The Montevideo IV Programme

Montevideo IV: Towards the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly

In its resolution 2/19 on the Midterm Review of the Fourth Programme on the Development and Period Review of Environmental Law (Montevideo Programme IV), the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) invited member States to designate national focal points for exchanging information and building capacities in order to collaborate with and guide the United Nations Environment Programme in strengthening the application of the Montevideo Programme and to monitor and evaluate its implementation. To this date, over 95 Member States have nominated national focal points.

A meeting of senior government officials expert in environmental law was held in Montevideo from 7 to 11 September 2015 in order to address the midterm review of the fourth Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law. Read the meeting report here. During the meeting, participants considered the following document prepared by  expects in the field of environmental law: Future shape of international law to address pollution of global significance affecting the Earth's ecosystems. Please read the document here.

UNEA resolution 2/19 further requested UN Environment, in close collaboration with national focal points, to prepare (i) an assessment of the implementation, effectiveness and impact of the fourth Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law, and (ii) proposals for the work by the United Nations Environment Programme in the area of environmental law for a specific period beginning in 2020.The resolution also requires UN Environment to provide an opportunity for comment on the aforementioned assessment and proposals by relevant actors who are undertaking the implementation of the fourth Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law, including major groups and relevant stakeholders.

In this context, the Evaluation Office of UN Environment undertook an open and all-inclusive process to prepare a final assessment of Montevideo Programme IV. In this process, Governments, United Nations bodies, other relevant intergovernmental bodies and organizations, secretariats of the relevant multilateral environmental agreements, expert institutions, academia and civil society were invited to participate to a survey (5. Hyperlink) on the implementation of the Programme. The survey provided all stakeholders an opportunity to participate to the process and share relevant experiences, progress or challenges in one or more of the specific programme areas of Montevideo Programme IV, as well as views concerning important and emerging issues in the field of environmental law.

The final assessment of the Programme served as the basis for discussing proposals for the work by UN Environment in the area of environmental law for a specific period beginning in 2020. The final assessment and the proposals will be presented at the UN Environment Assembly in March 2019.

A part of the above mentioned consultative process, UN Environment organized a series of regional consultations for Montevideo national focal points to share and exchange information on latest developments, trends, and good practices in the development and enforcement of environmental law in their respective countries. The consultations also allowed UN Environment to gather information from the focal points on the status of implementation of Montevideo Programme IV and to identify national and regional priorities, in particular in view of the development of the next phase of the Programme.

Regional Consultative Meetings

Please find below some information on the regional consultations:

Meetings of the Montevideo Focal Points
  • In addition to the regional consultations, one Global Meeting of Montevideo focal points took place in September and November 2018 in Geneva.
  • A Meeting of the Group of the Friends of the Co-Chairs for the Montevideo Progarmme will take place in Nairobi from 26 to 28 November 2018.  
  • Read more about the First Global meeting and The meeting of the Group of Friends.
About the Montevideo Programme

Since the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), environmental law has been one of its key areas of work. From 1982 to date, UN Environment’s environmental law activities have been organized and coordinated through a series of 10-year programmes, adopted by UN Environment’s Governing Council, for the development and periodic review of environmental law, widely known as the Montevideo Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law (Montevideo Programme). A number of multilateral environmental agreements were conceived under the Montevideo Programmes and negotiated under the auspices of UN Environment.

The current fourth Montevideo Programme is as a broad, action-oriented strategy and agenda for the world in the field of environmental law for the decade beginning in 2010. The Programme has become synonymous with the evolution of environmental law. It has been instrumental in steering the efforts of the international community to develop environmental law which transforms science-based policies into action-oriented rules and standards of conduct. The Montevideo Programme has ensured that, in 2018, environmental law is an integral part of the rule of law across the world, both at the national and international levels, governing norms and setting standards relevant to various aspects of the interface between human society and the environment.

The Montevideo Programme has also been a powerful driver for exemplifying increasing linkages between environmental law and other areas, most notably the three pillars of the United Nations, namely peace and security, human rights and development. It has assisted the international community to highlight areas of concern, gaps and challenges, and has provided a comprehensive framework for the progressive development of legal principles and obligations in the field of the environment. These areas of concern include: illegal trade in wildlife, environmental crime, marine litter and microplastics, and lead in paint and batteries, amongst others.

Read more about the Montevideo Programme.

For more information, please contact:

Lara.Ognibene[at] or Arnold.Kreilhuber[at]