JACQUES Chirac, President of France, contributed an article to The Independent yesterday about France's priorities for the G8 meeting this weekend in St Petersburg. One short paragraph caught my eye: The current ecological crisis demands effective and co-ordinated global responses. I will call upon my counterparts to commit to the rapid establishment of a United Nations Environment Organisation. That made me blink and read the paragraph again in case I had misunderstood it. But no, the President of France wants to create an organisation that already exists! The UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972 recommended that a UN Environment Organisation should be created and the UN General Assembly approved its establishment later in the same year although it was named as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP); its headquartes are in Nairobi, Kenya. UNEP does good work even though its funding is limited since it relies to a considerable extent on voluntary funds from member states and other organisations. If President Chirac's intention is to put UNEP's finances on a sounder footing, he will get a lot of support. If, however, he has in mind to create a wholly new and competitive organisation with its headquarters in Paris (naturally), I doubt he will get very far. Either way, I do hope that M. Chirac's officials note his error and prevent him from looking foolish at what may be his last G8 summit.
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