The UN has entered into a partnership with Google to monitor the impacts of human activity on global ecosystems by using sophisticated online tools. The aim of the partnership is to develop a platform to enable governments, NGO’s and the public to track specific environment-related development targets with a user-friendly Google front-end, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a statement on 16 July.
It has its initial focus on freshwater ecosystems including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers, and lakes.
These areas account for 0.01% of the world’s water but provide habitat for almost 10% of the world’s known species and evidence suggests a rapid loss of freshwater biodiversity.
Google will periodically produce geospatial maps and data on water-related ecosystems by employing massive parallel Cloud computing technology.
Satellite imagery and statistics will be generated to assess the extent of change occurring to waterbodies and made freely accessible to ensure nations have the opportunity to track changes, prevent and reverse ecosystem loss.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is an agency of the United Nations and coordinates its environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded by Maurice Strong, its first director, as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference) in June 1972 and has its headquarters in the Gigiri neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya.
UNEP has overall responsibility for environmental problems among United Nations agencies but talks on addressing global warming are overseen by the Bonn-based Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, environmental governance and green economy.
UNEP has also been active in funding and implementing environment related development projects.
The World Meteorological Organization and UNEP established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. UNEP is also one of several Implementing Agencies for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol, and it is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.
The International Cyanide Management Code, a program of best practice for the chemical’s use at gold mining operations, was developed under UNEP’s aegis.