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United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The principal outcome of the 1972 UN Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment was the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme. Providing an integrative and interactive mechanism through which a large number of separate efforts by intergovernmental, non-governmental, national and regional bodies in the service of the environment are reinforced and interrelated. UNEP advocated a concept of environmentally sound development, which later led to the adoption of Sustainable Development, paving the way for the Programmes integrated approach through all sectors.
The primary challenge for UNEP is to ‘...further catalyse, promote and implement an environmental agenda that is integrated strategically with the goals of economic development and social well being - an agenda for sustainable development’. UNEP’s functions for achieving this focus around the promotion of environmental science and information. This facilitates a process of raising awareness on emerging environmental problems within an organisation which has the structure and direction to address them.

UNEP’s activities have included work on the following:

Sustainable management and use of natural resources, including focussing on: Water security in Africa; Regional seas programmes and the protection of the marine environment from human activities; Global bio-diversity assessments; Depletion of forests; Wildlife conservation; Climate and Desertifcation

Sustainable Consumption & Production, including; Cleaner production; Green technologies; Ecotourism

Human health & well-being

Globalisation of the economy and the environment

UNEP has also supported a number of conventions, treaties and protocols which have facilitated work on emerging issues. These include Ozone, Climate, Endangered species (CITES), Hazardous wastes (Basel).
In addition the Programme has produced reports on the State of the Environment, Indicators of Sustainable Development and World Resources. To support this UNEP co-ordinates network programmes including Environmental & Natural Resource Information Networking and Infoterra. These are designed to facilitate global networks for environmental information sharing.

The latest major publication is the Global Environment Outlook Report 2000 (GEO 2000).

For further information on UNEP visit


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