been delivered through more than 80 partnerships, with more than 1 billion dollar benefits from ecosystems identified in four countries. 
  • We provided support to 63 countries to ratify the Nagoya Protocol, and 141 projects are currently underway to support the strategic plan for the Convention on Biological Diversity. 
  • We helped 65 countries to participate in the Biosafety Clearing House Project and we provided support to 58 countries to use ecosystem approaches in sectoral planning and processes. 

The Regional Enforcement Network 

How Better Enforcement is making the Environment Safer for us all.

Waste is one of the greatest environmental and health challenges facing the world today.  Global waste generation – which includes hazardous waste - is projected to reach 27 000 million tonnes by 2050. For example, the Mekong sub-region has seen increased use and trade of pesticides, and pesticide production and export from China to other Asian countries have also grown.

A lack of stringent laws and regulations, in addition to weak enforcement in many developing countries has made them highly vulnerable to the dumping and transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. Mis-declaration of goods, false documentation, and concealment are some of the more common methods smugglers of illegal waste use to evade the law.  

UN Environment founded The Regional Enforcement Network to better equip enforcement officers, including customs, police, environmental inspectors and prosecutors with the skills and technical knowledge they need to prevent and control the illegal trade in chemicals and waste. The network has trained more than 1200 front line enforcement officers in the detection of chemicals and waste, and the arrest and prosecution of those guilty of this form of illegal trade. Since the Regional Enforcement Network began its operations in 2007 more than 500 illegal shipments of waste and chemicals have been intercepted by the participating countries.

Collaboration at national, regional and global level leads to more seizures of illegal transboundary shipments of waste and chemicals. This is why the Regional Enforcement Network supports multi-agency cooperation, as well as information and intelligence sharing, joint operations, capacity building and long-term partnerships.

The Regional Enforcement Network is just one example of how UN Environment is enforcing laws and strengthening institutions to empower environmental rule of law across the world.

We are also working with countries to: 

  • Increase the understanding of inter-linkages between human rights and the environment
  • Identify methods to strengthen institutions and laws which protect natural resources
  • Improve legal and policy mechanisms to better combat illegal transnational environmental activities
  • Further the development of environmental norms in relation to natural harm from military action
  • Enhance national water laws, especially related to transboundary resources
  • Support the development and implementation of national, regional and global legal instruments and policies for the sustainable use of freshwater resources

Key Actvities

  • UNDP-UNEP Poverty Environment Initiative
    The Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is a global programme that supports country-led efforts to mainstream poverty-environment linkages into national development and sub-national development planning, from policymaking to budgeting, implementation and monitoring.
  • Regional Ministerial Fora
    Strategic partnerships established for transformative land management approaches to achieve emission reductions from agriculture and other land uses
  • Integrated approach to Sustainable Development
    Environmental sustainability is one of the five fundamental principles used to guide the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) formulation. The others are Human Rights Based Approach, Gender Equality, Results-Based Management and Capacity Development.
  • Integrated Environment into ONE United Nations