UN Environment Programme (1972; Nairobi; ~2380 staff; unep.org)

The “leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.”  They aim “to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.”

It sponsors the Green Economy Initiative, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, World Environment Day, and the UN Environment Assembly. The inaugural UNEA in March 2014 had over 1200 participants, 170 national delegations, 112 delegations headed at minister level and 40 events during the five-day event at UNEP’s Headquarters in Nairobi. “UNEA marks a milestone in the four decade-long journey to accord environmental issues such as those outlined above the same status as the challenges to peace, security, finance, health and trade,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “The fact that for the first time all member states of the United Nations will be represented in UNEP means increased legitimacy, representation of all voices across the spectrum of both regional and developmental realities, and empowerment of the Ministers responsible for the environment.”

Divisions:

  • Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA)
  • Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI)
  • Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE)
  • Regional Cooperation (DRC)

Focus areas:

Publications:

  • News & Stories
  • Knowledge Repository
  • Project Data
  • Science & Data
  • Annual Report
  • An extensive library of 6000+ annual reports, assessments, case studies, fact sheets, policy and strategy papers, reports, etc.
  • HIGHLIGHTS:
    • Global Assessment of Soil Pollution (2021) – This report “considers both point source contamination and diffuse pollution, and detail also the risks and impacts of soil pollution on human health, the environment and food security, without neglecting soil degradation and the burden of disease resulting from exposure to polluted soil.”
    • Sixth Global Environment Outlook (March 2019, 745p; 28p summary in six languages) – A series of flagship reports.  First published in 1997, this 6th report (GEO6), with the theme of “Healthy Planet, Healthy People,” covers climate change as a priority issue, the growing chasm between rich and poor countries, declining genetic diversity as a threat to food security and ecosystem resilience, rising sea levels and ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, water quality “worsened significantly since 1990” in most regions due to organic and chemical pollution, governance challenges, biodiversity (“a major species extinction event is unfolding”), land and soil, resources and materials, effectiveness of environmental policies, the need for transformative change, innovations for systemic transformation, trends in target achievement for selected Sustainable Development Goals, and benefits from following sustainable future pathways: human health and well-being, prosperity, and resilient societies.

Leadership: Inger Andersen (Executive Director), Joyce Msuya (Deputy Executive Director, UN Assistant Secretary-General)
Budget: ~$425m (2018)