UNEP opens Global Biodiversity Information and Assessment Centre in UK

The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) in Cambridge, UK, joins the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as its global biodiversity information and assessment centre on 3 July.


In his video address to the ceremony, the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, tells WCMC that, “As part of the UN Environment Programme, you will help the world community confront one of its most daunting challenges: protecting the Earth’s precious biodiversity. We may be at the dawn of a new millennium, but the environmental problems we face are painfully familiar. They may even be getting worse.”

UNEP, the global environmental authority, has as one of its core functions within the UN system the responsibility for assessment and information on all aspects of the natural environment. As an integral part of UNEP, WCMC will assess the health of species and ecosystems, and threats to their survival. The Centre will also help nations to create their own biodiversity information systems, enabling them to develop science-based policy and regulations for the environment.

“The impact of poverty in developing countries and of unsustainable consumption levels in industrialized countries is leading to the widespread loss of Earth’s biodiversity,” said Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director. “Overall, ecosystems and species populations have declined by 30% in the past 30 years and the trend is continuing.”

“We must urgently address the threats to biodiversity. Accurate, accessible scientific-based information is a pre-requisite for informed decision-making,” explains Mark Collins, the Centre’s UNEP Director. “WCMC is ideally placed to make a major contribution to the worlds understanding of our precious living resources.”

The transition of WCMC to a UNEP Centre has been achieved by retaining its close links with the non-governmental community, while at the same time building important new partnerships with the private sector and governments. In particular, WCMC’s transition has been achieved with the active political and financial support of the UK Government.

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