UNEP and Norway Sign Agreement on GRID-Arendal’s 25th Anniversary

UNEP GRID Arendal14 August 2014: On the occasion of GRID-Arendal's 25th anniversary, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director, Achim Steiner, and Olav Orheim, Chairman of the Board of Directors of GRID-Arendal, signed a Programme Cooperation Agreement in which Norway renewed its contribution to UNEP's Programme of Work for 2014. The Agreement includes a commitment of US$16 million to UNEP, including US$1 million to support action on marine plastic debris and microplastics and US$500,000 to improve fish food security in West Africa.

Steiner and Orheim signed the agreement in Arendal, Norway, as part of a two-day celebration of GRID-Arendal's 25th anniversary, which took place under the theme, ‘Cold regions-Hot Topics: Inputs from Arendal to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).' The celebration included report launches, seminars and workshops.

Describing GRID-Arendal as “a great defender of the environment,” Steiner said GRID-Arendal's work represents a major contribution to tackling the world's environmental challenges, "from its unique knowledge of polar issues, to its Rapid Assessment Reports, which compile data on some of the planet's most urgent problems, to its capacity to contribute to addressing issues such as ocean conservation and a transition to a Green Economy.”

Orheim underscored "GRID-Arendal's contribution in the area of the polar regions, the marine environment, communications and outreach, environmental assessments and capacity building in developing states," under the new agreement.

The Framework Agreement recognizes GRID-Arendal's contribution to strengthening environmental management capacity by providing environmental information, communications and capacity building services. It notes UNEP's role in monitoring and assessing the environment and providing "early warning of impending environmental challenges and threats."

The agreement also supports action on emerging environmental issues, including food security and marine debris. The first UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) agreed on a resolution that calls for urgent action to address marine plastic debris and microplastics, including their impact on biodiversity, marine ecosystem and human health, and requests UNEP's Executive Director to, inter alia: support countries to develop and implement national or regional actions plans to reduce marine litter and to undertake a study on marine plastic debris and marine microplastics for consideration by UNEA's second session. Norway will support these actions through the Agreement as well as activities as part of its project to improve fish food security in West Africa with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

On the sidelines of the celebration, with Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende, and Norwegian Minister of Climate and Environment, Tine Sundtoft, Steiner discussed climate change issues as well as the UNEP Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System focused a green economic transition.

The Government of Norway established GRID-Arendal in 1989 to support the UN in the field of the environment. It serves as UNEP's Key Polar Centre and also focuses on the sustainable development of coasts and oceans. [UNEP Press Release on Cooperation Agreement] [UNEP Press Release on Marine Debris] [GRID-Arendal Press Release on 25th Anniversary] [IISD RS Coverage of UNEA] [IISD RS Story on FAO-Norway Collaboration on Marine Ecosystems]