Annual Report 2018

Annual Report 2018

Putting the environment at the heart of people's lives


Chapter 00


António Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General

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Joyce Msuya

Acting Executive Director, UN Environment Programme

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Chapter 00

Selected 2018 highlights
Minimizing the scale and impact of Climate Change

Beating plastic pollution

Reducing plastic pollution of the oceans is a priority issue for UN Environment. In 2018 we helped nations and individuals make huge commitments to giving up single-use plastics.

The UN-REDD Programme celebrates 10 years

The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (the UN-REDD Programme) was the first joint UN global initiative on climate change.

Financing sustainable development

Our work on financing for sustainable development broke new ground in 2018.

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Chapter 1

Minimizing the scale and impact of climate change
Our work on climate change

In our work on climate change we focus on:

  • Climate resilience, where we support countries to use ecosystem-based and other approaches to adapt to climate change.
  • Low-emission growth, where we support countries to increase energy efficiency, access clean energy finance, and reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants by moving to renewable energy.
  • REDD+, where we enable countries to capitalize on investments that reduce greenhouse emissions from deforestation and forest degradation with adequate social and environmental safeguards.

UN Environment fights to cut cooling and heating emissions

Cooling and heating are—for those lucky enough to have them—a lifesaver, keeping children healthy, vaccines stable, food fresh, energy supplies stable, economies productive and environments clean.

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Chapter 2

Minimizing environmental threats
Our work on disasters and conflicts

In our work on disasters and conflicts we focus on:

  • Risk reduction, where we improve the capacity of countries to use environmental management to prevent and reduce the risks of natural hazards, industrial disasters and conflict.
  • Response and recovery, where we support countries in the aftermath of a disaster or conflict to identify and address environmental risks that could have serious social and economic impacts.

Building resilience and peace in resource-scarce Darfur

Four years ago, Aziza Mohammed Abdallah Mukhtar was scraping a living growing tobacco in the community of Zamzam in Sudan’s arid North Darfur State.

Like many Darfuris, Aziza 52, has lived for decades in...

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Chapter 3

Supporting human well-being through healthy ecosystems
Our work on ecosystem management

In our work on ecosystem management we focus on:

  • Creating an enabling environment, where we assist countries in incorporating the value and the long-term functioning of ecosystems in planning and accounting frameworks.
  • The productivity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, where we help countries to use an ecosystem approach to manage terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
  • The productivity of marine ecosystems, where we help countries to use an ecosystem approach in marine ecosystem management.

Vow to protect massive African peatland a huge win for planet

As a biodiversity treasure trove and an opportunity for climate action, peatlands need our urgent protection and restoration—which makes a 2018 commitment to protect a massive peatland in Central Africa a huge win for the planet, and the people and animals living there.

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Chapter 4

Strengthening governance in an interconnected world
Our work on environmental governance

In our work on environmental governance we focus on:

  • Coherence and synergies, where we help the UN system and multilateral environmental agreements to work together more coherently.
  • Stronger laws and institutions, where we support national efforts to develop and enforce laws, and strengthen institutional arrangements for achieving environmental objectives in tandem with social and economic goals.
  • Mainstreaming of environment into development planning and decision-making, where we assist countries to integrate environmental sustainability into development planning.

Helping enforcement catch up with environmental laws

When Pakistani customs officers seized massive amounts of R-22 refrigerant— a powerful ozone-depleting substance and greenhouse gas—it showed how strong enforcement of environmental laws can make a real difference to protecting the planet.

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Chapter 5

Ensuring sound management of chemicals and waste
Our work on chemicals and waste

In our work on chemicals and waste we focus on:

  • Creating an enabling environment, where we support countries to have the policies and institutional capacity to manage chemicals and waste soundly.
  • Chemicals, where we help countries and other stakeholders implement sound chemicals management and related multilateral environmental agreements.
  • Waste, where we help countries and other stakeholders implement sound waste management and related multilateral environmental agreements.

25 steps to end millions of deaths from “the new tobacco”

Air pollution isn’t a new problem. We’ve been worried about smog for centuries, from the infamous “pea souper” smogs of 19th century London to the hazes that regularly engulf cities from Beijing to Delhi in the present day. What is new, however, is the awareness of exactly how bad it is for our health.

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Chapter 6

Accelerating the transition to sustainable societies
Our work on resource efficiency

In our work on resource efficiency we focus on:

  • An enabling policy environment, where we help countries make the transition to inclusive green economies and to adopt sustainable consumption and production action plans.
  • Sustainability in businesses, where we work with governments, businesses and other stakeholders to make global supply chains more sustainable.
  • Sustainable lifestyles and consumption, where we empower countries, businesses, civil society and individuals to live and consume responsibly and sustainably.

Turning waste into an asset in Aqaba, Jordan

Jordan is facing increasing waste problems, with municipal solid waste rising from 2.6 million tonnes in 2014 to almost 3 million tonnes in 2017.

The nation is not alone in what remains a global problem.

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Chapter 7

Promoting evidence-based decision-making
Our work on environment under review

In our work to keep the environment under review we focus on:

  • Assessments, where we support global, regional and national policymaking using environmental information accessible on open platforms.
  • Early warning, where we provide planning authorities with information on emerging environmental issues of global importance.
  • Information management, where we strengthen the capacity of countries to generate, access, analyse, use and communicate environmental information and knowledge.

Paradise found: Saint Lucia preserving beauty through data and policy action

If ever an island justified the label “paradise” that tourist brochures liberally apply to destinations, it is Saint Lucia.

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Enabling, inspiring and celebrating environmental action
Photo: UN Environment

Chapter 8

Providing knowledge to policymakers

UN Environment and the scientific bodies it hosts provide cutting-edge science that helps policymakers take decisions that protect the environment for the benefit of all.

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Chapter 9

Global conventions hosted by UN Environment



  • Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer
  • Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
  • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
  • Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
  • Minamata Convention on Mercury

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Chapter 10

World Environment Day

India helped to make World Environment Day 2018—under the theme of Beat Plastic Pollution—one the biggest and most impactful in the annual event’s 45-year history...

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Chapter 11

Champions of the Earth
Honouring outstanding environmental leadership

UN Environment recognized six of the world’s most outstanding environmental change-makers with a Champions of the Earth Award—the United Nations’ highest environmental honour—on the sidelines of the seventy-third session of the UN General Assembly in September. Weibo, China’s microblogging and social media giant, supports the awards.

See the 2018 Champions of the Earth, as well as the 2018 Young Champions of the Earth

Chapter 12

Budget performance

UN Environment's 2018 budget performance

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Chapter 13

UN Environment leadership team

Meet UN Environment's leadership team.

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