The Governing Council, Recalling its decision 25/11 (I) concerning the Fourth Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law, Recalling the 1997 Nairobi Declaration on the Role and Mandate of the United Nations Environment Programme, Noting principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and acknowledging the importance given to broad public participation and access to information and judicial and administrative proceedings in the outcome document, “The future we want”, of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and in regional and national regimes and processes, Recalling the guidelines for the development of national legislation on access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters, as well as the guidelines for the development of domestic legislation on liability, response action and compensation for damage caused by activities dangerous to the environment, both adopted by the Governing Council in its decision SS.XI/5 A and B, Welcoming the important contributions made to sustainable development by environmental law and constitutional provisions and rights of some countries related to nature, Noting that democracy, good governance and the rule of law, at the national and international levels, as well as an enabling environment, are essential for sustainable development, including sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, environmental protection and the eradication of poverty and hunger, Noting also that offenses against the environment, in particular trafficking in hazardous waste, wildlife and illegal timber, is increasingly committed by organized criminal groups and recalling that international cooperation at all levels in accordance with international law while respecting national jurisdictions contributes to combating those offenses more effectively, Recognizing the important contribution made by the legal and auditing community worldwide to the enforcement of standards and safeguards for environmental sustainability, Noting General Assembly resolutions 67/1 of 24 September 2012 and 67/97 of 14 January 2013 on the rule of law at the national and international levels and Economic and Social Council resolution 2012/19 on strengthening international cooperation in combating transnational organized crime in all its forms and manifestations, which urges Member States to consider addressing transnational organized crimes that have a significant impact on the environment, including trafficking in endangered species of wild fauna and flora, Noting also the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, “The future we want”, endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 66/288 of 27 July 2012, Noting the report of the Executive Director6 and the information contained therein on the outcome of the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, Mindful of the Fourth Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law, adopted by the Governing Council in 2009, which sets the strategy and a non-exhaustive list for United Nations Environment Programme activities to be taken in coordination with states and others in the development and implementation of Environmental law for the decade beginning in 2010. Acknowledges the work of chief justices, heads of jurisdiction, attorneys general, auditors general, chief prosecutors and other high-ranking representatives of the judicial, legal and auditing professions at the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, 17–20 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 1. Notes that an independent judiciary and judicial process are vital for the implementation, development and enforcement of environmental law; 2. Emphasizes that environmental and sustainability auditing are important in ensuring transparency, access to information, accountability and the efficient use of public finances while protecting the environment for future generations; 3. Emphasizes also that justice, including participatory decision-making, access to information and judicial and administrative proceedings as well as the protection of vulnerable groups from disproportionate adverse environmental impacts, should be seen as an intrinsic element of environmental sustainability; 4. Recognizes that the violation of environmental law has the potential to undermine sustainable development and the implementation of agreed environmental goals and objectives at all levels and that the rule of law and effective governance play an essential role in reducing such violations and invites Governments and relevant organizations to further strengthen mechanisms and explore initiatives for exchanging information and sharing experiences in order to reinforce international, regional and subregional cooperation to combat the noncompliance with environmental laws, including, inter alia, measures to increase the effectiveness of administrative, civil and criminal enforcement mechanisms, institutions and laws in the field of environment as well as applicable education and training; 5. Requests the Executive Director: (a) To lead the United Nations system and support national Governments upon their request in the development and implementation of environmental rule of law with attention at all levels to mutually supporting governance features, including information disclosure, public participation, implementable and enforceable laws, and implementation and accountability mechanisms including coordination of roles as well as environmental auditing and criminal, civil and administrative enforcement with timely, impartial and independent dispute resolution; (b) To improve coherence and coordination, seek opportunities to collaborate and promote partnership with, and avoid duplication among, United Nations entities and other relevant entities working to promote improved environmental governance at the national level and to provide support for existing efforts and initiatives in coordination with the Rule of Law Coordination and Resource Group; (c) To promote quality information and data exchange among the legal and auditing communities and improve education, capacity-building and technical assistance, including with the aim of strengthening effective national environmental governance systems and improving the effectiveness of rule of law systems; (d) To encourage the further expansion of information sharing about environmental jurisprudence and the development of specialized expertise in environmental law among judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials; (e) To promote the continued engagement in the work referred to above of judges, prosecutors, auditors and other related authorities such as inspectors, investigators, police, regulatory enforcement officials and other components of the environmental, legal and enforcement community and the institutions they represent, including associated networks, and exploring the possible establishment of an international institutional network; 6. Invites Governments to cooperate to build and support the capacity of courts and tribunals as well as prosecutors, auditors and other related authorities such as inspectors, investigators, police and regulatory enforcement officials at the national, subregional and regional levels to implement environmental law so as to promote effective domestic judiciary and enforcement institutions in environmental matters and to facilitate exchanges of best practices in order to achieve environmental sustainability, including through networks at the international and regional levels; 27 7. Acknowledges with appreciation the significant work and initiatives already undertaken by individual countries, international organizations and other entities to promote improved environmental governance at the national level, 8. Requests the Executive Director to present a report on the progress made in the implementation of the present decision, as part of a report on the mid-term review of the Fourth Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law envisaged in decision 25/11 (I), to the Governing Council at its twenty-eighth session.