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[KUALA LUMPUR] Malaysia has joined the call for global leaders to create a World Environment Organisation (WEO).
The prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, made the proposal in his speech at the First Preparatory Meeting of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, held in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month (12–13 October).
He said that numerous environmental agreements have resulted in a complex system in which each agreement has its own secretariat and administration.
It is expected that global leaders will gather for the Rio+20 environmental summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next June, where the proposal will be discussed.
Najib’s statement follows a letter written in 2009 by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the French president Nicolas Sarkozy, to the UN, requesting the creation of such an agency. Brazil, Italy and Kenya also support the idea.
And last year, during the annual meeting of the UN Environment Program in Indonesia, its executive director Achim Steiner raised the possibility of such an organisation, saying that "the status quo is no longer an option".
Najib said a WEO should be consultative and facilitative rather than regulatory. It would simplify existing systems, making them more coherent, and could achieve better coordination among UN agencies.
Malaysia has been focusing on adopting green technologies in line with its green technology policy.
Its government has also set up a national green procurement policy, which promotes the purchasing of green products by both the government and the private sector.
"In any country, government is usually the biggest consumer, and if government buys green there is a good chance this will spur industry growth and increase market demand," said Najib. "Only with a major overhaul of the governance system will we be able to address the challenges of environmental sustainability."
Nithi Nesadurai, president of the Environmental Protection Society Malaysia, said: "His idea has merit. Environmental issues are dealt with in a fragmented manner. A WEO could help look at the environment in a more holistic manner."