UNEP Renews Commitment with Major Partner GRID-Arendal on its 25th Anniversary vr, aug 15, 2014

Left to right: Tine Sundtoft, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway; UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner; Chairman of the Board of GRID-Arendal Olav Orheim.

Arendal, Norway, 14 August 2014 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and its collaborating centre GRID-Arendal today signed a new Framework Agreement through which the Norwegian foundation agreed to renew its cooperation with UNEP on projects ranging from the polar regions to the marine environment.

The new agreement, which came as GRID-Arendal celebrated its 25th anniversary, was signed by UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner and Olav Orheim, Chairman of the Board of Directors of GRID-Arendal. It took place among a number of workshops, seminars and report launches, which will be held today and tomorrow to celebrate the milestone anniversary.

"GRID-Arendal has been, and continues to be, a staunch partner to UNEP and a great defender of the environment," said Mr. Steiner.

"From its unique knowledge of polar issues, to its Rapid Assessment Reports, which compile data on some of the planet's most urgent problems, to its capacity to contribute to addressing issues such as ocean conservation and a transition to a Green Economy, GRID-Arendal's work represents a major contribution to tackling the world's environmental challenges," he added.

"The cooperation between UNEP and GRID-Arendal has matured greatly since its establishment 25 years ago," said Mr. Orheim. "This new agreement underscores the value of this cooperation. For GRID-Arendal, it is particularly important that UNEP recognizes GRID-Arendal's contribution in the area of the polar regions, the marine environment, communications and outreach, environmental assessments and capacity building in developing states."

"We are proud that both UNEP and the Government of Norway regard GRID-Arendal as an effective organization that supports the UN system through its environment programme, UNEP," said Peter Prokosch, Managing Director of GRID-Arendal.

Also present at the singing ceremony were Tine Sundtoft, Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Øystein Djupedal, Aust-Agder County Governor, and Einar Halvorsen, Mayor of Arendal.

GRID-Arendal was established in 1989 by the Norwegian Ministry of Environment and UNEP in response to the recommendations of the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. With continued support from Norway, the foundation underscores the Norwegian government's commitment to the global environment, and complements the country's direct support to UNEP.

Since its establishment, the foundation has supported UNEP by providing environmental information, communications and capacity building services to strengthen environmental management capacity and to motivate decision makers to act.

The new Framework Agreement acknowledges the long-standing contribution of GRID-Arendal in these areas. It references UNEP's role in monitoring and assessing the state of the environment and providing "early warning of impending environmental challenges and threats" on behalf of the UN system, and provides for closer involvement of UNEP leadership in the design of GRID-Arendal's programme of work.

One key activity throughout GRID-Arendal's 25-year history has been its undertaking of Rapid Response Assessments - missions to gather data on pressing issues facing the global environment. A Rapid Response team is composed of experts selected on the basis of their knowledge and expertise around a particular environmental challenge. Work is undertaken using the latest scientific, modelling and satellite information together with direct field investigations.

The assessments result in special reports, which are delivered within weeks or months depending on the issue and task involved.

Some well-known recent Rapid Assessment Reports include The Environmental Crime Crisis (2014), which found that militia and terrorist groups are often funded in part by the illegal trafficking in wildlife; Elephants in the Dust (2013), which detailed the growing crisis of increased African elephant poaching levels and loss of habitat; and Stolen Apes (2013), which discussed the illegal trade in Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Bonobos and Orangutans.

For more information, contact: UNEP News Desk, unepnewsdesk@unep.org

 
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