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Swiss governement, UNEP and Geneva University sign partnership agreement on dissemination of environmental data

Geneva, 15 June 1998 - The Swiss Agency for the Environment, Forests and Landscape (BUWAL), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the University of Geneva have signed an agreement for the dissemination of environmental information for decision-making.

The three institutions have agreed on long-term support for the Geneva-based office of the Global Resource Information Database (GRID) which will improve the collection and dissemination of information on environmental conditions, provide early warning of environmental ‘hot spots’ and monitor the same as they develop.

Development of an environmental emergency response capacity and strengthening of early warning and information assessment functions is one of UNEP’s new areas of concentration. "A strong information, monitoring and assessment capability is a precondition for the development of environmental policy," said Mr. Klaus Toepfer, UNEP’s Executive Director. "The GRID centres are working examples of how to harness the opportunities presented by new communication technologies, and so provide goverments and other decison-makers with access to the environmental information they want and need. The Partnership announced today is a vital sign of Swiss and Genevan confidence in our institution", he said.

Mr. Philippe Roch, State Secretary and Director of BUWAL, stressed the importance of GRID-Geneva’s work in the field of environmental assessment and reporting. "UNEP provides policy leadership by assessing environmental change and identifying emerging issues of global significance," he said, "and GRID-Geneva is a major pillar for UNEP to fulfill this key function. One of our goals in establishing the Partnership is to reinforce activities and linkages which contribute to our vision of the ‘International/Green Geneva’. We are therefore interested in maintaining its excellent core services and expertise in environmental data technology."

The University of Geneva’s representative, the rector Mr. Bernard Fulpius, mentioned that signing of the Agreement amounted to the formalisation of a close and long-standing collaboration between UNEP and the University, which brought mutual benefits to both partners.
Not only does our relationship with UNEP/GRID provide a window on the world and international agencies for the University, but it offers a superb training ground for post-graduate students and a fertile source of young and enthusiastic analysts and researchers for GRID-Geneva. At the same time, the exchange of ideas and technology applications between GRID and the University helps both partners keep up-to-date and constantly refreshes our approaches and thinking to environmental data and information provision."

While GRID-Geneva has been in operation since 1985 and remains one of the two original GRID centres, the partnership announced today is unique. It represents the first formal agreement between UNEP, a federal agency and a local institutions to support the global GRID network.


Note to journalists: Mr. K. Töpfer, Mr. P. Roch and Mr. B. Fulpius will hold a press conference on Monday, 15 June 1998, 11: 00 a.m., at the Palais des Nations, Room III.

For more information, please contact:
Gertrud Attar
tel. (41-22) 917-82-34, fax (41-22) 797-34-20,

Note to Editors:

GRID-Geneva is part of the global GRID network of centres for environmental data and information management, which UNEP has been developing since 1985. GRID centres typically have the expertise and information technology (computers, Internet/WWW access and software tools) to obtain, process and analyse environmental data, and produce value-added maps and other information products for decision-makers. At the same time, GRID centres also act as a reference service focussing on environmental data and information held by other international agencies, national governments, the global academic and research community and other partners, via electronic data catalogs.

The GRID network consists of 15 centres world-wide. Four centres (Bangkok, Geneva, Nairobi and Sioux Falls USA) have a UNEP staff presence. GRID-Arendal is operated as a private foundation supported by the Norwegian government, while other European centres include GRID-Budapest, GRID-Esbjerg (in Denmark), GRID-Moscow, GRID-Warsaw and the Blue Plan office of UNEP’s Mediterranean Action Plan (MAP) in Sophia Antipolis, France. GRID offices elsewhere in the world include those at: the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espacias (INPE) at San Jose dos Campos, Brazil; the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS) in Ottawa; the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) in Tsukuba, Japan; the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Katmandu, Nepal; and the International Centre for Integrated Antarctic Research (ICAIR) in Christchurch, New Zealand.

UNEP News Release 1998/62

Monday 15 Jun 1998
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