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  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 07, Feb 2022
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The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022.

About UNEP:

Founded in 1972 following the landmark UN Conference on the Human Environment.

UNEP was conceived to monitor the state of the environment, inform policy making with science and coordinate responses to the world’s environmental challenges.

  • Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.
  • Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life.


  • Since its creation, UNEP has worked closely with its 193 Member States and other stakeholders to galvanize worldwide commitments and coordinated action to address many of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.
  • It also played a leading role as the docking station for 15 multilateral environmental agreements.

Key milestones and timeline:

  • 1972: Maurice Strong is elected as first head of UNEP.
  • 1973: UNEP opens first headquarters. On 2 October at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
  • 1973: Leaders sign Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships Known as
  • 1973: States adopt the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES became a UNEP-administered multilateral environmental agreement in 1984.
  • 1974: World Environment Day makes its debut. The world celebrates the first World Environment Day organized by UNEP on 5 June under the theme “Only One Earth.”
  • 1974: Regional Seas Programme established.
  • 1976: The Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea Against Pollution (Barcelona Convention) was adopted on 16 February 1976 in Barcelona and entered into force in 1978.
  • 1979: States adopt Convention on Migratory Species. Also known as the Bonn Convention. 

UNEP hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies. These include the following:

  1. The Convention on Biological Diversity
  2. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
  3. The Minamata Convention on Mercury
  4. The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions
  5. The Vienna Convention for the Protection of Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol
  6. The Convention on Migratory Species
  7. The Carpathian Convention
  8. The Bamako Convention
  9. The Tehran Convention