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7th Earthwatch Working Party


(Also available in word format ewwp7geo.doc - 85 Kb)

As the international community prepares for the World Summit on Sustainable Development next September, work on the third Global Environment Outlook (GEO) - the flagship report on state of the global environment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - is far advanced with many of the chapters already complete and revision and editing underway.

The GEO-3 report, which is being prepared by UNEP's Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) and its network of 35 collaborating centres (CCs) and partners in different parts of the world - will provide crucial input to the Rio +10 preparatory process.

"GEO-3 will be published in early 2002 - 10 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and 30 years after the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972," says DEWA Director Timothy Foresman.

He adds: "GEO-3 will help set in a hopeful and positive tone an action-oriented environmental agenda at the Earth Summit in 2002 and other international meetings on global and regional trends as it delivers relevant and timely information to the world's leaders and environment ministers."

The GEO-3 report will place major emphasis on providing an integrated explanation of trends by identifying their root causes and drivers within a retrospective period between 1972-2002. It will also analyse the relationships between policy and environment to show how policy can impact on environment and how the environment can drive policy. An evaluation will be made of whether policy responses over the past 30 years are appropriate for the next 30 years.

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, with integrated analysis of themes and policy impacts where appropriate and emphasis on geographical and sectoral interlinkages.

Description and analysis while primarily targeted at global and regional levels will also include sub-regional differentiation where appropriate. The analysis will focus on priority issues, with assessment of vulnerability, hot spots and 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, information and others.

GEO-3 Contents
Executive summary and prelims

Stockholm to Rio+10: environment and socio-economic development
GEO-2000 to GEO-3: two critical years

From environmental concerns to integrated assessment
Socioeconomic, Atmosphere, Land, Forests, Freshwater, Coastal and marine areas,
Biodiversity, Urban areas, Environmental disasters
Global overview, integrated assessments for Africa, Asia and the Pacific,
Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, West Asia, Polar regions

Definitions and concepts
Anatomy of human vulnerability
Major constraints to meeting basic human needs

4. OUTLOOK 2002-2032
Visualizing the future
Driving forces
Scenarios narratives
Regional environmental implications
Discussion and synthesis

Environment and development legacy
State of the environment
Human security
Policy performance
Call for action
Options for sustainability

Acronyms and abbreviations, Collaborating Centres, contributors, index

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

Using a 2002-2032 time frame for the outlook chapter, which will be based on four scenarios, GEO-3 will contain a forward-looking and 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, identifying potential areas of vulnerability and hot spots of the future. Forecasted trends in the environment will be developed for the next 30 years, quantitatively wherever possible.

The final section of GEO-3 will include positive policy and action items, linked to the conclusions of the earlier sections and targeted at different categories and levels of decision-makers and actors. It will elaborate the conditions and capacities required for successful application of policies and actions.

GEO-3, which will be published in hard copy as well as on the Internet, will be distributed to policymakers and world leaders throughout the world. Hard copies will be available on a commercial basis to other stakeholders, but will be accessible to all citizens free of charge on the Internet.

GEO-3 will be one of several critical policy products of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) Project launched by UNEP in 1995. The project has two components:
· A global environmental assessment process that is cross-sectoral, participatory and consultative. It incorporates regional views and builds consensus on priority issues and actions through dialogue among policy-makers and scientists at regional and global levels. It also aims to strengthen environmental assessment capacity in the regions through training and 'learning-by-doing'.
· GEO outputs, in printed and electronic formats, including the GEO Report series. This series makes periodic reviews of the state of the world's environment, and provides guidance for decision-making processes such as the formulation of environmental policies, action planning and resource allocation. Other outputs include technical reports, a Web site and a publication for young people (GEO for Youth). Another major output of GEO is the GEO Data Portal, which as been developed to support integrated environmental assessment. The GEO Data Portal aims to provide CCs, UNEP Regional Offices and UNEP/GEO Management with easy access - via the Internet - with a common and consistent set of major global and regional core data sets from a wide variety of recognized sources and covering a broad range of themes.

A coordinated global network of Collaborating Centres is the core of the GEO process. These centres have played an increasingly important role in preparing GEO reports. They are now responsible for almost all the regional inputs, combining top-down integrated assessment with bottom-up environmental reporting. A number of Associated Centres also participate, providing specialized expertise. Working groups provide advice and support to the GEO process, helping to coordinate the work of the Collaborating Centres to make their outputs as comparable as possible.

Other United Nations agencies contribute to the GEO Process through the United Nations System-wide Earthwatch, coordinated by UNEP. In particular, they provide substantive data and information on the many environmentally-related issues that fall under their individual mandates; they also help review drafts. Regional consultations and other mechanisms to promote dialogue between scientists and policy-makers are an essential element of the GEO process.

Interest in GEO reports has necessitated the second report - GEO-2000 - being published in an unprecedented six UN languages; Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. A total of about 15 000 copies have been printed in these languages, and it is expected that interest in GEO-3 will surpass this figure.

The GEO-2000 is available on the Internet at the following sites:
Japan: http:/www-cger.nies.go.jp/geo2000/
Kenya: http://www.unep.org/geo2000/
Mexico: http:/www.rolac.unep.mx/geo2000/
Norway: http:/www.grida.no/geo2000/
Switzerland: http:/www.grid.unep.ch/geo2000/
United States: http://grid2.cr.usgs.gov/geo2000/

For further information on GEO, contact the Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA) at the United Nations Environment Programme:
Email: geo@unep.org
Web sites:




7th Working Party


UNEP/DEWA/Earthwatch 1996-2003