A network of 13 African countries that evolved in response to political and technical needs expressed by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) at its 9th session in 2002. A central objective of AEIN is to build capacity for establishing the essential data foundation and information management framework needed to support country-level integrated environmental assessments and reporting, within the broad framework of sustainable development goals and initiatives. A specific objective is to support the Africa Environmental Outlook (AEO) process while strengthening capacity for state-of-the-environment reporting at the national and sub-regional levels.

The significant reduction of the environment fund of UNEP in the mid nineties lead to a downsizing of a number of programme activities including the dissolution of three Programme Activity Centres - GEMS/PAC, GRID/PAC and Infoterra/PAC – that constituted UNEP-Earthwatch. This left formal networks of partners working in relative isolation from UNEP’s programme of work in the area of environmental assessment, early warning, and data and information exchange. As a result, considerable momentum was lost, including at the national level with governmental partners.   No resources were available for a systematic analysis of partner functionsas the basis for a strategy to consolidate and revitalise networking activities in the area of environmental assessment, data and information.  A small network of 34 GEO collaborating centres, mainly non-governmental, was established to support the production of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report.  Very few ENRIN, GRID or Infoterra partners were engaged in the GEO process.  The ENRIN capacity building project nominated national focal points, many of whom, overlapped with Infoterra NFPs though the functions were different.