United Nations System-Wide

UNEP Division for Environmental Information, Assessment and Early Warning

Briefing Note

Earthwatch Coordination, based in Geneva, extends the mandate and activities of the Division of Environmental Information, Assessment and Early Warning to the whole United Nations system. It provides leadership and direction to the UN System-wide Earthwatch established at the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. Its mission is to coordinate, harmonize and integrate observing, assessment and reporting activities across the UN system in order to provide environmental and appropriate socio-economic information for national and international decision making on sustainable development and for early warning of emerging problems requiring international action. Further information on the organization of Earthwatch and its partnerships with some 50 parts of the UN system can be found on the Earthwatch web site (http://www.unep.ch/earthw.html).

The activities of Earthwatch Coordination include:

Maintaining an effective UN system-wide Earthwatch process through inter-agency coordination, harmonization and integration of environmental observations, assessments and reporting through the annual Earthwatch Working Party, the Earthwatch web site, electronic communications with focal points, and other inter-agency activities.

As Earthwatch Task Manager, and in collaboration with the UN Division for Sustainable Development, follow up the implementation of Agenda 21 Chapter 40: Information for Decision-making, which is the cross-cutting theme for the Commission for Sustainable Development in 2001.

Providing strategic direction, and supporting the implementation of the UNEP Environmental Observing and Assessment Strategy through a UN Foundation/UN Fund for International Partnerships project developed and launched through Earthwatch Coordination.

Supporting the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) process and other UNEP state-of-the-environment reporting through direct inputs, capacity-building in GEO collaborating centres, and organizing participation by the UN system in GEO.

Providing UNEP leadership in the Integrated Global Observing Strategy (IGOS) Partnership between space agencies, UN agencies, global research programmes and observing systems, and in the Global Observing Systems (GCOS, GOOS, GTOS) and their Sponsors Group:
- contributing to secretariat services for the IGOS Partnership,
- maintaining the IGOS web pages (http://www.igospartners.org/), and
- participating as possible in the intergovernmental meetings and steering committees of the G3OS.

Strengthening collaboration and coordination with the scientific community:
- reviewing international scientific advisory processes for environment and sustainable development, and
- supervising development by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) of a strategic cooperative network for early warning.

Stimulating the development of indicators of environment and sustainable development, including:
- collaboration with the UN Division for Sustainable Development in implementing the Commission on Sustainable Development work programme on indicators of sustainable development;
- participation in the Consultative Group on Sustainable Development Indicators;
- cooperation with targeted programmes of other agencies to develop sectoral indicators.

Providing UNEP guidance and supporting information resources for assessment and action on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), coral reefs, and marine environmental and international waters assessments:
- documentation centre and on-line bibliography,
- UNEP islands web page (http://www.unep.ch/islands.html).
- on-line Island Directory of over 2000 islands
- training materials on island environmental management

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UN System-wide Earthwatch Coordination, Geneva