Rio+20, 20 - 22 June 2012
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil


Emerging Issues

Rio20 About

In addition to the two overarching themes of Rio+20, UNEP is focusing its contribution to the preparatory process on Emerging Issues (EI) aimed at assessing the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation, as well as to address new and emerging challenges. To identify the most critical emerging issues, UNEP is drawing upon two separate areas of work, namely the preparation of the GEO-5 assessment and the Foresight Process. The goals of UNEP's input to Emerging Issues are:

  1. To assist the international community in identifying key emerging issues based on UNEP Foresight and GEO-5 Processes
  2. To assess the state, trends, outlook of the global environment and policy options that can help countries speed-up realization of internationally agreed goals.
  3. To help member states formulate the outcome text on emerging issues in Rio

Global Environmental Outlook

UNEP is preparing the next edition of its flagship global integrated environmental assessment, in consultation with governments, academia, research institutes, think tanks, NGOs and others. The final assessment report will be launched on 6 June 2012 as an input to the Rio+20 processes.

The GEO-5 process began in 2010 with UNEP convening an Intergovernmental and Multi-stakeholder consultation on GEO-5 to agree on the objectives, scope and process for GEO-5. This was followed by the nomination of experts and advisory groups, drafting of the assessment findings and government review and scientific peer review. The GEO-5  Summary for Policy Makers was negotiated and endorsed by governments in January 2012.

Within the framework of UNEP’s fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) reporting process, UNEP has prepared the report Keeping Track of Our Changing Environment: From Rio to Rio+20 (1992-2012). It complements the detailed information on the status and trends of the global environment and provides a graphical compilation of the environmental, social and economic changes that have swept the planet over the last twenty years.

For more information on GEO-5, please visit the website at

Foresight Process

The purpose of the UNEP Foresight Process is to produce, every two years, a careful and authoritative ranking of the most important emerging issues related to the global environment.

The Process involved lively debates about issues within a Foresight Panel of 21 distinguished scientists from around the world. The Panel looked at candidate issues from all sides, and challenged their importance and timeliness.

Starting with a list of more than 90 issues, a preliminary list of 21 issues were selected and subjected to further comment by an additional 428 scientists worldwide. The outcome of the Process, which was released at the opening of the 12th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, was a list of 21 emerging issues tagged "21 Issues for the 21 Century".

This outcome was used to provide input to the emerging issues theme of UNEP's submission to the UNCSD preparatory process.

For more information on the Foresight Process, please visit the website at