In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, United Nations Environment Programme has compiled a series of snapshots overtime. We have served as an authoritative advocate for the global environment since 1972. Our aim is to inspire, inform and enable nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
The United Nations General Assembly declares 2021—2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres visits the South Pacific to spotlight the issue of climate change ahead of the Climate Action Summit in New York. In addition to Tuvalu, the trip took him to New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu. In each country, the Secretary-General met with government leaders, civil society representatives and youth groups, to hear from those already impacted by climate change and who are also successfully engaging in meaningful climate action.
UN Climate Action Summit 2019. The Summit was convened by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and aimed to deliver new pathways and practical actions to shift global response into higher gear on confronting climate change, as well as to boost ambition and accelerate action to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The Minamata Convention on Mercury comes into force with the objective of protecting human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury compounds. The Convention contains provisions that relate to the life cycle of mercury, including controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted.
UNEP launches the Clean Seas campaign to engage governments, the general public and the private sector in the fight against marine litter.
UNEP launches Young Champions of the Earth to celebrate and support individuals aged between 18 and 30 who have outstanding potential to create a positive environmental impact.
In response to the global trafficking crisis, UNEP launches Wild for Life, a campaign to protect endangered wildlife species. The campaign raises awareness and elicit behaviour change to prevent poaching and illegal trade and to reduce demand for wildlife and wildlife products.
UNEP and partners launches the BreatheLife campaign to raise awareness of the impacts and solutions of air pollution. It works with cities and countries in a global effort to improve air quality and ensure a thriving planet, raising global awareness on the importance of air quality for health, climate, ecosystems and economic development.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference leads to a landmark climate agreement. At the meeting in Paris, 195 countries adopt the world’s first universal and legally binding global climate deal.
The Climate Summit 2014 is held at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited leaders of governments, the private sector, and civil society to unite in taking concrete action towards a low-carbon emission world
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.
Ministers of environment and heads of delegations adopt the Nusa Dua Declaration at the eleventh special session of the UNEP Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Bali, Indonesia. The declaration underscores the vital importance of biodiversity, the urgent need to combat climate change and the advantages of advancing towards a “green economy.”
UNEP launches the first Emission Gap Report, a science-based assessment of the gap between countries’ pledges on greenhouse gas emissions and the reductions required to deliver a global temperature increase of below 2˚C by the end of this century.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits the Polar ice rim to witness first-hand the impact of climate change on icebergs and glaciers. The visit was part of the UN Chief's campaign urging Member States to "seal the deal" on a fair, balanced and effective agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference raised climate change policy to the highest political level. Close to 115 world leaders attended the high-level segment, making it one of the largest gatherings of world leaders ever outside UN headquarters in New York. Countries attending the Conference agreed to 'take note' of a document entitled the Copenhagen Accord. This included the long-term goal of limiting the maximum global average temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Member States launch the UN-REDD programme. It has since spurred 14 national initiatives to combat deforestation, forest degradation and climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to build and disseminate knowledge about human-made climate change and to lay foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.
UNEP launches Champions of the Earth, the United Nations flagship global environmental award. Its aim is to celebrate outstanding figures from the public and private sectors and from civil society whose actions have had a transformative, positive impact on the environment.
United Nations Member States adopt the Stockholm Convention. The Convention, which includes 176 parties, aims to protect human health and the environment from chemicals that persist for long periods in the environment.
103 countries sign the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a supplement to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The international agreement aims to ensure the safe handling, transport and use of organisms that have been modified using modern biotechnology. The Protocol aims to guard against adverse effects on biological diversity and risks to human health.
The Millennium Declaration outlines the Millennium Development Goals, including environmental sustainability. Millennium Development Goal 7 sets specific environmental targets, including biodiversity loss, forest cover and access to safe drinking water.
United Nations Member States adopt The United Nations Global Compact. With more than 8,500 signatories from 135 countries, the initiative aims to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies and to report on their implementation.
The United Nations launches the Rotterdam Convention to promote shared responsibilities in relation to the import of hazardous chemicals and pesticides.
The General Assembly convenes a Special Session focused on the environment. Known as Earth Summit +5, its aim is to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 21 and launch a new global partnership for sustainable development.
UNEP presents the first publication of the Global Environment Outlook. The series places a priority on reflecting regional perspectives and realities and reporting on the status of the global environment.
The Governments of Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe adopt the Zambezi River Action Plan. Covering eight countries across southern Africa, the plan sets a new standard for transboundary water resources management.
All 197 United Nations Member States adopt the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The landmark multilateral environmental agreement regulates the production and consumption of nearly 100 human-made chemicals referred to as ozone-depleting substances. The Protocol is to date the only United Nations treaty to be ratified by every country on Earth.
UNEP’s Governing Council adopts the first Montevideo Programme, setting priorities for global environmental lawmaking. It leads to major agreements—including the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions and the Montreal Protocol—and supports 120 governments in developing environmental legislation.
UN General Assembly designates the 1980’s as the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade. Water, once considered to be an abundant resource, is becoming scare in several geographical areas. Only 2.8 per cent of earth’s water is fresh water. The world is in unanimous agreement on the need to save and conserve water.
In partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund, UNEP publishes the World Conservation Strategy. This landmark document defines the concept of sustainable development and shapes the global sustainable development agenda.
In a first-of-its-kind survey of global environmental issues, the Secretary-General’s report on Problems of the Human Environment issues a stark warning: “If current trends continue, life on Earth could be endangered.”