UNEP Milestones

¥ The Global International Waters Assessment, a four-year UNEP-led, GEF funded initiative executed by Kalmar University, is expected to make a major contribution to policies and actions that will lead to the protection and more sustainable use of international waters. The Assessment will focus on the problems of shared, transboundary waters and is designed not merely to analyse current problems but to develop scenarios on the future condition of the worldÕs water resources as well as analyse policy options with a view to providing sound scientific advice to decision- makers and managers concerned with water issues. The products of GIWA are expected to represent the most objective and comprehensive assessment of transboundary water issues, as well as their societal root causes.

¥ UNEP was the driving force behind the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. As a result of this global agreement, industrialized countries ceased production and consumption of a significant proportion of all ozone depleting substances in 1996. The diminishing worldwide consumption of ozone-depleting substances - nearly 75% in the last seven years led to a simultaneous decline in the growth rate of these substances in the atmosphere. An estimated 1.5 million cases of melanoma skin cancer due to the sun's UV-B radiation will be averted by the year 2060 as a result of the Protocol.

¥ UNEP is the leading force for the global sound management of hazardous chemicals and to reduce or eliminate risks they pose to human health and the environment. UNEP jointly with FAO successfully facilitated the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and pesticides in International Trade. UNEP is currently managing the negotiation of a legally binding instrument on persistent Organic Pollutants. Through the Chemical programme of information dissemination and capacity building, UNEP has helped to close the gap between the world's technical knowledge and expertise on hazardous chemicals management and the people who need to use it.

¥ UNEP has been at the forefront of efforts to protect the world's biological diversity by forging the Convention on Biological Diversity. By administering the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), UNEP helps protect over 30,000 of the world's endangered species. As a result, the elephant has been brought back from the brink of extinction, thanks to the ban on international trade in ivory and other elephant products. UNEP's key role led to an increase in the number of rhinoceroses in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, peninsular Malaysia and India.

¥ UNEP and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) signed a partnership agreement in 1995 to highlight environmental conservation in sports competitions. The environment now figures as the third pillar of Olympism, along with sport and culture in IOC's Charter. In partnership with IOC, UNEP has initiated the development of environmental guidelines for sports federations and countries bidding for the Olympic Games.

¥ Cooperation between UNEP and FAO came to fruition in September 1998 with the formal adoption of the Rotterdam Convention, covering the growing trade in hazardous pesticides and chemicals. Now an importing country must give explicit informed consent before specific chemicals can cross its borders - particularly important to countries without the scientific expertise or equipment to deal with them safely. Indeed the use of some of these chemicals has left a legacy of problems, including cancers and birth defects. The Rotterdam Convention, which replaces various voluntary systems, will initially cover 22 pesticides and five industrial chemicals, including chlordane and heptachlor, banned in Europe and North America but still used in developing countries; DDT, which continues to be released into the environment where it poisons wildlife; and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) - highly toxic to humans and found in blood and tissue thousands of kilometres from where the chemicals were released.

¥ UNEP promoted the preparation of The Global Biodiversity Assessment (1995), a major endeavor mobilizing the global scientific community to analyze the state of knowledge and understanding of biodiversity and the nature of our interactions with it. This monumental work is an independent, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of the current issues, theories and views regarding the main aspects of biodiversity.

¥ UNEP launched the International Declaration on Cleaner Production in October 1998, to reinforce the general recognition and endorsement for a more intense and broader adoption of cleaner production as a preventive environmental management strategy of industry. More signatories commit themselves to implement cleaner production and regularly monitor results achieved. In May 1999, ministers and key industry decision makers in 33 countries signed the Declaration.

¥ UNEP is actively promoting the Global Reporting Initiative developed in partnership with leading multi stakeholder organizations to encourage voluntary environmental reporting by companies around the world. A global set of guidelines for corporate sustainability reporting has been developed and over 20 corporations from around the world have agreed to actively pilot test the guidelines.

¥ UNEP is a driving force to engage private sector leaders in a change of course towards sustainability, in particular through the voluntary initiatives developed in the field of mining, telecommunication, tourism and financial services.


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