SACEP is the intergovernmental environmental organization for the South Asia region. The primary function of SACEP is to work with its eight member countries:
- To promote cooperative activities in priority areas of environment of mutual concern;
- To ensure that these activities are beneficial individually and collectively to the member states of the region;
- To extend support as needed through exchange of knowledge and expertise available among the member countries;
- To provide local resources towards implementation of projects and activities.
- To maximize the impact of support received from donor countries and other sources.
The 9th Meeting of the Governing Council held in August 2005 formally re-endorsed the role of SACEP as an intergovernmental organization of the region and entrusted SACEP to work closely with all national, regional, and international institutions, governmental and non governmental organizations as well as experts and other groups involved with environmental protection and sustainable development.
While there are many environmental and development challenges common to the countries of the region, actions at regional level can create synergy and optimize the benefits. SACEP seeks to work in areas where regional cooperation and collective action can add value to member countries and produce better outcomes for the region. The 9th Governing Council approved a new work programme of SACEP which include the following broad areas:
- Waste Management
- Adaptation to Climate Change
- Data Management
The 11th and 12th Meetings of the Governing Council of SACEP included the following arears to its Work Programme.
- Environmentally Sustaninable Transport (EST)
- Combatting Illegal Trade in Wildlife
- Restoration of Biodiversity
SACEP is also an appropriate forum for action on transboundary environmental issues. These are issues where the geographical scope or impact extend beyond national boundaries. One such area of engagement is control and prevention of air pollution and its likely transboundary effects.
Hosting and co-ordinating regional arms of international programmes and activities, have been a major role played by SACEP. For example, SACEP since 1983 has served as the secretariat for the South Asian Seas Programme, which comes under the umbrella of UNEP Regional Seas Programme.
During 33 years of its existence, SACEP in collaboration with various partner organizations had implemented a number of programmes in the field of Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Clearing-House Mechanism, Climate Change, Coastal and Marine Environment, Combating Illegal Trade in Wildlife, Data and Information Management, Environmental Education, Environmental Law, Environmentally Sustainable Transport, Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements and Waste Management etc.