United Nations environment program

Established in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the principal body in the UN system in the field of environment, and the primary organization mandated by governments to catalyze and coordinate their actions in protecting the global environment.  It is a unique forum for high-level dialogue and international action on global environmental concerns.

UNEP has the broadest representation of any international environmental organization, and deals with both policy and scientific issues. UNEP brings together developed countries, economies in transition, and developing nations. 

UNEP has been instrumental in developing international environmental instruments to address global environmental issues and hosts the secretariats of several environmental conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in Trade and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.  The upcoming negotiations of a legally binding instrument on mercury, of which Canada was an advocate, will also take place under the auspices of UNEP.

UNEP works on six cross-cutting priorities: 1) Climate change; 2) Disasters and conflicts; 3) Ecosystem management; 4) Environmental governance; 5) Harmful substances and hazardous waste; and 6) Resource efficiency.  Canada is engaged in UNEP’s work on environmental policy and scientific issues that affect Canadians and that must be addressed through collective action (e.g. global action on mercury), to pool resources from many countries to obtain invaluable environmental information and scientific data (e.g. water quality monitoring and assessment, global assessment of mercury, marine pollution from land-based activities), and to influence the wider international environmental agenda and the various institutions involved in environmental issues. 

Environment Canada has also been involved with UNEP's Global Environment Monitoring System Water Program (GEMS/Water) for over 30 years.  The GEMS/Water Program is the primary source for global water quality data.  It is a multi-faceted water science program to improve water quality monitoring and assessment capabilities in participating countries and to determine the status and trends of regional and global water quality.  The National Water Research Institute hosts the GEMS/Water Program Office and Global Centre on Water Quality and maintains the global database.

In additon, Environment Canada actively support financially the Global Environment Monitoring System Water Program (GEMS/Water) through a 2.5 million dollar contribution for the 2009 to 2014 period.

Link: www.unep.org

Link: www.gemswater.org

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