United Nations Environment Programme

environment for development

  UNEP's Mandate and Activities in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

General Assembly Resolution 2997 (XXVII) of 1972 established UNEP and provided it with a very broad mandate (See UN General Assembly Resolution 2997 (XXVII) of 1972 (Word)). Environmental monitoring and assessment, and related information services, have been a primary focus of UNEP's work since its establishment in 1972. Paragraphs 2 (d) and (e) are the two key components of decision UNGA 2997 (XXVII), which have guided UNEP's mandate in this area.

However, various other mandates have been received as decisions approved by the Governing Council of UNEP, resolutions from the United Nations General Assembly and from other international fora.

Programme Activities

It is impossible to provide details of all relevant activities carried out in response to these mandates. However, selected major UNEP initiatives (both comprehensive and thematic) are summarized here and at www.unep.org/themes/assessment.

At the Intergovernmental Consultation held in Nairobi, 14-15 January 2004, Governments suggested that UNEP could offer an umbrella for coordination by taking periodic stock of ongoing environmental assessment activities, while avoiding duplicating, complicating or interfering with existing mechanisms where those were working well. Given the diversity of all these assessment activities, UNEP has been asked to ‘map the assessment landscape’ and work on this challenging task commenced in 2005. A small snapshot showing the complexity shows that some assessments have been designed in a top-down manner whereas others have evolved in different ways. This pilot exercise aims to provide an overview of thematic and geographic coverage and scope of environmental assessment activities, identify gaps and assist in priority setting.

A pilot system, Prototype Environmental Assessment and Reporting Landscape (PEARL) has been developed to collect, manage, and publish information on the current state of the assessment landscape. The data model used in the system describes the linkages among assessment processes, sub-processes, individual assessments and their published outputs. Metadata forms are available to describe the individual characteristics of these assessments and related outputs.

Systems and Networks

Programme activities in the area of monitoring, assessment and early warning involve numerous institutions, systems and networks. An overview of these systems and networks is available at http://science.unep.org/systems.asp

© UNEP 2009