In a change of stance ahead of the Rio+20 summit in Brazil,the government has decided to lend its support to the African proposal to upgrade the status of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to a full-fledged UN agency.
The issue came up for discussion at the Cabinet meeting on Thursday when the mandate of Indias delegation to the summit,to be held in Rio de Janeiro from June 20-22,was being decided.
The African countries had been demanding that the UNEP be elevated to the level of a UN agency like the WHO,UNICEF or similar other bodies,so that its role and mandate could be strengthened. The European Union supports the African proposal but New Delhi had till now been ambivalent at best.
The African countries are likely to raise this demand at the summit and Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan is learnt to have apprised PM Manmohan Singh of Indias current stand on this issue. Singh is believed to have said that there was no harm in showing solidarity with the African countries.