Tore Brevik, DCPI former Director
From 1988 - 2002, I worked for UNEP under 3 different Executive Directors; (Tolba, Dowdeswell and Toepfer) and also had a lot of contact with Maurice Strong, as the Director for Communications and Public Information. At first, my part of UNEP's organization was called Information and Public Affairs, (IPA), later Communication and Public Information (CPI) and then the Division of Communication and Public Information (DCPI).
During this anniversary the key milestones will feature prominently, but it is important to remember the organization's mandate to inform and create public awareness. This work has been about much more than treaties and conferences. UNEP has been in the forefront of international awareness building. It was of course important to build our various projects and activities around the many conferences, meetings and treaties.
I will claim that during my time of service, we were pioneers and in the forefront when it came to information about the world environment and sustainable development. For instance, long time before the term "global warming" was much known, we had campaigns with exhibitions, posters, books and magazines. Sometimes we received criticism from Permanent Representatives that we moved too fast and used untraditional ways of conveying the message.
We were responsible for speech writing for the ED, production and distribution of publications, all the important media activities, and UNEP's flagship magazine "UNEP News" which evolved into "Our Planet". The article "All in the mind" will say more about our information strategy.
The establishment of TVE and our close cooperation over the years has been most important, but we were involved in many other areas of audio visual productions and for a period we started and were responsible for a television soap opera for Africa: "Heart and Soul". I must not forget that we organized together with Canon, "Focus on Your World"- the world's largest photographic competition, with a series of international exhibitions and books. One exhibit was for instance held at London, Heathrow. We also had the idea and sponsored "Shootback" - children's' photos from the Nairobi slum, with book publication and exhibits. UNEP/CPI was also been running a large photo archive.
We were responsible for the "Outreach"-programme and the successful building up of contacts and relations with non-governmental organizations and civil society - all crucial leading up to the Rio conference. We started a very successful programme for Children and Youth - it is still a key area. There are many publications and activities aimed at young people - please refer to UNEP's home pages.
We arranged meetings and published books like: "Ethics and Agenda 21","The local Agenda 21 Planning Guide" (with ICLEI), "Poverty and the Environment","Earth and Faith" - a book for recollection and action and the handbook "Taking Action"- an environmental guide for you and your community. I must also mention "Caring for the Earth" - a Strategy for Sustainable Living - in partnership with IUCN and WWF.
UNEP's Library at Gigiri must also be remembered - a lot of old publications and documents were saved from destruction and is now used for research and reference. This library is another key to UNEP's history and many activities and of great value to the many visitors at Gigiri.
Later we emphasized the important links between sport and the environment and were responsible for initiating formal cooperation with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the formulation of the Olympic Movement's Agenda 21. This has forever changed how IOC and international sports organizations are conducting their activities. (I am happy to still be a member of IOCs Commission for Sport and Environment). The close cooperation with IOC has resulted in a wide range of information activities with global conferences, publications and regional seminars.
We were also responsible for organizing major World Environment Day events on June 5th every year, running the "Global 500" programme, the UNEP Sasakawa Prize and then there were the Goodwill Ambassadors for UNEP.
With the introduction of Internet and the building of satellite links to the rest of the world, a new area started, using computer communication. UNEP's home pages were introduced. Before that, we had faced many difficulties and costs in getting our media services as fast as possible to the world - we were after all headquartered in East Africa. Remember, in the beginning we were relying on telephone, mail and faxes. The time differences had also to be taken into account and we tried to reach and cover all time zones from Nairobi. That often meant long days and nights. The computer age changed all that. I have picked a few, important things from the top of my head.
I have been privileged to serve UNEP for close to 15 years and being closer to events and key people than most. Those years were, I believe, some of the most exciting and interesting years in UNEP’s colorful history."