Many environmental issues are global, transboundary, or occur in most countries across the planet. For these reasons nations have agreed to a significant number of international treaties over the years, usually referred to as ‘Multilateral Environmental Agreements’ (MEAs), and in particular since the global summits on the environment in Stockholm in 1972 and Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
MEAs are legally binding upon those States that become the party to them (through ratification, accession, acceptance or approval) and often take the form of a legal text known as a Convention, Protocol or Agreement. MEAs generally fall under the auspices of the United Nations (UN), through the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) or the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), or the Council of Europe (COE).
- The UNEP is an agency within the UN that coordinates environmental activities.
- The UNECE is one of the five regional commissions of the UN which aims to promote pan-European economic integration.
- The COE is an international organisation whose aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe, and includes MEAs on biodiversity and landscape protection.
Malta is party to various MEAs and the EU is a party to many such environmental MEAs.