Our Environment: Part 2, Goverments, Laws, and Organizations

Article excerpt

[This article continues the cover story article that appeared in the September 2002, issue of Searcher magazine-"Our Environment: Part 1, General Sources." The Prolific Ms. Keiser will have more to say about the research side of environmental developments in Part 3 -bq]

International organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and governmental agencies provide vast resources of environmental information, documentation, publications, research, statistics, and databases.

The most logical starting point is the United Nations Environmental Programme [http://www.un.org./partners/civil_society/m-envir.htm], but you should also consult other agencies within the U.N. system for data, reports, and other publications. Searching the U.N. can get complicated. For example, do not confuse the United Nations Environment Programme Web site [http://www.unep.org] with that of UNEP Programmes in Geneva [http:// www.unep.ch].

The Official Web Site Locator for the United Nations System of Organizations [http://www.unsystem.org/] provides both an alphabetical and thematic index, plus a U.N. System chart and, most importantly, links to U.N. information centers. The following United Nations Web sites carry significant sections devoted to environmental issues, with particular emphasis on the long-term effects on poorer developing nations of ineffective environmental policies.

* Earth Watch [http://earthwatch.unep.net/] offers a database searchable by environmental issues (from agriculture to toxic chemicals) and regions. Introduced in 1973 "as a means of coordinating and acting as a catalyst for all environmental monitoring and assessment activities throughout the entire U.N. system. The raison d'etre was and remains to provide "integrated" information gathered from across the U.N. system relevant for policymaking by building essential partnerships across the U.N. system with the scientific community, governments, and NGOs."

* The UNEP Chemicals Web site [http://irptc.unep.ch] "is the center for all chemicals-related activities of the United Nations Environment Programme." Its goal "is to make the world a safer place from toxic chemicals." It does this "by helping governments take needed global actions for the sound management of chemicals, by promoting the exchange of information on chemicals, and by helping to build the capacities of countries around the world to use chemicals safely"

* The navigation bar on the left-hand side of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's home page [http://www.unece.org/] links to a variety of departments, programs, Web pages, and documents concerned with various aspects of the environment.

* The United Nations Development Programme--Environment and Sustainable Energy [http://www.undp.org/energy/index.html] details projects undertaken by the U.N. "in building national capacity for environmentally sustainable development by promoting global best practices and supporting strategic interventions." These efforts include dealing with water contamination, land degradation, air pollution, climate change, and clean, affordable energy, in particular for the poorest of nations.

* United Nations Sustainable Development Web site [http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/index.html] outlines the work of the Commission for Sustainable Development Small Islands and Forests are two of the Commission's targets.

* "Agenda 21 [http://www.un.org/esa/agenda2l/natlinfo/index/html] is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups."

The World Bank has an entire department devoted to the environment [http://www.worldbank.org/environment], but other sections of the World Bank Web site also provide information on environmental resources and publications. The environment is one of the major sectors that demonstrate the Bank's efforts to incorporate sustainabiity into its activities. …