The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the voice for the environment in the United Nations system. It is an advocate, educator, catalyst and facilitator, promoting the wise use of the planet's natural assets for sustainable development. UNEP's mission is "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."
UNEP does this by
Promoting international cooperation in the field of the environment and recommending appropriate policies.
Monitoring the status of the global environment and gathering and disseminating environmental information.
Catalyzing environmental awareness and action to address major environmental threats among governments, the private sector and civil society.
Facilitating the coordination of UN activities on matters concerned with the environment, and ensuring, through cooperation, liaison and participation, that their activities take environmental considerations into account.
Developing regional programmes for environmental sustainability.
Helping, upon request, environment ministries and other environmental authorities, in particular in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to formulate and implement environmental policies.
Providing country-level environmental capacity building and technology support.
Helping to develop international environmental law, and providing expert advice on the development and use of environmental concepts and instruments.
UNEP's global base is in Nairobi, Kenya. It is one of only two UN programmes headquartered in the developing world (the other is UNEP's sister agency UN-HABITAT, which is also located in Nairobi). Being based in Africa gives UNEP a first-hand understanding of the environmental issues facing developing countries.