G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting in 2000
Informal Meeting of the G7 Environment Ministers
Florence, March 12-13, 1994


Chairman's Notes

Florence hosted on March 12 and 13 a meeting of Environment Ministers of the seven most industrialized Countries (G7) and the Commission of the European Union, to exchange views in an informal setting on some crucial environmental questions. The meeting was opened by Prime Minister of Italy Carlo Azeglio CIAMPI, who welcomed the initiative and highlighted the relevance of this informal encounter for the oncoming Summit of the G7 in Naples.

The following personalities responded favourably to the invitation of the Italian Minister for Environment, Valdo SPINI:

CANADAMrs. Sheila COPPS, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister of Environment.
FRANCEMr. Michel BARNIER, Minister of Environment.
GERMANYMr. Klaus TOEPFER, Minister of Environment.
JAPANMrs. Wakako HIRONAKA, Minister of Environment.
UNITED KINGDOMMr. John GUMMER, Minister of Environment.
UNITED STATESMr. Robert SUSSMAN, EPA Deputy Administrator.
Sen. Tim WIRTH, Undersecretary of the State Department.
EUROPEAN UNIONMr. Yannis PALEOKRASSAS, Commissioner for the Environment.

During the meeting delegations addressed in detail a number of relevant issues.


GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT

Participants expressed concern on increasing deterioration of the global environment, as regards in particular global warming, ozone layer depletion, desertification fresh water pollution biodiversity.

The implementation of the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity will provide new impetus to the programmes of mitigation of the greenhouse gas emissions and spur the international community to counter the alarming loss of the Earth's genetic patrimony.

The negotiating process for a Convention to fight the scourge of desertification in the most threatened areas of the Earth (such as Africa, including the Mediterranean Southern rim) must be accelerated.

The establishment of an intergovernmental Task Force on Forests, to tackle both boreal and tropical forests is a first and urgent step for further negotiations aimed at a global Forestry Convention.

The increasing depletion of freshwater resources, especially in areas of the world where water problems can lead to regional tensions, must be tackled through greater international cooperation.

Putting science and technology at the service of global environment is a common priority, to be pursued through the strengthening of the technological cooperation.

Developed as well as developing countries should encourage the launching of well-defined programmes of technology partnership. In this context, more permanent and stable support existing multilateral research initiatives is necessary.

The role of the Global Environment Facility is essential to the sustainable management of the global commons. The success of the ongoing negotiation on the GEF restructuring and replenishment is crucial to this aim.


DEMOGRAPHIC PRESSURE ON THE ENVIRONMENT

The need to face the demographic challenge to the carrying capacity of the Earth by integrating demographic considerations and environmental policies is a priority.

Successful efforts to reduce rapid population growth and wasteful consumption patterns are essential to achieve sustainable development. The “critical loads” of the planet should be assessed, particularly for sensitive areas like the Mediterranean ecosystem.

In addition, an increased committment by multilateral development banks and funds, as well as by the private sector is necessary.

The forthcoming World Conference on Population and Development, to be held in Cairo next September, should also address all relevant environmental implications.


ENVIRONMENT, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION

International cooperation on the environment can enhance employment and welfare.

Employment and growth opportunities are associated with investments in environmental infrastructure, energy efficiency improvements, innovative communication and transportation networks, clean-up of polluted areas.

Furthermore, a double advantage (or double dividend) for the environment and employment can be achieved by tax reforms, which shift fractions of the tax burden from labour to natural resources.


FINANCING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Views are converging on the need to partially substitute merely financial commitments with a mix of policies that integrate environmental objectives.

The implementation of Agenda 21 could be therefore pursued more effectively:

-by reducing the currently high volume of environmentally damaging subsidies both in the industrialized and in the developing countries
-by expanding use of ecotaxes, to be fiscally neutral through the reduction of other taxes
-by resorting to market-based instruments, as ecotaxes, incentives, tradable emission permits, debt-nature swaps, etc.,

As regards the management of existing aid policies, an environmental orientation and a strengthening of multilateral agencies were advocated. Indeed, the lending programmes of the multilateral development banks are critical to achieving the sustainable development objectives of the developing countries.


TRADE AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Sound environmental and trade policies can be mutually supportive.

Environment regulation is not harmful to trade. Infact, environmental regulation that internalizes environmental costs into the price structure is essential if gains from trade liberalization are to be assured.

On the other hand, expanded trade is not intrinsically harmful to the environment in so far as using environmental resources more efficiently is the key to pollution prevention.

It is urgent to establish a permanent Committee on Trade and Environment in the new structure of the World Trade Organization, which will be born from GATT next April at the ministerial Conference of Marrakesh. This Committee should be mandated with a well-defined work programme.

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