United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Environment Programme

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) coordinates United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices
Environmental peacebuilding
Peacebuilding is both the theory and practice of identifying the conditions that can lead to a sustainable peace between those who have previously been adversaries, and assisting adversaries to move towards a sustainable peace. Environmental peacebuilding examines and advocates environmental...

. It was founded as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was an international conference convened under United Nations auspices held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16, 1972...

 in June 1972 and has its headquarters in the Gigiri neighborhood of Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

, Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

. UNEP also has six regional offices and various country offices.

Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere
Earth's atmosphere
The atmosphere of Earth is a layer of gases surrounding the planet Earth that is retained by Earth's gravity. The atmosphere protects life on Earth by absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention , and reducing temperature extremes between day and night...

, marine and terrestrial ecosystem
Ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

s, environmental governance and green economy. It has played a significant role in developing international environmental conventions, promoting environmental science
Environmental science
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical and biological sciences, to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems...

 and information and illustrating the way those can be implemented in conjunction with policy, working on the development and implementation of policy with national governments, regional institutions in conjunction with environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). UNEP has also been active in funding and implementing environment related development projects.

UNEP has aided in the formulation of guidelines and treaties on issues such as the international trade in potentially harmful chemicals, transboundary air pollution
Air pollution
Air pollution is the introduction of chemicals, particulate matter, or biological materials that cause harm or discomfort to humans or other living organisms, or cause damage to the natural environment or built environment, into the atmosphere....

, and contamination of international waterways.

The World Meteorological Organization
World Meteorological Organization
The World Meteorological Organization is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 189 Member States and Territories. It originated from the International Meteorological Organization , which was founded in 1873...

 and UNEP established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

 (IPCC) in 1988. UNEP is also one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility
Global Environment Facility
The Global Environment Facility unites 182 member governments — in partnership with international institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector — to address global environmental issues....

 (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol
Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion...

, and it is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.

Executive Director


UNEP's current Executive Director is Achim Steiner
Achim Steiner
Achim Steiner is a German expert in environmental politics. From 2001 to 2006 he was Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources...

, who succeeded previous director Klaus Töpfer
Klaus Töpfer
Klaus Töpfer is a German politician and environmental politics expert. From 1998 to 2006 he was executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme ....

 in 2006. Dr Töpfer served two consecutive terms, beginning in February 1998.

On 15 March 2006, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

, nominated Achim Steiner
Achim Steiner
Achim Steiner is a German expert in environmental politics. From 2001 to 2006 he was Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources...

, former Director General of the IUCN to the position of Executive Director. The UN General Assembly followed Annan's proposal and elected him.

The position was held for 17 years (1975–1992) by Dr. Mostafa Kamal Tolba, who was instrumental in bringing environmental considerations to the forefront of global thinking and action. Under his leadership, UNEP's most widely acclaimed success—the historic 1987 agreement to protect the ozone layer—the Montreal Protocol
Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion...

 was negotiated.

During December 1972, the UN General Assembly unanimously elected Maurice Strong
Maurice Strong
Maurice F. Strong, PC, CC, OM, FRSC is a Canadian entrepreneur and a former under-secretary general of the United Nations. Strong's first name is pronounced "Mor'ris" with the accent on the first syllable....

 to head UNEP. Also Secretary General of both the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, which launched the world environment movement, and the 1992 Earth Summit, Strong has played a critical role is globalizing the environmental movement.
# Picture Name
(Birth–Death)
Nationality Took office Left office
1 Maurice Strong
Maurice Strong
Maurice F. Strong, PC, CC, OM, FRSC is a Canadian entrepreneur and a former under-secretary general of the United Nations. Strong's first name is pronounced "Mor'ris" with the accent on the first syllable....


(1929–)
 Canada 1972 1975
2 Mostafa Kamal Tolba
Mostafa Kamal Tolba
Mostafa Kamal Tolba is an Egyptian scientist most famous for his 17-year tenure as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme ....


(1922–)
 Egypt 1975 1992
3 Elizabeth Dowdeswell  Canada 1992 1998
4
Klaus Töpfer
Klaus Töpfer
Klaus Töpfer is a German politician and environmental politics expert. From 1998 to 2006 he was executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme ....


(1938–)
 Germany 1998 2006
5
Achim Steiner
Achim Steiner
Achim Steiner is a German expert in environmental politics. From 2001 to 2006 he was Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources...


(1961–)
 Germany 2006 present

Structure


UNEP's structure includes six substantive Divisions:
  • Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA)
  • Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI)
  • Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE)
  • Division of Regional Cooperation (DRC)
  • Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC)
  • Division of Communications and Public Information (DCPI).

International years


The year 2007 was declared (International) Year of the Dolphin
Year of the Dolphin
The year 2007 was proposed and declared as the Year of the Dolphin by the United Nations and United Nations Environment Programme , along with the UN Convention on Migratory Species, and its specialized agreements on dolphin conservation ACCOBAMS and ASCOBANS and the WDCS.-Background:Dolphins are...

 by the United Nations and UNEP.

(International) Patron of the Year of the Dolphin is H.S.H. Prince Albert II
Albert II, Prince of Monaco
Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco is the head of the House of Grimaldi and the ruler of the Principality of Monaco. He is the son of Rainier III, Prince of Monaco, and the American actress Grace Kelly...

 of Monaco
Monaco
Monaco , officially the Principality of Monaco , is a sovereign city state on the French Riviera. It is bordered on three sides by its neighbour, France, and its centre is about from Italy. Its area is with a population of 35,986 as of 2011 and is the most densely populated country in the...

, with Special Ambassador to the cause being Nick Carter
Nick Carter (musician)
Nickolas Gene "Nick" Carter is an American singer-songwriter, dancer, musician, entertainer and actor. He is best known as a member of the pop group, Backstreet Boys. He went on to release a solo album called Now Or Never during their hiatus. He has made occasional television appearances and...

, of The Backstreet Boys.


2010 was designated the International Year of Biodiversity and presented an opportunity to enhance knowledge of ecosystems and their services.

Currently we are celebrating the International Year of Forests and preparing for 2012, which has been designated the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All.

(See international observance
International observance
International observance denotes a period of time to observe some issue of international interest or concern. This is used to commemorate, promote and mobilize for action. Many of these periods have been established by the United Nations General Assembly, Economic and Social Council or by UNESCO...

 and list of environmental dates.)

Reports


UNEP publishes many reports, atlases and newsletters. For instance, the fourth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-4) assessment is a comprehensive report on environment, development and human well-being, providing analysis and information for policy makers and the concerned public. One of many points in the GEO-4 warns that we are living far beyond our means. It notes that the human population is now so large that the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available. Humanity’s environmental demand, or ecological footprint
Ecological footprint
The ecological footprint is a measure of human demand on the Earth's ecosystems. It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It represents the amount of biologically productive land and sea area necessary to...

, is 21.9 hectares per person while the Earth’s biological capacity is, on average, only 15.7 ha/person.

In June 2010, a report from UNEP declared that a global shift towards a vegan diet
Veganism
Veganism is the practice of eliminating the use of animal products. Ethical vegans reject the commodity status of animals and the use of animal products for any purpose, while dietary vegans or strict vegetarians eliminate them from their diet only...

 was needed to save the world from hunger, fuel shortages and climate change.

Reform



Following the publication of Fourth Assessment Report
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report
Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , is the fourth in a series of reports intended to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information concerning climate change, its potential effects, and options for...

 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a scientific intergovernmental body which provides comprehensive assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and...

 (IPCC) in February 2007, a "Paris Call for Action" read out by French President Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

 and supported by 46 countries, called for the United Nations Environment Programme to be replaced by a new and more powerful "United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO)", also called Global Environment Organisation now supported by French President Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy is the 23rd and current President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating the Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier....

 and German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

, to be modelled on the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

. The 46 countries included the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 nations, but notably did not include the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

, Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, the top four emitters of greenhouse gases.

Main activities


UNEP's main activities are related to :
  • climate change;
    • including the Territorial Approach to Climate Change
      Territorial Approach to Climate Change
      The Territorial Approach to Climate Change works with local level governments in developing countries and countries in transition to increase resilience to climate change impact and reduce their carbon footprint...

       (TACC);
  • disasters and coflicts;
  • ecosystem management;
  • environmental governance;
  • harmful substances; and
  • resource efficiency.

Famous world projects


UNEP has sponsored the development of solar loan programs, with attractive return rates, to buffer the initial deployment costs and entice consumers to consider and purchase solar PV systems. The most famous example is the solar loan program
Indian Solar Loan Programme
The Indian Solar Loan Programme, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme has won the prestigious Energy Globe World award for Sustainability for helping to establish a consumer financing program for solar home power systems...

 sponsored by UNEP helping 100,000 people finance solar power systems in India
Solar power in India
India is densely populated and has high solar insolation, an ideal combination for using solar power in India. India is already a leader in wind power generation...

. Success in India's solar program has led to similar projects in other parts of developing world like Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

.

UNEP sponsors the Marshlands project in Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 that helps to protect the largest marshland in Middle East. In 2001, UNEP alerted the international community to the destruction of the Marshlands when it released satellite images showing that 90 percent of the Marshlands had already been lost.The UNEP "support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshland" commenced in August 2004, in order to manage the Marshland area in an environmentally sound manner.

In order to ensure full participation of global communities, UNEP works in an inclusive fashion that brings on board different societal cohorts. UNEP has a vibrant programme for young people known as Tunza. Within this program are other projects like the AEO for Youth.

Glaciers shrinking


Glacier
Glacier
A glacier is a large persistent body of ice that forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its ablation over many years, often centuries. At least 0.1 km² in area and 50 m thick, but often much larger, a glacier slowly deforms and flows due to stresses induced by its weight...

s are shrinking at record rates and many could disappear within decades, the U.N. Environment Programme said on March 16, 2008. The scientists measuring the health of almost 30 glaciers around the world found that ice loss reached record levels in 2006. On average, the glaciers shrank by 4.9 feet in 2006, the most recent year for which data are available. The most severe loss was recorded at Norway
Norway
Norway , officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic unitary constitutional monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Jan Mayen, and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard and Bouvet Island. Norway has a total area of and a population of about 4.9 million...

's Breidalblikkbrea glacier, which shrank 10.2 feet in 2006. Glaciers lost an average of about a foot of ice a year between 1980 and 1999. But since the turn of the millennium the average loss has increased to about 20 inches.

Electric vehicles


At the fifth Magdeburg Environmental Forum held from 3–4 July 2008, in Magdeburg, Germany, UNEP and car manufacturer Daimler called for the establishment of infrastructure for electric vehicle
Electric vehicle
An electric vehicle , also referred to as an electric drive vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion...

s. At this international conference, 250 high-ranking representatives from industry, science, politics and non-government organizations discussed solutions for future road transportation under the motto of "Sustainable Mobility–the Post-2012 CO2 Agenda".

See also


  • 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership
    2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership
    The Biodiversity Indicators Partnership brings together a host of international organizations working on indicator development, to provide the best available information on biodiversity trends to the global community. The Partnership was initially established to help monitor progress towards the...

  • United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative
    United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative
    The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative is a public-private partnership established between the United Nations Environment Program and the financial sector...

  • Global warming
    Global warming
    Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

  • International Renewable Energy Agency
    International Renewable Energy Agency
    The International Renewable Energy Agency was founded in 2009 to promote widespread and increased adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy. IRENA facilitates access to all relevant renewable energy information, including technical data...

  • Melbourne Principles
    Melbourne Principles
    The "Melbourne Principles" for Sustainable Cities are ten short statements on how cities can become more sustainable. They were developed in Melbourne on 2 April 2002 during an international Charette, sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Council for Local...

  • Miss Earth Foundation
    Miss Earth Foundation
    Miss Earth Foundation is a non-stock, non-profit organization, which serves as the environmental-social-humanitarian outreach arm of Miss Earth beauty pageant. It was established to institutionalize the environmental mission of Miss Earth...

  • Timeline of environmental events
    Timeline of environmental events
    The timeline lists geological, astronomical, and climatological events in relation to events in human history which they influenced. For the history of humanity's perspective on these events, see timeline of the history of environmentalism...

  • UNEP GEO Data Portal
    UNEP GEO Data Portal
    The UNEP GEO Data Portal is the authoritative source for data sets used by the UNEP and its partners in the Global Environment Outlook report and other integrated environment assessments...

  • UNEP/GRID-Arendal
    UNEP/GRID-Arendal
    GRID-Arendal is an office in the United Nations Environment Programme , located in Arendal, Norway. The office is part of the UNEP/GRID network of environmental data and information centers, under the UNEP Division of early warning and assessment....

  • United Nations Billion Tree Campaign
    United Nations Billion Tree Campaign
    Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign is a worldwide tree planting campaign established by the United Nations Environment Programme with the goal of a billion trees being planted during 2007...

  • World Conservation Monitoring Centre
    World Conservation Monitoring Centre
    The United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre is an executive agency of the United Nations Environment Programme, based in Cambridge in the United Kingdom. UNEP-WCMC has been part of UNEP since 2000, and has responsibility for biodiversity assessment and support...


Further reading

  • United Nations Environment Programme. "Natural Allies: UNEP and Civil Society." Nairobi: United Nations Foundation
    United Nations Foundation
    The United Nations Foundation started up in 1998 with a $1 billion grant from Ted Turner in order to support the United Nations in executing its programs worldwide. The creation of the Foundation was intended to encourage other donors to also support the UN in its activities...

    , 2004.
  • Paul Berthoud, A Professional Life Narrative, 2008, worked with UNEP and offers testimony from the inside of the early years of the organization.

External links