Keeping the environment under review

The Environment Under Review sub programme aims to contribute to sustainable development and improved well-being through empowering stakeholders at global, regional and national levels. It aims to do this by providing open web platforms, services and access to timely, substantiated knowledge about the environment and emerging issues and by strengthening capacities to make use of substantiated knowledge in decision-making.

Regional assessment

Environmental assessments assist countries to keep the state of their environment under review. The ultimate objective of conducting environmental assessments is to inform and influence policy and decision making, through providing a bridge between science and policy. Thus, all regional assessments include policy analysis and outlook sections.

Environmental assessment fall under three main categories, namely, those that support and present Africa in global level assessments, regional and sub-regional assessments, and support to national and local level (including city) assessments. Irrespective of the level, assessments may be either integrated – taking into account the environmental, social and economic dimensions in the analysis, or thematic and generally organized around the four main components of the environment -  air, water, land, and biota.

Regional and Sub-regional Assessments

The priority regional assessment is the Africa Environment Outlook (AEO).  The focus and underlying theme of this assessment is determined by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, a regional forum that brings together all Ministers in Africa responsible for the environment. The AEO is by nature an integrated assessment report, and also contains policy analysis and outlook sections. Regional reports may however be thematic, based on interest, demand and the comparative advantage of UNEP to support them.

A number of innovative products such as Atlases have been developed to improve visualization of the issues under analysis and presentation of policy options, including lessons learned from good practices.

Sub-regional reports, both integrated and thematic tend to draw from the regional ones and this serves to present data, information, knowledge and policy options at a relevant scale in order to aid the development and implementation of necessary interventions

National Assessments

Most countries in Africa have a constitutional and/or legal requirement to regularly report on the state of their environment.  Through a capacity development process, UNEP works with countries to enable them meet this reporting obligation.  Based on requests, teams of national experts are guided through the process of preparing, reporting and disseminating national State of Environment Reports (SOERs). These are integrated in nature and the resulting publications are owned by the countries themselves.  In a limited number of cases, UNEP assists national urban authorities and other partners to prepare city environment assessment reports.

At global level, UNEP publishes the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) to provide comprehensive, science-based, policy-relevant information on the current state and future prospects of the global environment and its interactions with human well-being. The next regional GEO will be published in 2016.