United Nations Environment Programme

environment for development

Overview of the Science Initiative

One of UNEPís main functions since its inception at the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972 is to keep under review the world environmental situation, as mandated by UN General Assembly resolution 2997 (XXVII). The objective being to ensure that emerging environmental problems of wide international significance receive appropriate and adequate considerations by Governments. Human-induced environmental change has accelerated over the last three decades, as is clearly illustrated in UNEPís flagship Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series of reports and other assessments such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment(2005). The increasing complexity of environmental degradation now requires an enhanced capacity for scientific assessment, monitoring and early warning. For this reason UNEPís Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) has initiated a consultative process to identify gaps and needs in the current assessment structure, and the means to address them.

This ongoing multi-stakeholder consultative process to strengthen the scientific base of UNEP is referred to as the Science Initiative. The purpose of this website is to help facilitate, and to report on, the process. The Science Initiative is an evolving process and progress made to date is best described by dividing the process into discrete phases:

Phase 1: 2001-2002 (Origins in the IEG process and the recommendation to strengthen the scientific base of UNEP


Phase 2: 2003 (First global multi-stakeholder consultation on how to strengthen the scientific base of UNEP)

Phase 3: 2004 (Conclusions and recommendations of Intergovernmental Consultation)

Phase 4: 2005 (Evaluation of the conclusions and recommendations and the proposal of a new framework - Environment Watch)

Phase 5: 2005 (Second global multi-stakeholder consultation to further develop the Environment Watch proposal)

Phase 6: 2007 (Third global multi-stakeholder consultations on Environment Watch Strategy: Vision 2020)

© UNEP 2009