United Nations System-Wide
Earthwatch Working Party 6
Geneva, 13-14 March 2000

Extract from the Report of the GEO-3 Start-up Meeting
15-19 November 1999, Nairobi, Kenya

8 March 2000
Agenda Item 8

Redlines of the GEO series:

These characterize the GEO report series:
- Underpinned by sound data, information and science
- DPSIR framework
- Integrated
- SOE and policy
- Global and regional perspectives
- Multi-stakeholder perspectives
- Identifying priority issues
- Forward-looking emerging issues and early warning
- Policy relevant
- Oriented towards sustainable development
- Action oriented - addressing root causes
- Readable

Overall Aim of GEO-3:

Within the context of sustainable development, to integrate and mainstream environmental issues in the knowledge and decision-making of public, private and civil sectors of society and to stimulate action by providing realistic options for improving the state of the global environment.

The GEO-3 Approach:

The following general objectives will guide the production of GEO-3 and shape the product(s):
- Engaging a wider range of clients and stakeholders in the production process
- Providing input to Earth Summit 2002 and to other relevant fora and processes
- Diversifying products to target a range of user groups
- Providing a constructive information basis and global context for negotiations and decision making
- Using best available information and making best use of secondary data
- Placing greater emphasis on the social and economic implications of environmental policy actions and options
- Providing clear regional and sub-regional differentiation of global issues
- Providing compelling information on the scale of environmental change
- Presenting doable options for action

Dimensions of the GEO-3 report:

- Time scale: 1972 to 2032
- Geographical scale: global to sub-regional

Proposed Table of Contents of the GEO-3 report:

1. Introduction on Context and Process:

Along the lines of GEO-2000, but more extensive, since the process is becoming broader, more participatory and therefore complicated. An opportunity to place GEO in the context of other global assessment and reporting processes.

2. SOE and Policy Retrospective 1972-2002:

A global overview and integrated analysis of the state and trends in major environmental sectors over the past 30 years. Major emphasis will be placed on providing an integrated explanation of trends by identifying their root causes and drivers. The relationships between policy and environment will be analyzed to show how policy can impact on environment and how the environment can drive policy, both retrospectively and proactively.

For structural and presentational clarity, sectoral areas will be used as the entry points for assessment. However, the cross-cutting, integrative nature of environmental issues will be emphasized at every opportunity, with integrated analysis of themes and policy impacts where appropriate and emphasis on geographic and sectoral interlinkages.

The sectoral breakdown will include the seven universal themes of GEO-2000 (land, forests, biodiversity, freshwater, marine and coastal areas, atmosphere and urban areas) as well as cross-cutting global issues (natural disasters, human health, chemicals, nitrogen).

GEO-2000 will be used as the main source for SOE information, up-dated and supplemented where required.

Description and analysis will be at global level, but will include regional and sub-regional differentiation. The analysis will focus on priority issues, with assessment of vulnerability, hot spots and possible emerging issues.

The analysis of environmental trends will take into consideration the widest possible range of social, economic, political and cultural drivers and root causes demographics, production and consumption, poverty, urbanization, industrialization, governance, conflict, globalization of trade, finance and information, and others.

Special focus will be placed on the impacts of national, regional and global policies, including MEAs. The assessment will take into consideration not only environmental policy but also the impacts of general policies on environmental issues.

3. Outlook 2002-2032:

Within a 2002-2032 time frame, a forward-looking, scenario-based, integrated analysis linked to the major issues identified in the retrospective section and contrasting conventional and sustainable paths. The initial global-level analysis will be extended to regions and sub-regions, thereby identifying the potential areas of vulnerability and hot spots of the future. A number of alternative policy studies, focusing on priority issues in the regions and sub-regions, will compare the outcomes of a range of possible policy measures, revealing best options.

The global scenarios are still to be selected.

Global megatrends (demographics, consumption, industrialization - including growth of the leisure society and tourism, etc) will be used as the entry points for the scenario work. Expected trends in the environment (impacts on the universal and global issues assessed in section 2 as well as priority issues identified by the unfolding process leading to the 2002 Earth Summit) will be developed for the next 30 years, quantitatively wherever possible.

The alternative policy studies will follow the general, 6-step methodology developed for GEO-2000. As far as possible, the studies will be model-based and incorporate quantitative data and analysis.

4. Synthesis and action:

This section will be worked out in more detail during the first GEO-3 production meeting in early April 2000. It is likely to include:

- An evaluation of whether policy responses over the last 30 years are appropriate for the next 30
- Doable, positive policy and action items, linked to the conclusions of all earlier sections ( the retrospective policy analysis, the global/regional scenario findings and the future policy options studies) and targeted at key audiences (various categories and levels of decision-makers and actors)
- Conditions and capacities required for successful application of recommended policies and actions
- Policy-relevant indicators which can be used to monitor future PSIR changes related to the environment at global, regional, national and local levels.

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