In 2008, UNEP’s new Medium Term Strategy (MTS) was adopted along 6 strategic priorities: climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental gover-nance, harmful substances and hazardous waste, and resource efficiency.
The selection of these six themes was guided by scientific evidence, the UNEP mandate, and priorities emerging from global and regional forums.
UNEP’s mandate has five main interrelated areas:
- Keeping the world environmental situation under review. UNEP provides access to environmental data notably through the Global Environment Outlook, which regularly assesses environmental change and its impact on people’s security, health, well-being and development.
- Providing policy advice and early warning information, based upon sound science and assessments. UNEP has created several international scientific panels such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, jointly established with the World Meteorological Organization in 1988 to assess the state of existing knowledge about climate change. The IPPC’s reports helped raise awareness among the media and the general public about the man-made nature of climate change. UNEP also set up the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management in 2007 and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in 2008. These complementary initiatives are aimed at providing policy-makers with the science on which to base their decisions.
- Facilitating the development, implementation and evolution of norms and standards and developing coherent links between international environmental conventions. UNEP has helped establish and implement many international environmental agreements - such as the Montreal Protocol to restore the ozone layer, a growing number of treaties that governs the production, transportation, use, release and disposal of chemicals, and the family of treaties that protects global biodiversity.
- Catalyzing international cooperation and action and strengthening technology support and capacity in line with country needs and priorities. UNEP encourages decision makers in governments, industries and businesses to develop and adopt environmentally sound policies, strategies, practices and technologies. This involves raising awareness, building international consensus, developing codes of practice and economic instruments, strengthening capabilities, exchanging information and initiating demonstration projects.
- Raising awareness and promoting public participation. UNEP publications and outreach activities help disseminate scientific information to decision-makers and provide them with policy guidance. Moreover, special public events like the World Environment Day (every 5 June) or the Billion Tree Campaign stimulate worldwide awareness of environmental issues, encourage political action and promote behavioural change.