Today, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) met with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which enables collaboration on science-based solutions to global environmental challenges, including the sustainable management of nutrients, water quality, ecosystem restoration, biodiversity and clean air.

This new framework for cooperation and understanding between the two organisations will facilitate partnership working to further shared goals and objectives. 

In particular, the two organisations will focus on further developing collaborations on global nitrogen and phosphorus management initiatives including: through existing collaboration on the Global Partnership on Nutrient Management, the Global Environment Facility funded International Nitrogen Management System project, the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) South Asian Nitrogen Hub, and the implementation of the UNEA Resolutions 4/14 and 5/12 on Sustainable Nitrogen Management, with reference to reducing nitrogen and phosphorus waste. 

The collaboration will also support the promotion of enhanced environmental management.  By building capacity in less developed economies reliant on the world’s most threatened ecosystems it will contribute to: the UNEP coordinated World Water Quality Alliance (WWQA), the Global Environmental Monitoring System for freshwater (GEMS/Water), the Global Environmental Monitoring System for Air (GEMS/Air), the Global Plan of Action on Forest Genetic Resources, the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, and to activities relating to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). 

New areas of collaboration will also be developed, including supporting global assessments of water quality and air pollution, and on the identification of management options designed to halt and reverse ecosystems degradation, including the use of Nature-based Solutions.

The MOU was signed by Dr Jian Liu, Director, Science Division, UNEP, and Professor Mark Bailey, UKCEH Executive Director. Today, Professor Bailey met with Dr Hartwig Kremer, Head of UNEP’s Global Environment Monitoring Unit at UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss the implementation of the new partnership.

Professor Mark Bailey, UKCEH, said: “We look forward to collaborating further with UNEP on activities that help to tackle major global environmental challenges. Our shared goal is to build global capacity in the detection of environmental change and its impacts on freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, focussing on less developed countries where societal impacts of ecosystem degradation are felt most strongly.” 

Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, said: “I don’t need to tell you that the global water challenge we face is one of epic proportions – that of quality, of quantity, of equity, of climate, of peace, AND of human dignity and suffering.  The most recent SDG monitoring cycle revealed that over 3 billion people are at risk because they don’t know enough about the health of surface and groundwater resources. This is exactly what the World Water Quality Alliance aims to better understand through the World Water Quality Assessment to be released in 2023 and through implementation of other workstreams such as capacity building.”


Further information: 

UKCEH has been collaborating with UNEP on various projects, including: 
•    Resolution on sustainable nitrogen management
•    The World Water Quality Alliance (WWQA)
•    Towards the Establishment of an International Nitrogen Management System (INMS)
•    Global Partnership on Nutrient Management (GPNM)
•    The global phosphorus challenge
•    UKRI GCRF South Asian Nitrogen Hub
•    The UN Sustainable Development Goals
•    The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration
•    Sustainable Phosphorus Management in Lakes: Global Case Studies
•    The Global Environment Monitoring System for Freshwater