Our Planet 9.3 News

Our Planet News


Elizabeth Dowdeswell, UNEP's Executive Director, paid an official visit to the Seychelles to preside over the inauguration of the Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) of the Eastern African Regional Seas Programme on St. Anne Island.

The RCU is the culmination of efforts by nations in the East Africa region to find a way to manage their common heritage in a sustainable manner. It provides a framework for cooperation on issues related to the sustainable use and management of marine and coastal resources. In addition to regional projects, the RCU also aims to promote international initiatives for the protection of coral reefs and the protection of the marine environment from land-originating pollution, among others.

The establishment of the RCU in the Seychelles is the result of the coming into force last year of the Nairobi Convention of the Eastern African Regional Seas Programme which has adopted an integrated, results-oriented approach to combating problems of the marine environment of the East African Coast.



A special session of the coordination segment of the Economic and Social Council on Maintaining a Gender Perspective in all policies and programmes of the United Nations system took place in Geneva in July.

UNEP's Executive Director, in her address to the session, highlighted the need to foster and encourage the ability of women to contribute to effective environmental management, and delineated the progress UNEP had made in strategically addressing issues related to gender and equity announced at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. UNEP's strategy is based on 10 specific commitments to meet the global priorities for the advancement of women by the year 2000. Foremost among those commitments are: the need to incorporate women's concerns into UNEP's policies, programmes and projects; adjusting recruitment policies to recognize the special constraints that women face and to create a favourable environment for their recruitment; assessing managers' willingness to meet gender criteria in performance appraisals; ensuring participation by women and also ensuring that gender concerns are reflected in policy development work.


A new edition of UNEP's World Atlas of Desertification, published in September 1997, is now available (£145) through: SMI (Distribution Services) Limited, P.O. Box 119, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 4TP, UK. Fax: +44 1438 748884.

This second edition is thoroughly revised and twice the size of its 1992 predecessor. It reflects major advances in our understanding of desertification and clearly demonstrates that desertification is accelerating to become one of the world's most pressing environmental problems. This edition covers poverty and food security, climate change and the availability of water, and contains the latest information on population movements which result from, and lead to, desertification. Representing in graphic form the current state of our understanding of the issue, as well as its extent and possible solutions, the Atlas includes a wide range of case studies and will become the key reference book for all concerned with dryland problems.


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) regional seminar on Sport and Environment was held in July in Christ Church, Barbados. The seminar focused its discussions on strengthening partnerships between institutions to promote environmental protection during sports events. The participants, staff members of the National Olympic Committees of the Caribbean region, representatives of non-governmental organizations and representatives of international organizations dealing with environmental protection activities reaffirmed the need for working jointly with the IOC National Olympic Committees and UNEP. The meeting also recommended that a special edition of Tierramérica (UNEP's regional newspaper supplement dedicated to environmental issues) on sport and the environment be published with the participation of relevant sports winners in the region.

man on bike


The Forum on Environment in Kenya in July, hosted by UNEP's Regional Office for Africa, took note of the report of the Working Group on implementation and enforcement of the Traffic Act (Vehicular Pollution) and recommended that the Sub-Groups should meet to discuss further the recommendations of the Working Group. These included: a review of the Traffic Act; revitalization of vehicle inspection centres and acquiring necessary equipment for measuring invisible emissions; and enhancement of public awareness on vehicular pollution. The next item on the agenda for the Forum will be Waste Disposal Management.


The Government of Norway confirmed its intention to jointly fund with UNEP a UNEPnet/Mercure Implementation Centre in Arendal, Norway. The Norwegian Mercure station is one of a series of satellite earth stations around the globe which will facilitate a dedicated environmental information network.

- The Nairobi Mercure station is now fully installed and capable of operating.

- The German Space Agency (DLR) provided staff and expertise to install the CILS information locator system in Nairobi during August. UNEP has been collaborating with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites to bring about the completion of this task.

- The Mercure configuration for full Internet service is being tested and proceeding under extra-budgetary funding from the Mercure Board.

Barbara Pyle


The Sasakawa prize for 1997 has been awarded to Barbara Pyle, Environment Editor of CNN, the United States news television channel, for her efforts over more than 20 years to make environmental issues understandable and accessible to the widest possible audience. Barbara Pyle is also Vice President of Environmental Policy of Turner Broadcasting System. As a writer, and as producer and director of numerous television programmes, she has taken the debate about sustainable development to the public at large. She was the originator, for example, of CNN's daily environmental news feature, Earth Matters.

Barbara Pyle's films have won more than 75 awards and her work has been seen by approximately 2 billion people worldwide. She has also created environmental programmes for children, including a cartoon adventure series called Captain Planet and the Planeteers.

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