Keeping the global environment under review

On 23 October, 2014 in Berlin, Germany, governments and stakeholders set in motion the sixth edition of the UNEP flagship Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) assessment. The upcoming GEO-6, expecting to be launched in mid-2017, will build upon regional assessment processes and create a comprehensive picture of the environmental factors contributing to human well-being, accompanied by an analysis of policies leading to greater attainment of global environmental objectives and goals. The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a consultative process, participatory process that builds capacity for conducting integrated environmental assessments and reporting on the state, trends and outlooks of the environment. GEO is also a series of products that informs environmental decision-making and aims to facilitate the interaction between science and policy.

GEO-6 will be the start of a living process. It will provide the first integrative baseline in light of global megatrends supported by open access to data, with due consideration given to gender, indigenous knowledge and cultural dimensions. The assessment will lay the foundation for continued socio-environmental assessments across relevant scales, with a thematic as well as an integrated focus, enabling and informing societal transitions and the tracking of SDG targets and goals as well as previously agreed internationally environmental goals. The enhanced policy analysis in GEO-6 will be aimed at assisting member states to position themselves on the most effective pathways for transitions towards a sustainable future.

The rigorous assessment process aims to make GEO products scientifically credible and policy relevant - providing information to support environmental management and policy development. GEO also supports multi-stakeholder networking and intra and inter-regional cooperation to identify and assess key priority environmental issues at the regional levels. A world-wide network of Collaborating Centre partners; a transparent nomination process that allows governments and other stakeholders to nominate experts to the process; advisory groups to provide guidance on scientific and policy issues; and a comprehensive peer review processes are some of the integral elements of GEO.

Using the integrated environmental assessment (IEA) methodology, UNEP has produced four GEO reports thus far, which have analyzed environmental state and trends at the global and regional scales, described plausible outlooks for various time frames and formulated policy options.

Each GEO report builds on the assessment findings of its predecessor and draws from lessons learnt.

GEO Products: GEO-6 Regional Assessments,  GEO-5,  GEO-4,  GEO-3,  GEO-2000,  GEO 1

GEO 6 Schedule

  • July - August 2015

    Develop Zero Order Drafts of GEO-6 Regional Assessments

  • 6 - 17 July

    Cambridge Meeting to develop GEO-6 Regional Outlooks and GEO-6 Global Outlooks

  • 14 - 18 September

    Writer’s Sprint to develop Stage 1 Drafts of the GEO-6 Regional Outlooks (Nairobi and on-line)

  • 18 September

    Joint HLG/SAP call to reengage on Global GEO-6

  • 24 September

    SAP call to review Annotated Outline for the Global GEO-6

  • 15 October

    HLG/SAP on-line meeting to discuss GEO-6 Global Assessment Annotated Outline and guidance notes

  • 2-13 November

    Stage 1 Review of GEO-6 Regional Outlooks (by scientific and technical experts)

  • 19 November

    HLG/SAP on-line meeting to plan January face to face meeting

  • 11 Nov - 13

    Authors addressing review comments for the first round of review

  • 9 Dec - 31 January

    Stage 2 Review of GEO-6 Regional Assessments (by governments, stakeholders and experts)

  • 11-13 January 2016

    HLG/SAP Joint Meeting to develop guidance for author teams of the GEO-6 Global Assessment (Geneva)

  • 15-31 January

    Calls between HLG/SAP members and regional author teams to provide high level comments

  • 1-29 February

    Authors addressing review comments for the second round of review

  • 15-19 February

    Open Ended Committee of the Permanent Representatives (OECPR) GEO-6 Regional Assessments Briefings (Nairobi)

  • 5 March

    Draft e-book versions of GEO-6 Regional Assessments

  • 20 March -
    15 April 2016

    Regional meetings to review draft assessments and compile summary findings

  • 23-27 May

    UNEA 2

  • June 2016 Onwards

    Continuing regional outreach and communications


GEO-5 Report

GEO-5 is designed to be the most comprehensive, impartial and in-depth assessment of its kind. It reflects the collective body of recent scientific knowledge, drawing on the work of leading experts, partner institutions and the vast body of research undertaken within and beyond the United Nations system.

GEO-5 for Business Report

GEO-5 for Business is written for business leaders who are responsible for ensuring that risks and opportunities are understood, addressed, and turned into long-term competitive advantage for their companies. The report assesses the operational, market, reputational, and policy implications of environmental trends on various business sectors.

GEO-5 for Youth

TUNZA: Acting for a Better World is in part a call to action and in part a casebook showing how young people are challenging the status quo in their homes and their communities. Written by youth for youth, this report examines a variety of trends related to the Earth's system, and explores whether internationally agreed environmental goals - such as those on climate change, biodiversity loss and dangerous chemicals - are being achieved.

GEO-5 for Local Government

The report shows that pressures on the global environment affect the local level. Conversely, local decisions and responses can not only improve local conditions, but also significantly contribute to improving the state of the global environment.

Measuring Progress

This report outlines findings from a UNEP study that, with support from the Government of Switzerland, has catalogued and analyzed existing “Global Environmental Goals” contained in the international agreements and conventions. It asks the fundamental question as to why the aims and goals of these policy instruments have often fallen far short of their original ambition and intentions.

Keeping Track of our Changing Environment

This publication helps to tell the story of where the world was 20years ago and where we collectively stand today, and to show the direction in which we need to move in a post-Rio+20 world. It also highlights the missing pieces in our knowledge about the state of environment— such as those related to freshwater quality and quantity, ground water depletion, ecosystem services, loss of natural habitat, land degradation, chemicals and waste—due to lack of regular monitoring, collection and compilation of data