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UNEP and UNFPA sign agreement on strengthening cooperation

Nairobi/New York, 12 April 1999 - The heads of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding last Friday in Geneva aimed at strengthening cooperation between the two programmes in areas fundamental to the attainment of sustainable development.

Signed by the Executive Directors of both organizations, Mr. Klaus Toepfer for UNEP and Dr. Nafis Sadik for UNFPA, the agreement is designed to address issues dealing with the relationship between population, natural resources and the environment, and human well-being.

With the global population reaching 6 billion by October 1999, and the continued stress on the planet's carrying capacity, from unsustainable consumption patterns, rural-urban migration and rapid urbanization, it is incumbent upon the UN's two principal programmes in these fields to collaborate and reinforce each other's activities. The areas of cooperation covered by the Agreement fall under three broad categories, namely: technical guidance and research; advocacy, public awareness, education and training; and strengthened coordination within the various UN inter-agency mechanisms.

In signing the Agreement, Toepfer remarked: "A stabilized population is increasingly seen as an essential ingredient of environmental sustainability at local, national and global levels. Similarly, balanced patterns of consumption and production, which foster sustainable resource use and prevent environmental degradation are seen as key elements of an integrated approach to achieving societies' population and development goals. This new Agreement will help UNEP and UNFPA better understand the complexities of the issues involved and thus facilitate the search for solutions."

Dr. Sadik said: "It is imperative that a holistic approach be undertaken to address complex global challenges. The current growth and character of world population, the pressure on the environment and natural resources, whether on water, land, air or energy, demand our joint collaborative experiences and foresight. Building a better future for developed and developing nations alike calls for urgent action and worldwide participation. Our joint efforts will serve as a great outreach possibility for both our organizations to promote the development of new, sustainable policies for the future. Sustainability is key for population concerns as it is for environmental concerns. The future of this planet earth and its people depend on the decisions we make today; population and environmental issues are interdependent and must be resolved as such."

The Agreement will serve not only as a joint commitment for cooperation in support of the respective and complementary missions of UNEP and UNFPA but also as the framework within which to develop specific cooperative initiatives for practical implementation at the field level. It also responds to the call from Governments for enhanced effectiveness and improved UN system-wide cooperation, building on the comparative advantage of both organizations.

UNEP is the principal environmental body within the UN system. It promotes international cooperation and provides policy guidance and coordination in the field of environment, a mission reaffirmed by Agenda 21 and strongly endorsed at UNEP's Governing Council session in February.

UNFPA is the lead UN body in the field of population. Its purpose is to build up, on an international basis, the knowledge and the capacity to respond to needs in the fields of population and reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health. UNFPA promotes awareness, both in developed and in developing countries, of the social, economic and environmental implications of national and international population challenges, in line with the Programme of Action adopted at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).


For further information, please contact:

Maaike Jansen
Programme Officer, UNEP
New Nork
Tel: (1-212) 963-8151

Ms. Corrie Shanahan
Senior Information Officer, UNFPA
New York
Tel: (1-212) 297-5023

In Nairobi, contact:
Tore J. Brevik,
UNEP Spokesman
on tel: (+254-2) 623292,


Robert Bisset
on tel: 623084, fax: 623692,

UNEP News Release 1999/26

Friday 16 Apr 1999
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