United Nations

This site is maintained by UNEP/GRID-Geneva
  Last Update:
We would appreciate
your feedback


News from Earthwatch - 2002

Global Environmental Headlines

Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2002

The 2002 report on the status of the world’s coral reefs is a mix of bad news and good news, but there is strong evidence that the corner is being turned in our ability to stop reef decline, provided this continues to be supported by sufficient political will.

More information is available on: http://www.aims.gov.au/pages/research/coral-bleaching/scr2002/scr-00.html

International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in Wars and Armed Conflicts

Following a 1999 request by U.N. member states for UNEP and the U.N. Human Settlements Program to monitor the issue, Nov. 6 will now be set aside as a day to highlight the impact of armed conflict on the environment.

More information is available on: http://www.unep.org/Documents/ Default.asp?DocumentID=271&ArticleID=3162

Bishkek Global Mountain Summit

The Bishkek Global Mountain Summit is the final global event of the International Year of Mountains. It draws together the ideas and recommendations generated by previous events, from all levels and sectors of society, into proposals for concrete action.

More information is available on: http://www.globalmountainsummit.org/ home_page.html

Mountain Watch

mountain_watchThe report, the first map-based assessment of environmental change in mountain areas and the implications for sustainable development, has been compiled by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) as a contribution to the International Year of the Mountains.

More information is available on: http://www.unep-wcmc.org/information_services/ publications/MountainWatch_Bishkek /presspack/

World Food Day

This year's World Food Day theme is: Water: source of Food Security. Food fairs, field visits, exhibitions, concerts, ceremonies, seminars and radio and television broadcasts are taking place worldwide to heighten public awareness about water as a source of food security and to promote better understanding of the measures that need to be taken to ensure its future supply.

More information is available on: http://www.fao.org/wfd/index_en.asp

International Day for Disaster Reduction

The International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction was celebrated on 9 October with initiatives highlighting the way ahead on how to reduce risk, benefiting from risk mapping, education and mountain development, as a contribution to the International Year of Mountains.

More information is available on: http://www.unisdr.org/

World Habitat Day

"City to City Cooperation" is the theme for this year's World Habitat Day (WHD). This year the global observances will be held in Brussels, Belgium, and will be jointly hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Belgium and the European Commission.

More information is available on: http://www.unhabitat.org/whd/2002/default.asp

Annual Clean Up the World Weekend

ozoneVolunteers work together in their own communities to carry out local clean-up activities, uniting with like-minded community groups throughout the globe in a massive worldwide clean-up of the environment.

More information is available on: http://www.unep.org/cleanup/

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

ozoneThis commemoration (16th September 2002) around the world offers an opportunity to focus attention and action at the global, regional and national levels on the protection of the ozone layer.

More information is available on: http://www.unep.org/ ozone/ozone_day2002/

Sustainable Development Summit

The World Summit on Sustainable Development (also known as Rio + 10), gathering from 26 August - 4 September 2002in Johannesburg, South Africa, will involve world governments, concerned citizens, United Nations agencies, multilateral financial institutions and other major actors to assess global change since the historic United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), of 1992.

Official website: http://www.johannesburgsummit.org/;
UNCED website: http://www.earthsummit2002.org/
Portal in French: http://www.sommetjohannesburg.org/.

The European Regional Assessment Report "Assessment of Progress in Sustainable Development since Rio 1992 for Member States of the UNECE"is available online in pdf format.
The Ministerial Statement for the World Summit on Sustainable Development
is available in pdf format.
WEHAB Framework Papers
is available online in pdf format.
Key Outcomes of the Summit .
Plan of implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development

The State of Food and Agriculture

sofia02This annual report provides basic information on the agricultural situation at the global and regional level. Included in the issue are a CD-ROM containing time series data for 150 countries, country groups, and regions in English, French, and Spanish, together with FAOSTAT TS software for easy access and use.

Global Challenge, Global Opportunity

crittrends If current patterns of development continue, nearly half of the world's people will suffer from water shortages within the next 25 years, the use of fossil fuels, along with greenhouse gas emissions, will grow, and the world's forests will continue to disappear, according to a new United Nations report issued on 13 August 2002 by the Secretariat for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development.

With projections indicating that the world's population will grow by about two billion people by 2025, the new report, Global Challenge, Global Opportunity, underscores the need for greatly increased efforts to support sustainable development to better manage global resources in a rapidly changing world.

The report can be downloaded in pdf format from the Johannesburg Summit website at: http://www.johannesburgsummit.org/html/ documents/summit_docs/criticaltrends_1408.pdf (3.92 Mb)

North America Assessment

nacoverNew report "North America's Environment: A Thirty–Year State of the Environment and Policy Retrospective" released on 13 August 2002.
Focusing on UNEP's North American region, comprised of Canada and the United States, this report provides an integrated analysis of the state of resource assests and 30–year trends in nine major themes: atmosphere, biodiversity, coastal and marine areas, disasters, freshwater, forests, human health and the environment, land, and urban areas.

More information can be found on the North American node of UNEP's Global Resource Information Database website at: http://www.na.unep.net/publications/ NA/geo-na.php3

World Biodiversity Atlas

WABiodivThe World Atlas of Biodiversity, the first map-based view of global biodiversity, was launched by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the University of California Press, at the Chelsea Physic Garden, London on 1st August 2002. It is the best current synthesis of the latest research and analysis by UNEP-WCMC and the conservation community worldwide - providing a comprehensive and accessible view of key global issues in biodiversity.

New findings, which include maps showing global variation in family level diversity of flowering plants, freshwater fishes and land vertebrates, provide an indication of areas of special value.

More information can be found on the WCMC website at:
http://www.unep-wcmc.org/information_services/ publications/biodiversityatlas/presspack/

African Environment Outlook

AEOSharp increases in air and water pollution, land degradation, droughts and wildlife losses are facing Africa unless urgent action is taken to deliver environmentally-friendly development for its citizens, a report released on July 2002 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says.

The African Environment Outlook is available at http://www.unep.org/aeo or http://www.grida.no/aeo or at Earthprint http://www.earthprint.com

See UNEP Press release: The State Of Africa's Environment Chronicled In Ground-breaking Report: Hard Facts Tough Choices

World Day to Combat Desertification

As part of its campaign to tackle global environmental deterioration in particular by combatting the degradation of drylands -- which cover up to one quarter of the world's land surface -- the United Nations General Assembly has designated 17 June as "World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought". Celebrated world-wide, this day marks the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. 17 June 2002 is the 8th World Day to Combat Desertification to be celebrated.

In 2002, it was celebrated in Osnabrueck, Germany, at the kind invitation of the city of Osnabrueck. This Year theme was “Land Degradation”.

UNCCD page for this event: http://www.unccd.int/publicinfo/ june17/osnabrueck.php
Press Release: Executive Secretary Calls for Financial Commitment for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

World Environment Day

The World Environment Day, commemorated each year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.

The theme Give Earth a Chance calls on each and every one of us to contribute to the healing of the ailing planet. In spite of considerable efforts and significant achievements, many of the problems, which plagued the Earth during the 20th Century, still linger.

The main international celebrations of the World Environment Day will be held in the City of Shenzhen and UNEP is honoured that the People's Republic of China will be hosting this important United Nations day.

More information is available from: http://www.unep.org/wed/2002/WED2002/


The UN Atlas of the Oceans, launched in the occasion of the 2002 World Environment Day, is an Internet portal (http://www.oceansatlas.org) providing information relevant to the sustainable development of the oceans. It is designed for policy-makers who need to become familiar with ocean issues and for scientists, students and resource managers who need access to databases and approaches to sustainability.

The UN Atlas supports Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, the blueprint for the sustainable development of oceans adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Atlas is funded by the United Nations Foundation. In addition, six UN agencies (FAO, IAEA, IMO, UNEP, WMO, UNESCO/IOC) have committed financial resources to the project, joined by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD). Development has been under the lead of the FAO Fisheries Department with additional participation from national agencies.

See also agencies press releases:
UNEP: First Comprehensive "real-time" Way To Observe State Of World's Oceans
FAO: UN Oceans Atlas provides first comprehensive real-time tool to observe state of world's oceans
IMO: United Nations Atlas of the Oceans is launched
UNESCO: UNESCO hosts Launch of first on-line interactive Atlas of the Oceans

Global Assessment

UNEP released new Global Environment Outlook (GEO-3) report in May 2002. The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series are the flagship publications of UNEP. They present comprehensive and authoritative reviews and analyses of worldwide environmental conditions and trends and the policies and policy instruments available to address them.

GEO-3 is published 10 years after the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992 and in time for its successor, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. It sets an action-oriented environmental agenda for the future.

Continuing the global and regional focus of the series, it complements the detailed assessment of the state of the global environment set out in GEO-2000. GEO-3 examines environmental trends over the past 30 years to provide an integrated explanation of the developments that have occurred. It not only examines the state of the environment over that period, but also the full range of social, economic, political and cultural drivers that have brought about change. Highlighting human vulnerability to environmental deterioration, it assesses effects of the spectrum of policy measures adopted.

Sustainable Development

There is a growing gap between the efforts of business and industry to
reduce their impact on the environment and the worsening state of the planet, UNEP reveals in a new report published the 15 May 2002.

This gap, says UNEP, is due to the fact that in most industry sectors, only a small number of companies are actively striving for sustainability, i.e. actively integrating social and environmental factors into business decisions. And, secondly, because improvements are being overtaken by economic growth and increasing demand for goods and services: a phenomenon known as the “rebound effect.”

The new findings appear in the UNEP overview report 10 years after Rio: the UNEP assessment. This overview report assesses progress todate by industry on sustainability issues. It draws on the 22 global sustainability reports written by different industry sectors ranging from accounting and advertising to waste and water management. This collection of reports is known as the Industry as a Partner for Sustainable Development series.

Children Health

UNICEF, UNEP and WHO report

Every day 5,500 children die from diseases caused by consuming water and food polluted with bacteria, according to a new study released by three United Nations agencies, the 9 May 2002, as part of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children. The report, Children in the New Millennium: Environmental Impact on Health, shows that children are the greatest victims of environmental degradation.

Copies of the book can be ordered from the UNEP Publications Web site -- see http://www.earthprint.com.

EEA and WHO report

On the occasion of the opening of Green Week 2002 by Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, WHO and the European Environment Agency (EEA) jointly launched the monograph "Children’s health and environment: a review of evidence" in Copenhagen and Brussels, the 15 April 2002.

Up to 40% of the global burden of disease attributable to environmental factors is estimated to fall on children under the age of 5 years. As developing organisms, children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of environmental pollution.

The report is available online in pdf format.

Depleted Uranium Assessment

A new study of six sites in Serbia and Montenegro that were struck by depleted uranium munitions during the 1999 Kosovo conflict confirms the presence at five sites of widespread, but low-level, DU contamination, UNEP announced on 27 March 2002.

The UNEP study concludes that the DU sites studied do not present immediate radioactive or toxic risks for the environment or human health. These findings are consistent with those of UNEP's 2001 DU study in Kosovo. Together, the two studies cover the entire geographical area affected by DU munitions during the Kosovo conflict.

World Water Day

World Water Day grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janiero. Recognizing the objectives set out in Chapter 18 (Freshwater Resources) of the Agenda 21 document, the UN General Assembly declared that March 22 of each year would be observed as a World Day for Water. Further, the General Assembly called upon States to devote this day to concrete activities related to the conservation and development of water resources in their national context, and for the UN to assist countries in organizing their activities.

It was decided that each World Water Day would focus on a particular theme relating to the conservation of water resources and that one UN agency would be selected to lead the UN system in its activities. The theme for March 22, 2002 is Water and Development, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the lead UN agency.

See also the:
UN-Habitat press release: Water Crisis in African Cities

First Dugong Status Report

IUCN's Director General, Achim Steiner, and Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a joint publication, Dugong: Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories, during the seventh special session of UNEP's Governing Council in Columbia.
The report is published in the UNEP/DEWA Report Series February 2002.

International Year of Mountains

The UN General Assembly declared the year 2002 as the International Year of the Mountains (IYM). Throughout the year, people all over the world will participate in events to celebrate mountains and discuss ways to promote their conservation and sustainable development.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held its official launch of the International Year of Mountains at its Rome headquarters on 15 February.

The aim of the IYM is to ensure the well-being of mountain and lowland communities by promoting the conservation and sustainable development of mountain regions. FAO, the lead agency for the IYM, is working closely with UN and other organizations to make sure the broadest possible range of expertise is focused on reaching the goals of sustainable mountain development.

In response to many requests for assistance, UNEP has set-up a Mountain Programme coordinated by UNEP's World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).

More details on: http://www.mountains2002.org/

Case Studies on Water Conservation in the Mediterranean Region

Competition for scarce water resources will increase in the Mediterranean basin in the coming decades and will seriously aggravate the existing shortage of water, according to a new study published in February 2002 by the International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID). IPTRID is hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Report available from: http://www.fao.org/iptrid/kn_syn_04/kn_syn_04.htm


International Year of Ecotourism

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism (IYE).

Ecotourism activities have been expanding rapidly over the past two decades worldwide and further growth is expected in the future. Recognizing its global importance, the United Nations designated the year 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism. The World Tourism Organisation (WTO) and UNEP have joined forces to take the leading role in the preparation and co-ordination of activities to be undertaken at the international level.

The IYE offers an opportunity to review ecotourism experiences worldwide, in order to consolidate tools and institutional frameworks that ensure its sustainable development in the future. This means maximizing the economic, environmental and social benefits from ecotourism, while avoiding its past shortcomings and negative impacts.
More information can be found on the UNEP Tourism Programme website and on the WTO website.


Earthwatch Activities

Earthwatch Working Party

The seventh meeting of the Earthwatch Working Party was be held at the UNEP offices in Geneva on Monday 10 December and Tuesday 11 December 2001. The Meeting documents are available online.



News Index



UNEP/DEWA/Earthwatch 1996-2003