United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
UNEP is the United Nations Environment Programme. It was set up by the UN General Assembly in 1972 at the initiative of Sweden and other countries.
UNEP (the United Nations Environment Programme) works on:
- promoting international environmental cooperation;
- coordinating and providing guidance for environmental action in the UN system and monitoring implementation;
- monitoring the state of the global environment and identifying the environmental issues of highest priority;
- contributing to the acquisition, assessment and exchange of environmental knowledge and information from scientific and other professional communities;
- giving policy and capacity-building advice to governments, regional bodies and other organisations on environmental matters;
- reviewing the impact of international environmental measures on developing countries, as well as what costs they give rise to; and
- developing international environmental law.
UNEP has a responsibility for coordinating environmental issues in the UN. In recent years, and especially since the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, this role has expanded to also include cooperation in the UN system on the environmental dimension of sustainable development. UNEP also works to promote the integration of environmental considerations in development work by cooperating with other multilateral organisations.
Cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank is particularly important so as to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations in economic and social policy. UNEP has a programme on environment and development along with UNDP - the UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI). It is about providing developing countries with financial and technical assistance to build their capacity for environmental work. UNEP also participates in an initiative for environment and security, ENVSEC, along with UNDP, NATO and several other organisations.
UNEP is taking part in work to reform UN presence at country level so that the organisation acts more coherently. A pilot project called "One UN" is under way and UNEP is participating in all eight pilot countries. This is also a way of strengthening the integration of environment in the development plans of poor countries, as well as being a way for UNEP to develop its cooperation with other UN bodies.
Currently the international system of environmental management is fragmented and lacks a coordinating force. For example, at present there are some 500 international environmental agreements. Sweden considers that UNEP's role is to be that coordinating force and that the organisation therefore needs capacity to meet existing needs in a satisfactory way. Sweden is therefore working in the EU and internationally to strengthen UNEP. Reforms are also being carried out in UNEP to make the organisation more relevant, efficient and effective. Sweden has taken on a highly proactive role in this work.
UNEP reports to the UN General Assembly through the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The General Assembly elects its Governing Council. The Governing Council, which consists of 58 member countries, is elected for four years at a time. It holds regular sessions in Nairobi every other year. Since 2000 part of the Governing Council Session consists of a policy forum for the world's environment ministers, the Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF).
At UNEP headquarters in Nairobi the Executive Director and his secretariat consult with the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) four times a year. The CPR consists of representatives of all member states. Since spring 2006 the Executive Director has been Achim Steiner from Germany.
Sweden one of the largest donors
The major part of UNEP's aggregate income consists of voluntary contributions from the member states. The member states make contributions to the UN Environment Fund, which finances the implementation of the UNEP work programme. The work programme and budget are adopted by the environment ministers of member states. The budget of the Environment Fund is USD 152 million for 2008-2009. Most member states also give additional contributions to support specific parts of UNEP activities.
Sweden is working for a situation where all developed countries eventually pay at least their share under the regular UN scale of assessments and where significantly more developing countries make contributions than is now the case. The Swedish contribution to the Environmental Fund is just over SEK 27 million for 2008. Sweden usually gives roughly the same amount again to specific parts of UNEP activities, such as work on sustainable consumption and production, chemicals and the marine environment. Sweden is one of the ten largest contributors.
UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank are the implementing bodies of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). UNEP uses funds from the Global Environment Facility to carry out projects intended to protect the global environment in the areas of climate change, the ozone layer, biodiversity, chemicals, the marine environment, water and desertification.