KnowOrganizationsThe United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is an agency of the United Nations that coordinates its environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972 and has its headquarters in the Gigiri neighbourhood of Nairobi, Kenya. UNEP also has six regional offices and various country offices.

UNEP promote and facilitate sound environmental management for sustainable development, UNEP’s global and cross-sectoral outlook is reflected in its organizational structure, its activities and is personnel.

UNEP works through its divisions, regional, liaison and out-posted offices, plus a growing network of collaborating centres of excellence. UNEP also hosts several environmental conventions, secretariats, and inter-agency coordinating bodies.

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The Secretariat of Governing Bodies (SGB)The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for supporting the governing bodies of UNEP, which consists of the United Nations Environment Assembly (formerly the Governing Council) and its subsidiary inter-sessional body, the open-ended Committee of Permanent Representatives. SGB organizes and services all meetings of the governing bodies.

SGB also provides the main channel of communication with Governments and works closely with other UNEP divisions and regional offices to provide timely information on the programme and activities of UNEP in support of Governments. SGB coordinates UNEP’s relations with the Permanent Missions to UNEP, Ministries of Environment and other relevant authorities.

Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, environmental governance and green economy. It has played a significant role in developing international environmental conventions, promoting environmental science 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.

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UNEP has aided in the formulation of guidelines and treaties on issues such as the international trade in potentially harmful chemicals, transboundary air pollution, and contamination of international waterways.

The World Meteorological Organization and UNEP established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. UNEP is also one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, and it is also a member of the United Nations Development Group. The International Cyanide Management Code, a program of best practice for the chemical’s use at gold mining operations, was developed under UNEP’s aegis.

UNEP work encompasses:

  • Assessing global, regional and national environmental conditions and trends
  • Developing international and national environmental instruments
  • Strengthening institutions for the wise management of the environment

UNEP acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.UNEP’s main activities are related to : climate change; including the Territorial Approach to Climate Change (TACC); disasters and conflicts; ecosystem management; environmental governance; environment under review; harmful substances; and resource efficiency.

Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in February 2007, a “Paris Call for Action” read out by French President Jacques Chirac 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 and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to be modelled on the World Health Organization. The 46 countries included the European Union Nations but notably did not include the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China, the top four emitters of greenhouse gases.

In December 2012, following the Rio+20 Summit, a decision by the General Assembly of the United Nations to ‘strengthen and upgrade’ the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and establish universal membership of its governing body was confirmed.

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