Strengthening environmental governance

In Environmental rights and governance

Building Blocks for Better Environmental Governance

Environmental governance is about policy, rules and norms, institutions, procedures and financing mechanisms. It addresses who makes decisions, how decisions are made and carried out, the scientific information needed for decision-making, how the public and major stakeholders can participate in the decision-making, the kind of information that should be available and how processes and systems are reviewed.

While there has been significant progress in the last decade in the development of environmental institutions and legislation in Asia Pacific, the region's burgeoning economic growth and growing population have taken a toll on its natural resource base and the environment. This is largely attributed to the region's weak environmental governance, poor enforcement and lack of participatory planning and implementation.

In Asia Pacific, UNEP works with intergovernmental bodies, environment ministries, research organizations, UN agencies and civil society to identify and address common and transboundary issues. UNEP assists governments by providing information for environment management and decision-making, enhancing regional environmental cooperation, developing and applying national and international environmental law, advancing national and regional implementation of environmental objectives, and bridging major groups and governments in policy development and implementation processes.

To do this, UNEP:

  • Supports regional and sub-regional ministerial forums for policy exchange and priority-setting for key environmental issues;
  • Provides technical assistance to governments to enhance their capacity to strengthen and implement environmental law, and supports multilateral environmental agreements;
  • Supports the mainstreaming environmental sustainability in national development processes and UN common country programming processes;
  • Supports mainstreaming pro-poor environmental sustainability into poverty reduction through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-UNEP Poverty and Environment Initiative;
  • Promotes and supports sound science and policy advice for environmental decision-making;
  • Engages civil society and stakeholders in policy dialogue

UNEP works closely with a number of partners and collaborating centres to improve access in West Asia to meaningful environmental data and information. It also seeks to increase the capacity of governments in the region to use environmental information for decision-making and action.

In implementing this mission in West Asia, UNEP focuses on the following areas:

  • Strengthening the scientific basis for decision-making by undertaking and supporting national, sub-regional and regional institutions in carrying out integrated environmental assessments and state of environment reporting.
  • Facilitating access to environmental data and information, and supporting indicator development and networking.
  • Early warning of emerging threats: timely identification and vulnerability assessment of emerging environmental threats.
  • Building and strengthening capacity at the regional and national levels on integrated environmental assessment, early warning and information systems.


The Global Environment Outlook (GEO) project is the implementation of UNEP's mandate to keep the global environment under review. Initiated at the request of the UNEP Governing Council in 1995, GEO is both a process and a series of reports, analysing environmental change, causes, impacts, and policy responses. It provides information for decision-making, supports early warning and builds capacity at the global and sub-global levels. GEO is also a communication process that aims at raising awareness on environmental issues and providing options for action. UNEP has published four volumes of the comprehensive Global Environment Outlook (GEO) report series: The fifth volume, GEO-5 will be released in June 2012.

Environment Outlook for the Arab Region (EOAR)

The Environment Outlook for the Arab Region (EOAR) is the first official, comprehensive, and integrated assessment of the state of environment in the Arab region. It is a credible, scientific assessment that provides a base for policy formulation in the region. The report was prepared in response to a decision by the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE), in its 17th session, held at the headquarters of the Secretariat-General of the League of Arab States, in Cairo, Egypt, in December 2005.

Arab Region: Atlas of Our Changing Environment

The Arab Region: Atlas of Our Changing Environment is a unique and powerful publication which brings to light stories of environmental change at more than 80 locations spread across the Arab region. Using a combination of ground photographs, current and historical satellite images, and narrative based on extensive scientific evidence, the atlas illustrates how humans have altered their surroundings and continue to make observable and measurable changes to the Arab region and its environment.

Vulnerability Assessment of Freshwater in West Asia

The project is a national and regional vulnerability assessment that will contribute to a better understanding of freshwater resources vulnerability to threats and its impacts on development options, human well-being and the environment. It identifies the potential impacts of climate change on water resources in the region and assesses the current adaptive capacity of the water sector. It also provides decision makers with strategic responses and policy options to improve water resource management including adaptation measures.

Core Set of Sustainable Development Indicators for the Arab Region

The Core Set of Sustainable Development Indicators provides guidelines for the development and use of environmental indicators for the Arab region. It presents a core set of priority environmental indicators addressing three priority themes in the region - freshwater resources, land resources and coastal and marine environment. Additionally the report presents other WSSD-WEHAB priority themes, including energy, biodiversity, health and environment.

GEO Cities Manual/Guidelines for Integrated Environmental Assessment of Urban Areas

The GEO Cities Manual/Guidelines for Integrated Environmental Assessment of Urban Areas is an integral part of the GEO process. The manual provides a step-by-step approach to the GEO Cities methodology and the IEA process in order to build capacity in the Arab Region for integrated environmental assessment and reporting at city and local levels.

Key Partners

Collaborating Centres:


In Environmental rights and governance