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Forests are fundamental

The theme for this year’s International Day of Forests on 21 March is “Forests and Energy”.

Forest-based energy sources such as biomass, wood and charcoal are well-known sources of energy. In many African countries charcoal and firewood represent more than 80 per cent of energy consumption. But new forms of energy are also being derived from forests.

Smarter use of resources can add $2 trillion annually to global economy

March 16, 2017 – Smarter and more efficient use of the world’s natural resources today means the next generation will reap annual economic benefits of $2 trillion by 2050, while offsetting the costs of ambitious climate change action, new research released today by the International Resource Panel shows.

Global airline and celebrities join UN campaign to help end wildlife crime on World Wildlife Day

March 3, 2017 – One of Africa’s largest airlines and five celebrities from around the globe have joined forces with UN Environment on World Wildlife Day to help put an end to the illicit international trade in wildlife driving myriad species to the brink of extinction.

The illegal trade in wildlife is lining the pockets of criminal networks with an estimated $23 billion annually: putting the trade in the same league as the trafficking of drugs, arms and humans.  

This World Wildlife Day, let’s celebrate the power of youth voices!

World Wildlife Day on 3 March 2017 is a chance for young people to make their voices heard on the kind of world they want, and need, to inherit from their parents.

Humans are forever learning about nature and from nature. Perhaps that’s because they are part of nature and depend on nature’s ecosystems for their survival.

Look after nature, so it can look after you

Whether an afternoon at the beach, an exhilarating weekend in the mountains or just a walk in the park after a hard day, millions of people around the world know how getting out into more natural surroundings makes you feel better.

Economist Kenneth Arrow still influences UN Environment’s work

Prof Kenneth Joseph Arrow, who died on 21 February at the age of 95, was a well-known economist and polymath. He was the youngest economist to win the Nobel Prize in 1972, together with John Hicks.

Arrow‘s doctoral thesis published in 1951 changed the character and outlook of economics.

His work on voting behaviour, social choice theory, information economics, risk and uncertainty greatly influenced thinking on climate change and natural capital  measurement.

UN Declares War on Ocean Plastic

February 23, 2017 – UN Environment launched today an unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter: microplastics in cosmetics and the excessive, wasteful usage of single-use plastic by the year 2022.

Top marks for ecosystems course

The first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to focus on the ecosystem approach and systems thinking, which ran for several months at the end of 2016, was a great success, according to UN Environment’s final evaluation report.

We Must Raise our Voices to Save the Pangolin

Ian Somerhalder, UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador

What is a pangolin? You probably have no idea, and I can understand why. This small mammal is shy and only moves around at night. Hardly a zoo has been able to keep one alive. And yet it sits above the elephant and rhino as the most illegally trafficked animal in the world.

Live-tracking progress towards global goals now possible thanks to a cutting-edge UN knowledge platform

February 16, 2017 – Environment Live, the dynamic UN knowledge platform, designed to collect, process and share the world's best environmental science and research, has introduced new tools to review progress towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Built and maintained by UN Environment, the platform provides real-time open data access to policy makers and the general public, using distributed networks, cloud computing, big data and improved search functions.



#WildForLife campaign to ramp up in solidarity with governments against wildlife trafficking

Governments at the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade committed to specific actions that support wiping out poaching and wildlife trafficking, recognising this as crucial to achieving sustainable, inclusive development by 2030. Read full story.



American Youth to bring US Federal Government to Trial in Ground-breaking Climate Change Lawsuit

November 16, 2016 - In 2015 youth between the ages of 8 and 19 filed a constitutional climate change case against the Federal Government of the United States of America at the United States District Court for the District of Oregon. In Juliana v United States of America the youth are challenging the Federal Government of the USA for failure to take action against the burning of fossil fuels, which destabilizes the climate system and puts its future at risk.

New peatland coalition targets cutting climate change, saving thousands of lives

November 17, 2016 - A new global initiative, launched today at the climate meeting in Marrakech, aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save thousands of lives by protecting peatlands - the world's largest terrestrial organic soil carbon stock.

The Global Peatlands Initiative will mobilize governments, international organizations and academia in a targeted effort to protect peatlands, which contain almost 100 times more carbon than tropical forests.

Top UN official: Environmental protection in war more urgent than ever

November 3, 2016 – In a year dominated by the tragedy of war, there is no more urgent time to address the need to protect the environment in armed conflicts, Ambassador Marie G. Jacobsson said today at the Fourth Annual Al-Moumin Lecture on Environmental Peacebuilding.

World must urgently up action to cut a further 25% from predicted 2030 emissions, says UN Environment report

London, November 3, 2016 - The world must urgently and dramatically increase its ambition to cut roughly a further quarter off predicted 2030 global greenhouse emissions and have any chance of minimizing dangerous climate change, UN Environment said today as it released its annual Emissions Gap report.

Mosul battle brings environmental damage, with serious impacts on health, prospects of recovery

October 27, 2016 - Civilians in Northern Iraq are falling victim to additional suffering - including near suffocation and respiratory illnesses - due to what appears to be a scorched-earth policy employed by retreating ISIL militants following the launch of a major military offensive to retake the city of Mosul.

South China Sea countries to cooperate on integrating fisheries and marine ecosystem management

Bangkok, November 1, 2016 - Countries bordering the South China Sea have embarked on a collaborative initiative to safeguard almost two million hectares (ha) of the region’s most critical marine and coastal ecosystems for fish production, nutritional security and livelihoods.

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation and UN Environment Launch Video Contest to Bring Attention to Food Waste

October 28, 2016 - Forgotten in the fridge or scraped off a plate. Thrown in the garbage. Left to rot. Sent to a landfill.

Millions of consumers repeat this sequence of actions without a second thought and send mountains of uneaten food to landfills. In North America, on average, one-third of all food is wasted. This is not only a shocking waste of resources, but also leads to the creation of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that warms the planet much faster than carbon dioxide.

The Secretary-General's Message on United Nations Day

October 24, 2016 -  This year’s observance of United Nations Day occurs at a time of transition for the world and for the United Nations. 

Humanity has entered the era of sustainability – with a global commitment to fulfil the great promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In this, the Organization’s 71st year, we have 17 goals to propel us towards a better future for all on a healthy planet. 

Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on United Nations Day

Ottawa, October 24, 2016 - The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on United Nations Day:

“When I addressed the United Nations (UN) General Assembly for the first time as Prime Minister this past September, I made Canada’s position clear: the world needs to focus on what brings us together and not what divides us.



Paris, 9 December 2015 – Climate Bonds and UNEP Inquiry have tonight launched Scaling Green Bond Markets - Guide for the Public Sector during a COP21 Side Event at Shearman & Sterling Paris office.

Paris, 8 December 2015 – Members of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) committed today to accelerate ambitious action to reduce short-lived climate pollutants within the next five years.


Paris, 8 December 2015 - Ministers and senior representatives from the industry, civil society and international organizations called today for a swift move to zero-emission vehicles as a key component of a future global climate change strategy.

Paris, 6 December, 2015 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner and Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende today signed a Programme Cooperation Agreement (PCA) that will see Norway provide financial support to UNEP worth over $10 million.

On the margins of COP21, Mr. Steiner met with Børge Brende at the Norwegian Embassy in Paris to sign the agreement and discuss the process of negotiations at the climate conference.

Paris, 7 December 2015 - Initial analysis of almost 6,000 projects targeting renewable energy and energy efficiency in developing countries has revealed that the projects could reduce CO2 emissions by about 1.7 gigatons a year by 2020.

Paris, 7 December 2015 - Two of the world's biggest institutional investors-Allianz and ABP-today joined the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition (PDC), a group of investors committed to supporting the fight against climate change.

With Allianz and ABP, the PDC now convenes 25 investors overseeing the gradual decarbonization of a total of USD 600 billion in Assets under Management (AUM), dramatically surpassing the PDC's target of USD 100 billion.

Paris, 7 December 2015 - The first man to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the world and the visionary behind the only airplane capable of flying day and night without a drop of fuel, Switzerland's Bertrand Piccard was designated today the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Goodwill Ambassador.

Paris, 4 December 2015 - Governments and industry leaders in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) today committed to further essential advances in reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) that have a global warming potential many times that of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

New York/Geneva, 24 November 2015 – More than half a billion children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160 million in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed to the impacts of climate change, UNICEF said in a report released ahead of the 21st United Nations climate change conference, known as COP21.

4 December 2015 - The United Nations emitted over 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2014 - the same as the annual CO2 emissions from 191,019 US homes or from consuming 4,868,772 barrels of oil, according to the organization's annual reporting of its greenhouse gas emissions.


2014 News

Fast-Tracking Elimination of Production of Remaining Ozone-Depleting Substances Could Speed Up Ozone Layer Recovery by 11 Years

Nairobi, 19 December 2014 - The recovery of the ozone layer - the shield that protects life on Earth from harmful levels of ultraviolet rays - would come sooner if we were to fast-track the elimination of the production of the ozone-depleting substance (ODS) hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and manage other ODSs that remain in equipment, building walls and chemical stockpiles, according to the full release of a report by nearly 300 scientists from 36 countries.

New Report Makes Strong Business Case for Using Safer Chemicals in Products and Supply Chains

Geneva, 15 December 2014 - Chemicals are all around us, present in the products we use every day.The demand for increased transparency on chemicals up and down the supply chain is growing - we need to understand how and with what chemicals we are interacting. Consumers, retailers and brands all want to know more, driving companies to disclose information about the hazardous chemicals in their products and to make safer choices.

World on Track to New Universal Climate Agreement with Lima Call for Climate Action

Lima, 14 December 2014 - A new 2015 agreement on climate change, that will harness action by all nations, took a further important step forward in Lima following two weeks of negotiations by over 190 countries.

Nations concluded by elaborating the elements of the new agreement, scheduled to be agreed in Paris in late 2015, while also agreeing the ground rules on how all countries can submit contributions to the new agreement during the first quarter of next year.

UNEP Launches Wastewater Video in the Series Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey

Washington, D.C., 9 December 2014 - The United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for North America (UNEP RONA), UNEP Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI) and nationally-syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey announced today the release of the video "Wastewater: A widespread threat and missed resource," which portrays the impacts of wastewater on coastal communities and ecosystems, and the benefits of improving its management. This new video is part of a series of innovative ocean awareness videos titled Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey.

Full Economic Potential of Carbon-Rich Mangroves Remains Untapped

Lima, December 9, 2014 - The economic and social benefits of mangroves - which are estimated to run into the hundreds of billions worldwide - remain largely untapped due to a lack of carbon finance mechanisms, appropriate policy interventions, and rapid mangrove deforestation, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report launched today at the 20th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change.

Montreal Protocol Celebrates Landmark Achievement with Universal Ratification of All Amendments 

Nairobi, 08 December 2014 - Global efforts to protect the ozone layer have reached a major milestone after all of the Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer received universal ratification by 197 Parties. 

UN Says Global Carbon Neutrality Should be Reached by Second Half of Century, Demonstrates Pathways to Stay Under 2°C Limit

Washington D.C., 19 November 2014 - In order to limit global temperature rise to 2°C and head off the worst impacts of climate change, global carbon neutrality should be attained by mid-to-late century. This would also keep in check the maximum amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that can be emitted into the atmosphere while staying within safe temperature limits beyond 2020, says a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

UNEP and the Organization of American States Renew Joint-Efforts to Enhance Environmental Rule of law 

Washington D.C., 19 November 2014 - The UN South-South Cooperation Expo on enhancing cooperation for sustainable development served as the stage for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UNEP and the Organization of American States (OAS) designed to foster increased cooperation between the two organizations on the development and implementation of environmental rule of law for the promotion of sustainable development. 

UN Top Environment Award Announces 2014 Laureates

Nairobi/Washington D.C., 19 November 2014 - The Innovators and policymakers whose service to the environment is saving lives, improving livelihoods and bettering environmental governance and conservation were announced as recipients of the United Nation's highest environmental accolade, the Champions of the Earth Award.