Short for United Nations Environment Program according to Abbreviationfinder, UNEP is a Program of the United Nations that coordinates activities related to the environment, assisting countries in implementing appropriate environmental policies and to promote sustainable development. It is also known as PNUE, corresponding to its name in French, Program des Nations Unies pour l’Environment; and also by the acronym UNEP, from the English United Nations Environment Program. It is based in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.
Created in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly in response to the recommendations of the UN Conference on Human Environment, held in Stockholm that same year. This Program was established to achieve a series of interdisciplinary objectives in the field of the environment, a field that in the early 1970s began to attract more and more international interest. Its governing body is the Board of Directors, currently made up of 58 countries.
In recent years, UNEP has entered a process of adapting its mandate to the new and broader responsibilities given to the organization under Agenda 21.
In 1975, 16 Mediterranean countries and the EEC adopted the Action Plan for the Protection and Development of the Mediterranean Basin (MAP), the first regional agreement under the auspices of UNEP. As the legal framework for MAP, in 1976 the Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) and its first two protocols were adopted.
At the Barcelona conference in 1995, the Convention was amended and renamed the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean. In addition, existing protocols were reviewed and a new MAP (Barcelona Resolution on the environment and sustainable development in the Mediterranean basin) was adopted.
The Barcelona Convention is a regional convention for the prevention and reduction of pollution from ships, aircraft and land sources to the Mediterranean Sea, including spills, leaks and discharges. The Convention, its protocols and the MAP are part of the UNEP Regional Seas Program.
Since its establishment, its mission has been to promote international cooperation in environmental matters; coordinate the development of environmental activities within the UN system; analyze the state of the world environment to inform and warn of imminent and future threats to it; evaluate the influence of both international and national environmental policies on the situation of the least developed countries; promote scientific cooperation in the field of the environment; advise governments and institutions to incorporate the environmental issue into their policies, and promote the development of international law on the environment as well as the application of its norms (DANIDA, 1996: 51).
It plays a leading role in promoting international and regional conventions on a wide variety of topics, such as transportation and disposal of hazardous waste, combating desertification, conserving wildlife, protecting the ozone layer, the safety of biotechnological experiments, the protection of the seas against pollution, climate change and the protection of biological diversity. To monitor these and other issues that concern its mandate, it has developed the Earthwatch program, a global environmental monitoring system for the prevention of environmental crises.
It participates in the Environmental Management Group and in the United Nations Development Group (thematic mechanisms of cooperation between agencies) and in scientific advisory groups such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Ecosystem Conservation Group, the Committee United Nations Scientist on the Effects of Atomic Radiation or the World Conservation Monitoring Center.
- Governing Council / Global Ministerial Forum on the Environment: it is the main body of UNEP and is made up of 58 members elected by the UN General Assembly for 4-year terms. The Council was established in accordance with General Assembly Resolution 2997 (XXVII) of December 15, 1972, and is accountable to the Assembly through the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
- Executive Office / Secretariat: The current Executive Director, Achim Steiner, was elected in 2006 by the UN General Assembly, renewing his mandate in 2010. As Executive Director of UNEP, he also chairs the Environmental Management Group. Previously, he served as Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In addition, UNEP has a Committee of Permanent Representatives as a subsidiary body.
On the other hand, it has Regional Offices for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Western Asia, and with liaison offices in Addis Ababa, Beijing, Brasilia, Brussels, Cairo, Moscow, New York and Vienna.