UNEP has always had non-governmental organizations (NGOs) amongst its key partners, whether global, regional, national or even local groupings. n order to develop new partnerships for cooperation and strengthen environmental commitment, it became necessary to reach out to a wider and diversified spectrum of constituencies such as youth, local authorities, trade and consumer unions, industry and the private sector.
UNEP attaches key importance to its partnerships with major groups in civil society the world over. These include UNEP National Committees, parliamentarians, consumers, youth, and other regional and interregional networks. UNEP cooperates with the Television Trust for the Environment, which it co-founded in 1982, to produce international video and film co-productions, and with several other partners.
UNEP National Committees: UNEP raises public awareness on global environmental issues at country level through the establishment of UNEP National Committees. These committees help carry out awareness-raising or educational projects by disseminating environmental information to large audiences in many languages. As at 30 November 2008, UNEP National Committees exist in 32 European countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sweden, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Kingdom, Ukraine and Uzbekistan). There are advanced preparations for establishment of committees in the Baltic States and other European countries.
Parliamentarians: UNEP, together with the Brussels-based organization of parliamentarians from all political parties, GLOBE, promote a better understanding and protection of the world's environment, especially climate and biosafety, through a joint Conventions Watch programme.
Sports, Youth and children: UNEP co-organizes global youth fora, which are held regularly to encourage the participation of students and youth leaders in environmental affairs worldwide. UNEP dialogues with religious and spiritual communities, and works with artists, women, and children. Regular global children conferences contribute to better understanding of major global environmental issues. International children's drawing and painting contests have been organized, as well as international photographic competitions on the environment for young people - all promoting awareness of the need for environmental protection for future generations. In addition, UNEP's close cooperation with the International Olympic Committee aims at promoting greener Games and other sports events.
NGO interregional networks: UNEP collaborates with the Regional Environment Centre, Budapest, on projects between Eastern European NGOs and governments to promote joint research and studies between Western and Eastern European NGOs.
Special events: World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated each year on June 5th. UNEP encourages local community or national and NGO actions and special events around that day to help raise the public's environmental awareness. Each celebration has been marked by a specific theme and has provided an occasion to include individuals and organizations in its Global 500 roll of honour. The Sasakawa Environment Prize is also presented in June to honour nominees for their achievements on the frontlines of global environmental action.