UN SYSTEM-WIDE EARTHWATCH PROGRAMME SUMMARY Annex to the Report of the Secretary-General on Chapter 40: Information for Decision-Making and Earthwatch Prepared for THE UNITED NATIONS COMMISSION ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT April 1995 HUMAN DEVELOPMENT, INSTITUTIONS AND TECHNOLOGY BRANCH DIVISION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT UN SYSTEM-WIDE EARTHWATCH PROGRAMME SUMMARY Contents Preface 2 Summary description of UN System-wide Earthwatch 3 Legislative Mandate 5 UN system-wide contributions to Earthwatch 7 Table 1: Coverage of Agenda 21 programme areas PREFACE This programme summary of the United Nations System-wide Earthwatch includes some results of the in-depth study of Earthwatch undertaken by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the inter-agency Earthwatch Working Party during 1993-1995, and builds on the inputs provided to UNEP as Task Manager for Earthwatch and to the UN Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD) as Task Manager for Agenda 21 Chapter 40: Information for Decision-making in their joint preparation of the Secretary- General's report on Information for Decision-making for the third session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in 1995. It is intended primarily as a working tool for all the organizations cooperating in Earthwatch to assist in improving cooperation across the UN system and beyond and to help in identifying opportunities for collaboration and joint programming. It will be complemented by an electronic version that will be easier to keep up to date as a mechanism to assist all cooperating partners in Earthwatch to work towards a more coherent and integrated assessment of the planetary environment and a more effective flow of information on that environment to decision-makers. The programme summary contains several sections: -- a summary description of the mission, terms of reference, coordinating mechanisms and activities of the UN system-wide Earthwatch as agreed among the partners; -- highlights of the recent legislative mandate for Earthwatch from the UN General Assembly, the UNEP Governing Council, and Agenda 21; -- a listing of the interagency and agency activities, programmes and units contributing to the system-wide Earthwatch; and -- a table listing the major types of information activities by each organization as reported for each programme area of Agenda 21, showing the extent of coverage of the programme areas by such activities, and thus the potential for cooperation and collaboration. These listings still have to be completed with inputs from some organizations that have not yet responded, so some gaps in coverage may be apparent. The listings also do not always show the complementarity of many activities by different organizations in the same programme area. Since Earthwatch is a concept and a dynamic process more than a programme or institutional structure, this document only can give a glimpse of its status at one point in time, as it evolves to provide more effective environmental information for decision-making on sustainability. Any comments, modifications or corrections should be sent to Mr. Arthur Dahl, Coordinator, UN System-wide Earthwatch, UNEP, C.P. 356, CH-1219 Chtelaine, Geneva, Switzerland; Tel: +41 22 979-9207; Fax: +41 22 797-3471; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. SUMMARY DESCRIPTION OF UN SYSTEM-WIDE EARTHWATCH The first inter-agency Earthwatch Working Party (Geneva, 1-2 June 1994) agreed on the following mission statement, terms of reference, and initial activities for the revitalized Earthwatch: The mission of the UN system-wide Earthwatch is to coordinate, harmonize and integrate observing, assessment and reporting activities across the UN system in order to provide environmental and appropriate socio-economic information for national and international decision-making on sustainable development and for early warning of emerging problems requiring international action. This should include timely information on the pressures on, status of and trends in key global resources, variables and processes in both natural and human systems and on the response to problems in these areas. The terms of reference of the UN system-wide Earthwatch are to: a) facilitate access to information on on-going and planned environmental activities, and to information held by each part of the system; b) identify possibilities for collaboration and mutual reinforcement among agency observation and assessment programmes and reports, and with outside partners including governments, the scientific community, NGOs and the private sector; c) promote and monitor capacity-building for data collection, assessment and reporting; d) improve and obtain international agreement on the harmonization and quality control of data and the standardization of methodologies to ensure reliable and comparable information on the environment at the national and international levels; e) facilitate the wider use of information and assessments from each partner beyond its own constituency in national and international decision-making processes; f) coordinate joint reporting on broad interdisciplinary issues such as the global state of the environment and sustainable development; g) identify priorities for international action; h) establish joint procedures to identify the need for early warnings of emerging environmental problems and to bring such warnings to the attention of the international community; i) share experience in applying new technologies and in increasing the impact of environmental and sustainable development information and reports; j) assist in increasing support for observing, assessment, reporting and capacity-building activities across the whole UN system and its programme countries; k) demonstrate the ability of the United Nations to organize coherent plans for activities responding to system-wide mandates such as Agenda 21. Mechanisms for Earthwatch coordination The Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development named UNEP as Task Manager for Earthwatch, reinforcing the coordinating and catalytic role that UNEP has played in Earthwatch since its founding. In order to provide a continuing mechanism for inter-agency liaison and coordination to implement the system-wide Earthwatch, UNEP convened an inter-agency Earthwatch Working Party of focal points in all the cooperating organizations, following the successful pattern of the working parties in the UNCED preparatory process. The working party first met on 1-2 June 1994, and agreed to continue as a coordinating mechanism to meet at least once yearly to maintain momentum in the implementation of Earthwatch, supplemented by electronic networking. A second meeting was held on 22-23 March 1995. The UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination office established by UNEP in Geneva provides a central point of contact and liaison. Specific activities will be implemented by ad hoc interagency technical groups or existing structures within the system as appropriate. The aim is to maintain flexible informal arrangements able to respond dynamically to the need for increasing coordination and collaboration without creating undue bureaucracy or excessive burdens on already overstretched organizations. In addition to the many inter-agency activities and programmes and organizational contributions to Earthwatch listed later in this programme summary, there are some specific actions being undertaken to strengthen the system-wide Earthwatch. A coordinated effort is planned to issue the key results of Earthwatch as policy-oriented summaries for decision-makers. An Earthwatch site is also being established on the World Wide Web to facilitate electronic access to Earthwatch information and pertinent data held by all parts of the UN system. LEGISLATIVE MANDATE The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972) adopted an Action Plan of three main components, of which one was the global environmental assessment programme (Earthwatch) which grouped various recommendations under the functions of evaluation and review, research, monitoring, and information exchange. In 1989, General Assembly resolution 44/224 recognized the need "to strengthen international cooperation in monitoring, assessing and anticipating environmental threats and rendering assistance in cases of environmental emergencies"; reaffirmed that "the United Nations system, through the United Nations General Assembly, owing to its universal character, is the appropriate forum for concerted political action on global environmental problems"; underlined "the importance of broader participation in Earthwatch, established by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and operated by the United Nations Environment Programme, in order to strengthen its capacity to make authoritative assessments, anticipate environmental degradation and issue early warnings to the international community," and requested a report to be considered during the UNCED preparatory process. The resulting report of the Secretary-General on Follow-up to General Assembly Resolution 44/224 (UNEP/GC.16/17) reviews the early legislative mandate and development of Earthwatch, so this is not repeated here. On the basis of this report, the UNEP Governing Council decided in 1991 (16/37) "that assessments are particularly needed in all those areas of concentration" identified by the Governing Council and by the General Assembly for UNCED; considered "that Earthwatch should also be able to accommodate emerging issues as and when need arises;" recommended "that, in keeping with its mandate, Earthwatch should identify global and regional environmental monitoring and assessment needs, co-ordinate and harmonize global, regional and national monitoring and assessment programmes to the extent required, prepare comprehensive assessment statements, inventories and analytical statements, give advanced warning of emerging environmental threats, advise on causal relationships of observed environmental changes, and suggest policy responses and management options where necessary;" further recommended "that Earthwatch should pay particular attention to the interface between environment and development;" and requested "the Executive Director to continue to strengthen the environmental monitoring and assessment capacities of developing countries to enable them to participate actively and more fully in Earthwatch." General Assembly resolution 46/217 of 1991 which conveyed the report to the UNCED Preparatory Committee again "stressed the need to strengthen international cooperation in the monitoring, assessment and anticipation of environmental threats." Agenda 21 contains a number of references to strengthening Earthwatch, particularly in Chapter 40: Information for Decision-making, which provides a good general framework for a renewed Earthwatch. For instance, "within the organs and organizations of the United Nations system and relevant international organizations, data-collection activities, including those of Earthwatch and World Weather Watch, need to be strengthened, especially in the areas of urban air, freshwater, land resources (including forests and rangelands), desertification, other habitats, soil degradation, biodiversity, the high seas and the upper atmosphere" [paragraph 40.8]. "Relevant international organizations should develop practical recommendations for coordinated, harmonized collection and assessment of data at the national and international levels. National and international data and information centres should set up continuous and accurate data-collection systems and make use of geographic information systems, expert systems, models and a variety of other techniques for the assessment and analysis of data" [40.9]. "At the international level, environmental assessment activities need to be strengthened and coordinated with efforts to assess development trends" [40.10]. Under institutional means, Chapter 40 states: "Institutional capacity to integrate environment and development and to develop relevant indicators is lacking at both the national and international levels. Existing institutions and programmes such as the Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS) and the Global Resource Information Database (GRID) within UNEP and different entities within the system-wide Earthwatch will need to be considerably strengthened. Earthwatch has been an essential element for environment-related data. While programmes related to development data exist in a number of agencies, there is insufficient coordination between them. The activities related to development data of agencies and institutions of the United Nations system should be more effectively coordinated, perhaps through an equivalent and complementary "Development Watch", which with the existing Earthwatch should be coordinated through an appropriate office within the United Nations to ensure the full integration of environment and development concerns [40.13]. Agenda 21 also included among the priority areas for UNEP in Chapter 38: "environmental monitoring and assessment, both through improved participation by the United Nations system agencies in the Earthwatch programme and expanded relations with private scientific and non-governmental research institutes; strengthening and making operational its early warning function" [38.22(d)], as well as "dissemination of environmental information and data to Governments and to organs, programmes and organizations of the United Nations system" [38.22(f)] and "raising the general awareness and action in the area of environmental protection through collaboration with the general public, non- governmental entities and intergovernmental institutions" [38.22(g)]. In 1993, the General Assembly again passed a resolution on "Strengthening international cooperation in the monitoring of global environmental problems" (GA48/192), which cited "the importance of participation of relevant organs, specialized agencies and other organizations of the United Nations system, within their respective mandates, in Earthwatch, in particular in its environmental monitoring programmes, and the need for early warning capabilities in those programmes", and "the need to make Earthwatch a more efficient instrument for environmental sensing and assessment of all elements influencing the global environment in order to ensure a balanced approach in serving, in particular, the needs of developing countries." It requested a report on environmental monitoring, containing proposals and recommendations within the context of Agenda 21 and a review of Earthwatch, to be prepared by UNEP in cooperation with relevant entities within the United Nations system and, where appropriate, outside the United Nations system. The present programme document is one product of the review of Earthwatch requested in this resolution. UN SYSTEM-WIDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO EARTHWATCH The following inter-agency and agency components and activities were identified during the in-depth study of Earthwatch and in the submissions to the Task Manager as making contributions to the system-wide Earthwatch. Major Inter-Agency Components of UN System-wide Earthwatch Component Participating Organizations Global Climate Observing System WMO, IOC, ICSU, UNEP (GCOS) Global Ocean Observing System IOC, ICSU, WMO, UNEP (GOOS), including: - Global Coastal Zone and Shelf IOC, UNEP, WMO, IUCN, IGBP Sea (monitoring coral reefs, mangroves, plankton community structure) - Monitoring and Assessment of IOC/FAO OSLR Marine Living Resources - Assessment and Prediction of the IOC/UNEP GIPME Health of the Ocean Global Terrestrial Observing FAO, UNEP, UNESCO, WMO, ICSU System (GTOS) Global Environment Monitoring UNEP System (GEMS) GEMS/Water (water quality) WHO, UNEP, WMO, UNESCO GEMS/Air (urban air quality) WHO, WMO, UNEP GEMS/HEALS (human exposure) WHO, UNEP GEMS/Food (food WHO, FAO, UNEP contamination) GERMON (env. radiation) WHO, UNEP Global State of Environment UNEP, ESCAP reporting Intergovernmental Panel on Climate WMO, UNEP Change (IPCC) World Climate Programme (WCP), WMO, IOC, ICSU, UNEP, ESCAP including World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), World Climate Impacts and Response Strategies Programme (WCIRP) Information Unit on Climate Change UNEP, WMO Regional Task Teams on Climate UNEP, IOC Change Impacts Working Group on Biosafety (risks UNIDO, UNEP, WHO, FAO of biotechnology applications) World Conservation Monitoring UNEP, IUCN, WWF Centre (WCMC) DHA/UNEP Environment Unit DHA, UNEP International Programme on WHO, UNEP, ILO Chemical Safety (IPCS) Interorganization Programme on WHO, UNEP, ILO, FAO, OECD, UNIDO Sound Management of Chemicals (IOPSMC) Joint Group of Experts on the IMO, FAO, UNESCO, WMO, WHO, IAEA, Scientific Aspects of Marine UN and UNEP Pollution (GESAMP) Global Investigations of Pollution IOC, UNEP in the Marine Environment (GIPME) and Marine Pollution Monitoring (MARPOLMON), including International Mussel Watch Programme Marine Environmental Studies IAEA, IOC, UNEP Laboratory (MESL) Ocean Science in relation to IOC, FAO Living Resources programme (OSLR) Housing Indicator Programme UNCHS, World Bank Joint Water Supply and Sanitation WHO, UNICEF Monitoring Programme Global Environmental Epidemiology WHO, UNEP Network (GEENET) Global Environmental Technology WHO, UNEP Network (GETNET) Global Environmental Library WHO, UNEP Network (GELNET) Health and Environment Analysis WHO, UNEP, USEPA for Decision-making (HEAD-LAMP) Environmental Health Human WHO, UNEP, UNESCO, CRE Resources Project Agromet Network FAO, WMO Soil Map of the World FAO, UNESCO Soil and Terrain (SOTER) project UNEP, International Soil Science Society, International Soil Reference and Information Centre (ISRIC), FAO Environmental Information Systems UNDP/UNSO, World Bank, UNITAR, methodology UNEP United Nations Sahelian Office UNDP, UNEP Global Network on Isotopes in IAEA, WMO Precipitation (GNIP) Major Agency Components of Earthwatch UNITED NATIONS United Nations Statistical Division (UNSTAT), Environment and Energy Statistics Branch DHA Humanitarian Early Warning System UNCHS Human Settlements Database UNCHS City Data Programme UNCTAD Trade Control Measures Information System (TCMIS) UNCTAD Trade Analysis and Information System (TRAINS) including GREENTRADE UNCTAD Trade, Environment and Commodities UNCTAD Ad Hoc Working Group on Trade, Environment and Development UNDP Integrated Programme Management System and country offices UNDP Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) UNDP Small Island Developing States Network (SIDSNET) UNDP Human Development Report office UNEP Division of Environmental Assessment, including: Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS) Global Resources Information Database (GRID) Regional Environment and Natural Resource Information Networks UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination UNEP INFOTERRA information referral system UNEP Division of Environmental Management Support, including: Oceans and Coastal Areas Programme Activity Centre and Regional Seas Programmes Biodiversity Unit Climate Unit Freshwater Unit Drylands Ecosystem and Desertification Control Programme Activity Centre Human Health and Welfare Unit Industry and Environment Programme Activity Centre International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals (IRPTC) UNEP Regional Offices United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) UN Office of Outer Space Affairs UN REGIONAL COMMISSIONS ECE Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of Long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe ECE International Cooperative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Forests ECE International Cooperative Programme on Assessment and Monitoring of Acidification of Rivers and Lakes ECE International Cooperative Programme on Effects of Air Pollution on Materials, including Historic and Cultural Monuments ECE International Cooperative Programme for Research on Evaluating Effects of Air Pollutants and Other Stresses on Agricultural Crops ECE International Cooperative Programme in Integrated Monitoring of Air Pollution Effects on Ecosystems ECE International Environmental Data Service ESCAP Assessment of State of Environment in Asia and the Pacific, Environment Section, ENRM Division ESCAP Indicators for Asia and the Pacific, Statistics Division ESCAP Quality of life in the ESCAP region, Social Development Division ESCWA Compendium of Social Statistics and Indicators ECA Environment Unit UN SPECIALIZED AGENCIES FAO Statistics Division FAO GIS Remote Sensing Centre FAO Land and Water, including Soil Resources Database, Land-use Type Database, Land Resources Database and evaluation software, Climate Database, AQUASTAT rural water resources database, Crop Resources Database, World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT), K-2 agricultural policy analysis tool, EcoZone, Africa Real-Time Environmental Monitoring and Information System (ARTEMIS), Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) FAO Forest Resources Division, including Forest Resource Assessments FAO Forest Policy and Planning Division, including production, trade and consumption of forest products FAO/FIR Fishery Resources Division (resources monitoring) FAO Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Service, including Statistical Monitoring of World Fisheries IAEA Seibersdorf Laboratory and Analytical Quality Control Service IAEA Marine Environment Laboratory IAEA PRIS database on nuclear power reactors IAEA International Nuclear Information System (INIS) IAEA Emergency Response System ICAO Statistics Programme ICAO Exhaust Emissions Data Bank ICAO Research on Atmospheric Effects of Aviation database ILO Bureau of Statistics IMF Statistics Department (macroeconomic statistics) IMF Fiscal Affairs Department (structural policies, database of environmental conditions and policies) IOC Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS) IOC Data Management, including Integrated Oceanographic Data Information Exchange (IODE) IOC Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) programme IOC Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) programme IOC: see also inter-agency activities GOOS, GIPME, OSLR, WCP UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP) UNESCO International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP) UNESCO International Mobile Early Warning System for Volcanic Eruptions (IMEWS) UNESCO International Tsunami Warning System (ITWS) World Bank Environment Department, including Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD) Indicators, Natural Capital Indicators World Bank Regional Environment Divisions World Bank Agriculture, Land Quality Indicators (LQI) World Bank Industrial Pollution Projection System (IPPS) and Decision Support System (DSS) WHO Division of Epidemiological Surveillance and Health Situation and Trend Assessment (HST), including WHO Statistical Information System (WHOSIS), Mortality Data Base WHO Division of Emergency and Humanitarian Action, Emergency Information System WHO Health-related Environmental Monitoring, including air quality monitoring (GEMS/Air), water quality monitoring (GEMS/Water), food contamination monitoring (GEMS/Food), environmental radiation monitoring (GERMON), human exposure monitoring (GEMS/HEALS) WHO Rural Environmental Health Unit, including monitoring of water supply and sanitation coverage WHO Office of Global and Integrated Environmental Health, including HEAD-LAMP, Environmental Health Information for the Management of Development Activities (EHMDAC), Global Environmental Epidemiology Network (GEENET), Global Environmental Technology Network (GETNET) and Global Environmental Library Network (GELNET) WHO Programme for the Promotion of Chemical Safety (see IPCS above), including IPCS/INTOX package for diagnosis/treatment of poisonings WMO World Weather Watch Programme WMO Global Atmosphere Watch Programme, including Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network (BAPMoN), Global Ozone Observing System (GO3OS) WMO Hydrology and Water Resources Programme, including World Hydrological Cycle Observing System (WHYCOS) WMO: see also inter-agency activities World Climate Programme, GCOS, GOOS, GTOS Some global conventions with reporting requirements contributing information for decision-making Basel Convention on the Control of the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Other Wastes and their Disposal Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping from Ships and Aircraft Convention on Biological Diversity: clearing house mechanism and information exchange Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident; Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, Montreal Protocol and London Amendment, with its Ozone Secretariat: Scientific Assessments of Ozone Depletion (UNEP, WMO, NASA, NOAA) United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: Communication and Review Process (CRP) and Climate Convention Information Exchange Programme
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Date last posted: 2 December 1999 13:22:30