UNEP Collaboration with Geneva-based UN Organisations
The environmental aspect of UNHCR's work has been focused on effects of refugees and refugee movements on natural environments. In many respects this overlaps with core areas of UNEP expertise. Therefore in responding to the common concerns , the two organization have had extensive cooperation in the following areas:
1-Combating deforestation, soil erosion and desertification, pollution and depletion of freshwater resources, 2-Development of Environmental Guidelines to provide a cohesive framework for action at the field and policy levels in refugee-affected scenarios3-Environmental Education and Training, including the implementation of indicators for gender and environment-sensitive management practices' for refugee-affected scenarios, field projects, post conflict environmental impact assessment , awareness rising

Ongoing activities

A) UNEP-UNHCR Pre-assessment report of environmental impact by refugees in Guinea. In July 1999, at the request of the Government of Guinea, the Secretary General of the UN asked UNEP to look into the environmental impacts of the refugee situation in Guinea. On this basis , UNEP in cooperation with UNHCR and UN Commission on Human Settlements ( UNCHS ),UNDP and the World Bank prepared the assessment report on the Environmental Impact of the Refugees in Guinea. Both organizations are ready to cooperate on the implementation of the report as soon as the situation is calm in the region.
b) Developing a West African project menu. It is envisaged that a range of specific project activities will surface from the above initiative, which is anticipated to be merged with current efforts in developing a "Brookings project menu" in West Africa.
C) Cooperation on implementation of Environmental Assessment in the Balkan Region started in Sep 2000. After successful cooperation in development of the Balkan Task Force Report, now the two organizations are cooperating in Implementation of the report. E) Developing tools for environmental monitoring and assessment . The two Organizations have cooperation in developing appropriate methodologies and very practical tools for environmental assessment and monitoring for use in refugee operations.( It is based on field-testing in Uganda, Guinea and Sudan (amongst other places). F) Development of more overall, inter-agency based, co-coordinated efforts in mitigating environmental impacts by refugees.

UNEP hosted the first workshop on the EIA of the refugees on the environment in Sep 2000 with the purpose of defining a program of action and setting priorities on Environment and refugees.




UNEP and WHO signed a Memorandum of Underestanding in August 1999. Current activity indicates that among the proposed areas of cooperation, chemical safety is being the most operational part of the collaborative work and other areas are in various stage of development. Areas already in the General MOU, which are therefore for intensified co-operation, include:
Waste management,water supply and sanitation, climate and health, Water resources management, Environmental health protection for children, Food safety (biotechnology, GMO's), Chemical Safety, Air pollution control, Indigenous people and Depleted Uranium (UNEP's Balkan Task Force and WHO). There is also the IOMC MoU and the IPCS MoU. The IPCS MoU is a MoU among the WHO, ILO and UNEP establishing the International Programme on Chemical Safety. Besides the MOU, the two organizations have joint activities on specific chemical issues like POPs and their alternatives, on DDT and Malaria, as well as the MOU establishing the IOMC.
Gguidance and training materials on implementing alternative approaches to POPs pesticides have been produced and regional and sub regional training workshops are being carried out jointly with WHO and FAO.


Cooperation on Implementation of an international Program on chemical Safety (IPCS):

This program aims to strengthen the capacities in developing and industrializing countries to develop risk reduction strategies for chemicals. The IPCS MoU is an MoU among the WHO, ILO and UNEP establishing the International Programme on Chemical Safety.

The inter-organizational program for the sound management of Chemicals (IOMC) which involves the OECD and the UN organizations dealing with chemicals, namely UNEP, ILO, WHO, UNIDO and FAO. This program was established in 1995 to serve as the mechanism for coordinating efforts of intergovernmental organizations in the field of chemical safety. Coordinating mechanisms established relate to areas as risk evaluation, harmonization of classification of chemicals as well as information exchange on toxic chemicals and chemical risks.

Mining sector work specially mall scale mining and occupational safety. This program is focused on building capacity to implement new policies between the government and the industry. This work involves making information available to a wide range of professions, preparing training manuals (e.g. Environmental Monitoring Systems) Workshops.

Implementation of the Global Compact Initiative. Since Davos Conference on 31 January 99, when the Secretary General of the UN challenged the world business leaders to embrace and enact the Global Compact in their individual corporate practices and support appropriate public policies through consideration and implementation of 9 Human rights, Environment and labor principles, UNEP, ILO and OHCHR have expressed their readiness to cooperate for implementation of the initiative. They are the three key UN agencies responsible for implementation of the initiative in cooperation with the business sector.

Implementation of the Norwegian supported UNEP-ILO project on Cleaner Production for national employers organizations.


WMO has many functions similar to those abilities and activities demonstrated in UNEP's DEIA/EW Division. Specifically, WMO has an 'Atmospheric Research and Environment Programme', which coordinates research on the composition and behaviour of the atmosphere and global weather system, focusing on extreme event and socio-economic impacts. Of special relevance is its work to monitor atmospheric greenhouse gas build-up, and assess the integrity of the stratospheric ozone layer.

Already, UNEP have co-operated successfully with WMO over the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). UNEP has collaborative MOU with WMO on Global Climate Observing Systems for the biennium. UNEP supports the GCOS Secretariat in planning and organizing meetings of the Scientific Steering Committee and other Panels of GCOS. The support would generally go towards the support of developing country participants in GCOS meetings.

The Climate Agenda consists of Four Thrusts and UNEP is charged with implementing Thrust 3 on Climate Impacts Assessment and Response Strategies to Reduce Vulnerability. The Climate Agenda is the integrating framework for the many climate related activities in the various agencies such as UNEP, WMO, FAO, IHDP, ICSU (International Council for Scientific Unions) IOC (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) etc. The Climate Agenda is coordinated through an Inter-Agency Committee on the Climate Agenda (IACCA) which should meet about once every year. UNEP implements the World Climate Impacts Assessment and Response Strategies Programme (WCIRP) of the World Climate Programme, and reports annually to the WMO Executive Council and every 4 years to the WMO Congress on progress in its implementation. IPCC UNEP and WMO established the IPCC in 1988 and have created an IPCC Trust Fund where governments make contributions for carrying out climate change assessments.

UNEP has discussed with WMO their involvement in the global Solar Wind Energy Resource Assessment, for which a project brief has been submitted to the GEF Council. If approved, the two organizations would discuss specific forms of cooperation in the project.


In April 2000, UNEP and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) launched the Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF). Over a three-year period, the UNEP-UNCTAD CBTF aims to strengthen the capacities of countries, particularly developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to effectively address trade-environment-development issues at the national level and to participate effectively in trade-environment-development deliberations at the international level.

The framework builds on the on-going work at and between the two organisations and extends it, through extra budgetary funds, to benefit a wider set of countries participating in CBTF activities. A trust fund, established for the purpose of supporting the CBTF, has been established and will be administered by UNEP. A memorandum of understanding between UNEP and UNCTAD on the terms of reference for the trust fund has been exchanged between the two organisations. BTF activities will engage stakeholders from all sectors of society in research, training, country studies and policy dialogue. These activities will focus on enhancing understanding of the linkages between trade, environment and development, leading to the formulation and implementation of integrated strategies and policies to maximise the benefits, and minimise the negative impacts, of increasing trade and trade liberalisation in those countries.

UNEP and UNCTAD also have jointly developed a global Internet site. The Minerals Resources Forum - to provide an information exchange platform for key sustainable development issues. UNEP operates the sections of this Forum dealing with mining and environment and with offshore oil and gas.


Collaboration between the two secretariats is through enhanced information exchange, consultation, participation in joint activities and capacity building efforts. Implementation is through a framework of cooperation between the two organisations signed in November 1999. The framework, which builds on the on-going work between the two organisations, emphasises the importance of continued collaboration between the secretariats of UNEP and WTO. With the cooperation and participation of the WTO, UNEP is holding a series of workshops on enhancing synergies between multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and the WTO.


Given the present unqualified capacity of information and communications technology to reduce resource and travel stresses on the environment, the time is definitely ripe for a deepening of links between UNEP and the ITU. Representatives of European, North American and Japanese telecommunications companies have agreed to lunch a Global Telecom Initiative for the environment and sustainable development. Discussions in working groups have been started and UNEP is currently developing the 'Global Telecoms Initiative' in which ITU is an integral part. UNEP DTIE in close cooperation with the liaison office is following this initiative. The proposal for such a global initiative has been made by UNEP, the ITU, European Telecommunication Network Operators Association (ETNO) and North American participants. The ITU will assist in involving companies from the non-OECD world. Close contact has been established with the Telecom Development Bureau and both sides have expressed their interest for cooperation specifically on the GTI. It's been agreed that in the upcoming meeting of the GTI steering group, clear areas of cooperation will be further defined. Further co-operation, under the auspices of a possible MOU, might include the following initiatives:

- Creating an initiative in support of a Sustainable Information Society

-Organising seminars, workshops and pilot projects to enhance access to and use of ICT to support environmental protection and sustainable development


The mission of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is to ensure the universal enjoyment of all human rights by giving practical effect to the will and resolve of the world community as expressed by the United Nations. Some of the themes on which UNEP and OHCHR could develop meaningful cooperation both in terms of organizational collaboration and promotion of the discussion of the commission on Environment and sustainable development .

At the organizational level , discussions are underway for defining the areas of cooperation in particular it the area of capacity building for development and implementation of Environment law

At the commission level :

Right to a Healthy Environment

Various human rights bodies such as the Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the Commission of Human Rights, the Commission on the Status of Women, committees established under International Conventions, Working Groups and Special Rapporteurs have been concerned with the environmental dimension of human rights. Among the various studies conducted by Special Rapporteurs of the Sub-Commission there was a 1994 study devoted to Human Rights and Environment. In the process of conducting the study several resolutions were adopted by the Commission and the Sub-Commission, reaffirming the close relationship between human rights and the environment.

In a recent development, the Commission on Human Rights in view of preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Sep 2002, South Africa ), at its 57th session in 2001, adopted the decision E/CN.4/DEC/2001/111 on Environment and Human Rights, in which has requested UNEP and the OHCHR to hold an international Seminar to review and assess progress achieved since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in promoting and protecting human rights in relation to environmental questions and in the framework of Agenda 21. This move, indeed has provided the opportunity for both UNEP and OHCHR to built on their cooperation in the area of environment and human rights. Organizational activates are underway for implantation of the decision.

Dangerous Products and Waste

In 1995 a Special Rapporteur on the adverse effects of the illicit movement and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes on the enjoyment of human rights has been appointed by the Commission on Human Rights for a period of three years with a mandate to: Investigate and examine the effects of the illicit dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes in African and other developing countries on the enjoyment of human rights, in particular on the human rights to life and health of everyone; Investigate, monitor, examine and receive communications and gather information on the illicit traffic and dumping of toxic and dangerous products and wastes in African and other developing countries.


ŠUNEP, Geneva Liaison Office - Last Updated: 25 November 2000 - Maintained by: glo@unep.ch