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Explore the virtual environmental reality On UNEP dot net

Nairobi - 8 February 2001 - The launch today by UNEP of a new interactive environmental Web site (http://www.unep.net) known as "UNEP dot net" will provide an expanded series of environmental management solutions. The network portal will offer a forum for scientific, technical peer review; provision of insights on environmental issues to the global community; and exchange of ideas, information and data.

Developed with industry, academic, government, and NGO partners, UNEP.Net is an Internet-based environmental information network, or meta-system (system of systems). This will bring together new integrated information frameworks and harmonized, readily accessible data sets to support assessment and decision-making across the international system, including UNEP's own assessment activities. It will also reduce national reporting burdens.

This portal provides impressive capabilities, previously limited to military intelligence agencies, to travel around the Earth on any computer connected to the Internet, and select a country or environmental topic by pointing to a map, selecting from lists, or typing in a search word. With UNEP.Net, any citizen can create a map of anywhere in the world and add facts and figures from the vast statistical records associated with each map. Citizens and government managers can quickly appear to be advanced environmental scientists with the easy tools available through UNEP.Net. "By making scientific facts and data about the Earth's environment easily accessible and reported, we hope to enhance the ability of decision makers to use accurate and up to data information. Better information should lead to better management of the planet's resources," said Dr. Tim Foresman, the UNEP director of UNEP.Net.

UNEP.Net builds on the wealth of scientific information available from numerous environmental institutions. UNEP is thus fulfilling a part of its mandate by bringing together environmental information and data providers while also facilitating and encouraging the exchange of information to service the public using the most current Internet technologies. UNEP is tapping this resource by connecting disparate, often isolated, specialized institutions to begin a globally networked partnership of scientific data and environmental information providers.

The site also hosts independent specialized solutions and data and information of those experts publishing on the site to address specialized environmental issues and concerns. The applications can be accessed by specialized software and toolkits provided through the site or directly with any Web browser with limited but extremely useful functionality.

UNEP will continue negotiating contributions with various partners maintaining respect for intellectual property, while at the same time encouraging partners to exchange and make information and data available free of charge in support of the Aarhus Conventions principles.

A key partner in the development of UNEP.Net is Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), a globally recognized leader in the development of spatial or geographic information system technologies. ESRI has been instrumental in starting the UNEP.Net initiative by contributing technical and substantive environmental expertise as well as global datasets. There is a rapidly growing list of institutions joining the partnership and they will be clearly acknowledged on the site. The UNEP.Net portal is at http://www.unep.net

For further information please contact: Ms. Beth Ingraham, Information Officer, Division of Early Warning and Assessment, P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya; Tel (254-2) 624299 Fax: ( 254-2) 623293; Email: beth.ingraham@unep.org Web: www.unep.org

UNEP News Release 01/17