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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.

UN Environment launches 2016 Annual Report online

UN Environment today launched its online Annual Report and Programme Performance Report for 2016. The report describes the organization’s accomplishments for the year, highlighting successes and detailing performance against targets.

New Regional Representative Elected for North America

February 15, 2017 – Michelle Wyman of the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has been elected as one of the two Regional Major Groups and Stakeholder Representatives to UN Environment, North America Office. Kristan Uhlenbrock of the US Climate Variability and Predictability Program (US CLIVAR) will serve as alternative.

Winners of the Make #NotWasting Food a Way of Life video contest announced

February 1, 2017 - The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) and the UN Environment North America Office have recognized entrants from across North America who demonstrated innovative, impactful and effective approaches to reducing food waste and loss:

New York Pension Fund Joins Multi-billion-dollar International Investors to Reduce Carbon Footprint

January 24, 2017 - In the latest demonstration of institutional asset owners’ commitment to climate action, New York State Common Retirement Fund (CRF), the third largest public pension fund in the US with $184.5 billion in assets, has joined the Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition (PDC).

The countdown to World Environment Day is on: 150 days to go!

The countdown is on! In 150 days—on June 5, 2017—Canada will host 



Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh takes the plunge to save threatened Lake Baikal

September 9, 2016 - Endurance swimmer and UN Environment Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, and the Russian Federation are joining forces to protect Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake in the world, and home to species found nowhere else on earth.

"Lake Baikal is suffering from industrial pollution and is one of the areas on the globe experiencing the most rapid climate change," Lewis told media on the shore of the lake before commencing an awareness-raising swim on the annual Lake Baikal Day. "We must redouble our efforts to protect it."

UN Environment Head Welcomes China, US Announcement on Paris Agreement Ratification

Nairobi, September 3, 2016 - UN Environment head Erik Solheim released the following statement in reaction to the joint announcement by China and the United States on the ratification of the Paris Agreement. 

“This announcement is hugely important. The leadership of China and the United States is crucial to taking the Paris Agreement forward. They bring significant additional momentum to keeping global warming under 2 degrees. 

The World Now Protects 15% of Its Land, but Crucial Biodiversity Zones Left Out

September 2, 2016 – With 14.7 per cent of the Earth's land and 12 per cent of its territorial waters under protection, the world is on track to meet a major global conservation target according to UN Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). 

Hundreds of Millions Face Health Risk as Water Pollution Rises Across Three Continents

August 30, 2016 – Water pollution has risen across three continents, placing hundreds of millions of people at risk of contracting life-threatening diseases like cholera and typhoid, United Nations Environment warns today.

Sick water

Nairobi, 17 August 2016: Summer time in the northern hemisphere! Time to go to the beach or a nearby lake to enjoy the water in the hot weather. Swimming, water-skiing, rafting, snorkeling, playing “fetch” with your dog – pleasurable ways to unwind.

Co-Chairs Announced for Landmark Global Biodiversity & Ecosystems Assessment: First Since 2005

Bonn (IPBES News) - Three of the world's most eminent experts on the intersection of nature and human well-being were announced today as co-chairs of a landmark new global assessment commissioned by the 125 governments comprising the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

UN Environment Head Lauds First Solar-Powered Circumnavigation of Globe by Airplane

26 July 2016, Nairobi - UN Environment chief Erik Solheim released the following statement congratulating the Solar Impulseteam, who today completed the first circumnavigation of the globe in a solar-powered airplane:

Worldwide Extraction of Materials Triples in Four Decades, Intensifying Climate Change and Air Pollution

  • Richest countries consume on average 10 times as many materials as world’s poorest
  • Planet will need 180 billion tonnes of material every year by 2050 if trends continue

20 July 2016 – Rising consumption fuelled by a growing middle class has seen the amount of primary materials extracted from the Earth triple in the last four decades, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme-hosted International Resource Panel (IRP).

Shared Stewardship of Transboundary Waters to Stem Further Degradation

Shared Stewardship of Transboundary Waters to Stem Further Degradation

First global indicator-based assessment shows risk levels of sustaining water bodies for human and planetary well-being



Geneva, 6 November 2015 - Existing policies and strong engagement by nations submitting their contributions ahead of the Paris climate meeting will limit anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030, but a new climate agreement can encourage further action to limit global temperature rise to 2°C by 2100, according to a new United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on 6 November will release the findings of its authoritative and highly anticipated Emissions Gap Report, which each year looks at how the world is progressing on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is announcing the Global Lighting Challenge (GLC), led by the Clean Energy Ministerial  and UNEP through its en.lighten project, a global push to deploy 10 billion high-efficiency, high-quality and affordable advanced lamps and lighting systems.  The GLC will use its global platform to support and promote the work of the International Finance Corporation/World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program in advancing global markets for quality-assured off-grid lighting products.

Washington, 21 October 2015 – On 24 October, more than250 landmarks around the world will be lit in blue – the official color of the United Nations – as part of a worldwide commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ founding.

Washington, D.C., 19 October 2015 - Black carbon causes millions of deaths every year and contributes to the warming of the planet. In the atmosphere it appears as air pollution, with emissions arising mainly from the combustion of diesel fuel and biofuels, coal-fired power stations, biomass cook stoves, brick kilns and vegetation burning in open fields.

Lima, 8 October 2015 – A new UNEP report released at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)/World Bank Annual Meetings shows how to harness the assets of the world’s financial system for sustainability – the key findings are that:

Nairobi, 7 October 2015 - A project aimed at integrating the economic value of ecosystems into government policies has identified almost one billion dollars of benefits in four pilot countries, the importance of ecosystem conservation to the recently adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Abu Dhabi, 7 October 2015 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched an inter-active online hub,, to increase citizen participation in the resolutions and issues addressed by the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) of the United Nations Environment Pro

Nairobi Oct 7 - UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner today welcomed the election of Hoesung Lee, of the Republic of Korea, as the new Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Tuesday.

Nairobi, 6 October 2015 - UN Environment Programme Executive Director Achim Steiner released the following statement following the conclusion of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.


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.