United Nations System-Wide
  Earthwatch Working Party 4 (Geneva, 2-3 April 1998)
UNEP/EWWP4/5 of 6 March 1998
Agenda Item 8


1. UNEP would like its second Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report to be a consensus document representing the best information available on the state of and trends in the global environment, incorporating a strong regional perspective. Regional consultations are being held around the world to review the first draft of the report. It is equally important that all the relevant organizations of the United Nations system, through the UN system-wide Earthwatch mechanism, have the opportunity to review and comment on the draft report, distributed to all Earthwatch focal points in mid-March.

2. GEO is a biennial report prepared by UNEP on the state of the global environment, through a consultative and de-centralized process. The first edition known as "GEO-1" was launched during UNEP's 19th Governing Council in January 1997, with "GEO-2" scheduled for publication in May 1999. GEO-1 was a major success, both as a global assessment and as a forward-looking analysis of environmental challenges, and it had a significant impact on the 5-year review of Agenda 21 by the Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN General Assembly Special Session in 1997. As one of the principal expressions of UNEP's role in the United Nations system in setting the global environmental agenda, it is important that the whole system participate in the formulation of GEO as the most authoritative statement on the world’s environment.

3. GEO-2 seeks to answer such questions as: how have we done in the current century in terms of the global environment? On what course are we entering the next millennium and therefore, what enhanced policies need to be put in place before the year 2015? The report aims at providing concrete guidance for international environmental action planning, policy setting and resource allocation for the next 15 years, based on a sound global analysis of the state of and trends in the world’s environment. GEO-2 also focuses (to a greater extent than GEO-1) on alternative policy options and emerging environmental issues, and includes a review of international environmental agreements and their impacts to date. Annex I contains the complete table of contents for GEO-2, and Annex II the GEO-2 production schedule.

4. The purpose of this system-wide consultation on GEO-2 is primarily to obtain advice and feedback from United Nations organizations and their experts on the draft report. This is first and foremost an opportunity to review the report in terms of contents, focus and the priorities discussed therein. It is worthwhile noting that the reviews of GEO-1 led to major changes in the first draft of the report, which was greatly improved as a result.

5. The Earthwatch Working Party will not be the only opportunity to comment on the draft of GEO-2. Comments in writing can be submitted to the GEO team at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi up to the end of May. All such inputs will be acknowledged.

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  Annex I

Overall Table of Contents for the GEO-2 Report

Front matter (logos, foreword, table of contents, etc.) - 10 pages

Executive Summary and major conclusions - 15 pages

Chapter I - State of the Environment - 160 pages
- Global review and analysis - 15 pages
- Regional review and analyses - 145 pages

Chapter 2 - Review of Current Policy Options - 75 pages
- Global review and analysis - 15 pages
- Regional reviews and analyses - 60 pages

Chapter 3 - Review of International Agreements and their impacts - 45 pages

Chapter 4 - Alternative Policy Options for Future - 55 pages

Chapter 5 - New, Emerging Environmental Issues - 30 pages

Annexes - Acknowledgments, acronyms, etc. - 10 pages

Index - 5 pages

  Annex II

Overall Time Schedule for the Production of GEO-2

First GEO-2 Production meeting with Collaborating Centres - Groningen, the Netherlands - March 1997

Second GEO-2 Production meeting with Collaborating Centres - Beijing, China - May 1997

Third GEO-2 Production meeting with CollaboratingCentres - Manama, Bahrain - November 1997

Fourth GEO-2 Production meeting with Collaborating Centres - Brasilia, Brazil - February 1998

Assembly of first complete GEO-2 draft - February to March 1998

First complete GEO-2 regional sections draft to participants in the Regional Consultations - Beginning April 1998

Review of first complete regional GEO-2 draft by UN agencies, experts - April to June 1998

Regional Consultations (six regions) - May 1998

Assembly of the final complete GEO-2 draft - July-September 1998

Global Consultation (new in GEO process) - October 1998

Final editing, layout, type-setting, etc. - November 1998 - January 1999

GEO printing - February 1999

Pre-launch distribution to UNEP's Governing Council (GC-20) participants - March 1999

Public launch of GEO-2 at UNEP's GC-20 - May 1999

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