7 Envtl. Pol'y & L. 1 (1981)

handle is hein.journals/envpola7 and id is 1 raw text is: 







   World-wide public concern over the quality of en-
 vironmental protection  is not decreasing despite
 energy and inflation problems.
   A national public opinion survey released in Octo-
 ber 1980 by the US  President's Council of Environ-
 mental Quality, showed that national efforts to con-
 trol pollution, regulate new chemicals and develop
 environmentally safe energy sources, are supported
 by a strong majority of the American public. Indeed,
 73%  of those surveyed considered themselves to be
 environmentalists, and 42% felt that environmen-
 tal protection is so important that continuing im-
 provement must be made  regardless of cost.
   Nevertheless, President Reagan in his election cam-
 paign (see Environmental  Policy and  Law,  6 (3)
 1980 p. 109) and since, by his appointment of James
 Watt as Secretary of the Interior (the Minister res-
 ponsible for all the classical environmental ques-
 tions -  wildlife, parks, etc.), has shown that he
 intends to take a different approach with regard to
 environmental matters. The  appointment  was  the
 subject of much  criticism, since for the last three
 years Watt has been a member  of a law firm which
 has brought several law suits against the Department
 of the Interior. Recently, his firm persuaded a Fed-
 eral District Court to rule that the Departments of
 Interior and Agriculture could not refuse to consider
 applications for exploratory oil and gas drilling leases
 on federal land that is being considered for reclassifi-
 cation as wilderness. Watt has said that he wants to
 bring some dramatic changes to federal land manage-
 ment and  in changing some of the personnel in his
 new Department  made  it clear that in future, em-
 phasis will be given to resource exploitation. This
 will indeed be a big policy change, as the Interior
 Department was generally recognized as being effec-
 tive in its environment protection policy.
   Although  conservation of the environment  can
only be implemented  through a political will backed
by  the necessary legal instruments and a minimum
of personnel  and financial means, there are some
countries  which  have achieved  much   without a
written policy or  legislation. There are, however,
several more where  even with enough law on paper,
implementation  gaps  are evident, since the other
pre-requisites are missing. But there are other unac-
countables, as can be seen by the next example:
   UNEP,  shortly after it established the Mediter-
ranean Action Plan -  which most people feel to be
progressing even better than expected, spent substan-
tial resources on a similar plan for the Gulf region,
the Kuwait Action Plan.
   The Gulf Region  of the Middle East is acknow-
ledged to be  one of  the ecologically most fragile
areas of the world. Although the eight Gulf States
are, in principle, prepared to undertake some action
to fulfill the obligations under the treaty (see Envi-
Environmental Policy and Law, 7 (1981)


ronmental  Policy and Law, 4 (2) 1978, p. 81 and 4
(3)  p. 133), the conference, which has always had
preparatory  difficulties and at which it was planned
to  establish the detailed strategy to deal with these
problems,  has had to be postponed indefinitely as a
result of the Irani-Iraqi war. Unfortunately, this may
mean   even longer-lasting consequences for the envi-
ronment   than much of the war damage.
    Yet another reason for a lack of efficiency has
 been reported from Rome,  from the Food and Agri-
 cultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
 which is also concerned with environmental matters.
 In the words of the General Director of FAO,  the
 extent of absenteeism due to illness in the organiza-
 tion has reached a level at which the whole efficiency
 of FAO  is being threatened. His statement comes as
 a result of the so-called secret study carried out
 which names  chronic alcoholism as being at the
 root of the problem. The study says, inter alia, that
 20%  of FAO  personnel have liver damage; that the
 number  of those having to be pensioned off early as
 a result of illness is 30% higher than in other UN
 organizations; and that for October' 79 the average
 daily rate of absenteeism due to illness was 200!
   The  General Director asked all department heads
 to investigate cases of more than average absence
 and to  take the necessary action. However, those
 with an intimate knowledge  of FAO   say that the
 present situation can only be substantially improved
 by an increase in employee morale, itself dependent
 on the general atmosphere prevailing in the organiza-
 tion, which is known  to have deteriorated greatly
 during the past few years.
   Since our field is both policy and law we  feel
 obliged to report on such implementation gaps and
 the different reasons for these; and although a jour-
 nal could be filled with such information, we have
 decided to limit ourselves to a few glaring examples
 and to do this in the Editorial.
   Finally, there is one positive development:
   The UNEP  Working Group  of Experts on Environ-
mental  Law  met  in Geneva  from 2-13   February
1981,  and  completed   its considerations on the
problem  of marine pollution resulting from off-shore
mining and drilling within the limits of national juris-
diction (see Environmental Policy and  Law, 6 (4)
1980, p. 155). At its latest session the Group final-
ized and adopted all the draft conclusions for parts
1-4  (see Selected Documents, p. 50).
   The Group  now  has time to prepare the Senior
Level Meeting  of Experts  on Environmental  Law
scheduled for September  1981  (see Environmental
Policy and Law, 4 (3) 1979, p. 147 and ibid., 6 (4)
1980, p. 154), which may, however, have to be post-
poned  until November  1981  as the government of
Sweden  has given US  $200, 000 to enable regional
pre-conferences to take place (UNEPs   Executive-
Director having said that he has no funds available).
   Sweden  is not only to  be commended   for this
action, but also for a first allocation of US $50,000
to  the special fund the UN established within the
ECE  for the follow-up work  to the treaty on long-
range air pollution.                           O
                                                 1

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