A principal mandate of UNEP is to monitor the world environmental situation to ensure that emerging environmental problems of wide international significance receive appropriate and adequate consideration by governments. By tapping into the vast knowledge and expertise of the scientific community and academia as well as traditional knowledge holders, UNEP has managed to keep the world informed of emerging environmental issues.
UNEP’s role in assessments consists of catalysing the efforts of the scientific community around environmental topics. UNEP operates in the following manner:
- Identification of institutes or associations that have the required scientific expertise;
- Development of networks between these organizations named “collaborating centres” and UNEP to facilitate similar standards and reporting procedures;
- Establishment of a contract between UNEP and the CSO that stipulates how UNEP will assist the organization technically and financially to undertake the assessment or reporting activities;
- Development of the scientific assessment/products by the collaborating centre with UNEP support.
Providing Sound Science for decision-makers
In order to fulfill this role, UNEP’s Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) collaborates with a number of scientific centres that provide databases of information. The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), a centre specialised in biodiversity, and the Global Resource Information Database (GRID) Centres are good examples of such collaborations.
||GRID (Global Resource Information Database)
The Global Resource Information Database centres are a small, global network of 13 institutions (governmental, non-governmental and academic) that are centres of excellence in remotely sensed data gathering and have geo-spatial capability to manage this data. In general, the responsibilities of the GRID centres are to analyse remotely sensed data, compile global datasets and provide technical information support to regional and global assessment processes.
||Global Environment Outlook (GEO)
UNEP undertakes environmental assessments, such as the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report and regional environmental assessments based on the same model. Capacity building of scientific institutions in developing countries and countries with economies in transition is at the core of the scientific assessment process. It is critical to underline the central place that Major Groups and other stakeholders play in these assessments. The Global Environment Outlook is based on a network of more than 30 collaborating centres, many of which are universities, research institutes, etc.