The United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) was established by the UN General Assembly, following the 1972 Conference
on Environment and Development, which took place in Stockholm. UNEP's mandate
"to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the
environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve
their quality of life without compromising that of future generations."
Twenty years later, Agenda 21, was adopted at the 1992 United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Agenda 21
highlighted two of the needs in implementing the UNEP mandate as:
- The provision of access to reliable environmental information; and
- Increasing the capacity of governments to use such information and as a basis for environmental
decision making and management.
These needs are being addressed under UNEP's Environmental
Assessment Programme, of which the Global
Resource Information Database (GRID) network forms an integral part. GRID is
a global network of co-operating centres, which facilitate access to
environmental information. Activities include data collation, distribution,
processing, cataloguing, presentation and dissemination through the use of
remote sensing, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), data management systems,
Internet, WWW and telecommunications technologies. End users comprise UN
organisations, government and regional agencies, policy makers, scientific
institutions, local managers and the general public. Key features of these
- Initiatives to promote the
use of environmental information products in the design and formulation of
policy, guidelines, management procedures and decision making processes,
rather than their development as stand-alone products.
- The implementation of a
bottom-up approach to the design, management and use of data management
systems, through stakeholder involvement.
- Design of information
management systems and procedures that take account of organisational and
policy issues (eg roles and responsibilities of data contributors, data
ownership, access, charging mechanisms etc) as well as technical
- Design of systems and
products that bridge the gap between scientists and end users, through
conversion of data into accessible and user friendly information products.
- Design of technical data
management systems appropriate to users needs, resources, technologies and
- Capacity building and
training in the use of information management systems and procedures.
General Information about the UN and UNEP: