Climate Change

Climate Change Strengthening the ability of individuals, communities and nations to adapt to climate change, move towards low-carbon societies, improve understanding of climate science, and raise public awareness about the Earth's changing climate.


The globally averaged mixing ratios of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new heights in 2009. These values are greater than those in pre-industrial times (before 1750) by 38 per cent, 158 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively.

In 2009, as other economic sectors declined around the world, existing renewable capacity continued to grow at rates close to previous years, including grid-connected solar PV (53 per cent), wind power (32 per cent), solar hot water/heating (21 per cent), geothermal power (4 per cent), and hydropower (3 per cent).

By early 2009, energy policy targets and programmes existed in at least 73 countries, and at least 64 countries had policies to promote renewable power generation, including 45 countries and 18 states, provinces, territories with feed-in tariffs. The number of countries, states, provinces with renewable portfolio standards increased to 49.

Climate Change Website

Disasters and Conflicts

Disasters and Conflict UNEP seeks to minimize environmental threats to human well-being from the environmental causes and consequences of conflicts and disasters.


From Afghanistan to Sudan, Haiti and China, UNEP has responded to crisis situations in over 40 locations since 1999.

The earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 resulted in 220,000 deaths, destroyed over 250,000 buildings and affected three million people.

40 per cent of all internal conflicts over the last 60 years have had a link to natural resources.

Disasters and Conflicts Website

Ecosystem Management

Ecosystem Management Supporting balanced responses to natural resource management to meet future ecological and human needs.


More than half of the world's hospital beds are filled by people suffering from water-related illnesses affecting human well-being and countries' further development and economic growth.

In 2010, governments agreed to increase landbased protected areas to 17 per cent of the Earth's surface, from around 12.5 per cent now, and to extend marine protected areas to 10 per cent.

Ecosystem services and other non-marketed natural goods account for 47 to 89 per cent of the so-called 'Gross Domestic Product of the Poor'.

Ecosystem Management Website

Environmental Governance

Environmental Governance Promoting informed decision-making to enhance global and regional environmental cooperation.


The global environmental governance architecture includes more than 500 Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). A recent study shows that between the years 1992-2007 the parties of eighteen major MEAs were called for 540 meetings at which 5,084 decisions were taken.

With policy action to improve freshwater supplies for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene purposes, as many as 135 million deaths could be prevented by 2020.

Improving the global environmental governance structure of the Earth's natural resources is a practical imperative, as almost half the jobs worldwide depend on fisheries, forests or agriculture.

Environmental Governance Website

Harmful Substances

Harmful Substances UNEP is a driving force behind the sound management of chemicals, including chemical safety, and provides nations with access to information on toxic chemicals.


An estimated 18 to 22 million people are at risk from lead poisoning, 15 to 19 million from mercury, 13 to 17 million from chromium and 5 to 8 million from pesticides.

Twenty-one of the most Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) are now strictly controlled by the Stockholm Convention agreed in 2001 which now has 172 Parties.

The Secretariat of the Basel Convention estimated that about 318 and 338 million tonnes of municipal solid waste were generated in 2000 and 2001 respectively

As much as 80 per cent of the pollution load in coastal waters and the deep oceans comes from land-based activities.

Harmful Substances Website

Resource Efficiency

Resource Efficiency Fostering sustainable consumption and production by leading global efforts to ensure natural resources are produced, processed and consumed in a more sustainable way.


The building sector is responsible for more than a third of global resource consumption annually, including 12 per cent of all fresh water use, and produces 40 per cent of solid waste.

The International Energy Agency has estimated that fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from the world's cars will roughly double between 2000 and 2050.

It is estimated that around 140 billion tonnes of agricultural biomass is produced annually.

A global Green Economy requires much higher recycling rates of specialty metals such as lithium, neodymium and gallium - yet only about 1 per cent of them are recycled.

Resource Efficiency Website


Gertrude Ngenda

Topic: UNEP's Work in Africa


Champions of the Earth
Champions of the Earth 2012:
Nominations open 1 September 2011


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UNEP acts as an implementing agency for a number of environmental trust funds through which countries access financial and technical support to deal with environmental challenges. More