Four Decades of Environmental Leadership
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Stockholm Conference

UNEP is established after the UN’s Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

UNEP provides global leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment.

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1972
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CITES

Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is adopted.

Parties agree to monitor, regulate or ban trade in at-risk species. Over 30,000 species protected, contributing to sustainable development and achievement of MDGs.

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1973
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MAP

Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) is adopted

16 countries across the Mediterranean agree to promote integrated coastal zone management.

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1975
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CMS

Bonn Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) is established

Countries make binding agreements to protect 120 migratory species.

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1979
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Montevideo Programme

UNEP Governing Council adopts the first Montevideo Programme, setting priorities for global lawmaking

The Programme leads to major agreements – including the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions and the Montreal Protocol – and supports 120 governments in developing environmental legislation.

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1982
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Brundtland Commission

Following a decision by UNEP’s Governing Council, the UN General Assembly establishes the Brundtland Commission.

The Commission publishes “Our Common Future”, which defines sustainable development and offers a blueprint for future work on sustainability

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1983
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Zambezi Action Plan

Zambezi River Action Plan is adopted.

Covering eight countries across southern Africa, the plan sets a new standard for transboundary water resources management.

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1987
Montreal Protocol

Montreal Protocol is adopted

The first international agreement to limit the production and consumption of ozone-depleting chemicals, the Protocol has led to a 98% reduction in controlled ozone-depleting substances.

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1987
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IPCC

UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization establish the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The IPCC delivers the most influential and comprehensive reports on climate change and plays a decisive role in the establishment of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

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1988
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Bsel Convention

Basel Convention is adopted

The Convention, which grows to include 183 parties, regulates the movement and disposal of hazardous waste.

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1989
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GEF

Global Environment Facility is established

Since its founding, the GEF has provided $14.5 billion in grants and mobilized $75.4 billion in additional financing for nearly 4,000 environmental projects around the world.

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1991
World Industry Conference

2nd World Industry Conference on Environmental Management issues the Business Charter on Sustainable Development

The Charter lays the foundations for UNEP’s enduring relationship with the business sector and enhances UNEP’s ability to provide policy advice on the green economy.

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1991
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Rio +20

Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 are adopted at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit)

The Summit sets the course for contemporary sustainable development and leads to landmark treaties on climate change, desertification and biodiversity.

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1992
CBD

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is established

The CBD is the first international treaty to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services. Since its adoption, the proportion of the Earth’s land surface that can be classified as a protected area has doubled to more than 12%.

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1992
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GPA

Global Programme of Action (GPA) is launched to protect the marine environment from land-based sources of pollution

Adopted by 108 governments and the EU, the GPA is the only global initiative to address terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems.

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1995
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UNCCD

UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) enters into force

The UNCCD, which now has 195 parties, is the only legally binding international agreement that links environment and development to sustainable land management.

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1996
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Rotterdam Convention

Rotterdam Convention is adopted

Now with 72 signatories, the Rotterdam Convention promotes shared responsibilities in relation to the import of hazardous chemicals and pesticides.

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1998
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UN Global Compact

UN Global Compact is launched

Now with over 8500 signatories from 135 Countries, the UN Global Compact works on sustainable and socially responsible policies.

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1999
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Rotterdam Convention

Millennium Declaration outlines the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including one on environmental sustainability

MDG 7 sets specific environmental targets, including on biodiversity loss, forest cover and access to safe drinking water.

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2000
Malmö Declaration

The Malmö Declaration is adopted.

The declaration which was a crucial input to UN Millennium General Assembly and Rio+10, calls to action on international environmental governance.

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2000
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Stockholm Convention

Stockholm Convention is adopted

The Convention, which has grown to include 176 parties, aims to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that persist for long periods in the environment.

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2001
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World Summit on Sustainable Development

World Summit on Sustainable Development takes place in Johannesburg

The WSSD re-affirms UNEP’s central role in sustainable development and makes critical links between poverty alleviation and environmental protection.

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2002
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Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment highlights the importance of ecosystems to human well-being, and the extent of ecosystem decline

More than one thousand scientists contribute to the report, which influences policy and decision-making worldwide.

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2005
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Climate Change 2007

Fourth IPCC Assessment Report states that global warming is unequivocal

The report mainstreams scientific understanding of climate change and stirs public action. Later that year, the IPCC is a joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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2007
TEEB

The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative is launched

The initiative spotlights the global economic benefits of biodiversity and ecosystems and multi-trillion dollar losses caused by the unsustainable path.

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2007
International Panel for Sustainable Resource

International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management is established

The panel provides the scientific impetus for decoupling economic growth from resource use and issues a call for global action.

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2007
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UNREDD

UN-REDD programme is launched

The programme, which has spurred 14 national initiatives, aims to combat deforestation, forest degradation and climate change.

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2008
Climate Neutral Organization

UNEP becomes a climate-neutral organization

UNEP announces its aim to reduce emissions by 3% every year and buy carbon credits to compensate for the remaining emissions.

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2008
Global Green New Deal

UNEP launches the Global Green New Deal

The initiative aims to re-focus the global economy towards investments in clean technologies and natural infrastructure such as forests and soils.

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2008
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IPBES

Governments agree to establish an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

The platform is designed to bridge the gap between science and policy for better and more focused action on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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2010
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Green Economy

UNEP launches the Green Economy report

The platform is designed to bridge the gap between science and policy for better and more focused action on biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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2011
New Energy Efficient Office Facility

UNEP and UN-HABITAT open New Energy Efficient Office Facility in Gigiri

With 6,000 square metres of solar panels, energy saving lighting, natural ventilation systems and other green features, the office facility is designed to generate as much electricity as its 1,200 occupants consume

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2011
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UNEP

UNEP is strengthened and upgraded

The UN General Assembly establishes the universal membership of UNEP’s governing body, ushering in a new era of stronger international environmental governance.

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2012
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Minimata Convention

Minamata Convention on Mercury is signed

The UN General Assembly establishes the universal membership of UNEP’s governing body, ushering in a new era of stronger international environmental governance.

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2013
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Ozone Layer

The ozone layer shows signs of recovery

As the first United Nations Environment Assembly meets, evidence emerges that the ozone layer is healing thanks to the Montreal Protocol, emphasizing the power of collective action.

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2014
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SDGs' Adopted

SDGs are adopted in New York

193 countries adopt the Sustainable Development Goals, committing to a new global agenda that puts the environment at the heart of the planet’s future, alongside economic and social development.

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2015
UNFCCC COP21

UNFCCC COP21 leads to a landmark climate agreement

Meeting in Paris, 195 countries adopt the world’s first universal and legally binding global climate deal.

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2015
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UNEA-2

Nairobi hosts the second meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2)

Delegates from around the world gather in Nairobi for the second meeting of UNEA, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.

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2016