Press releases

Monday 27 Apr 2009

University of Geneva and UNEP to Coordinate European project to Boost Lives and Livelihoods of 160 Million People

Geneva, 27 April 2009 - A state-of-the art monitoring and assessment system is to be deployed for the Black Sea, it was announced today.

The system is aimed at assisting governments and communities track and respond to environmental trends in one of the world’s most famous and economically-important inland water bodies.

The around $8 million Euros enviroGRIDS project, to which the European Commission is contributing $6.2 million Euros, will utilize a big international computer-grid network linked through the famous CERN centre in Switzerland to carry out simulations.

The project will deploy the latest observation and environmental assessment technologies across the Black Sea catchment—a region covering about 2 million km 2, 23 countries and more than 160 million people.

It is to be coordinated by the University of Geneva and UNEP in cooperation with 26 national and international partners.

These include the Institute for Water Education of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in the Netherlands as well as the water institutes of several countries--Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Switzerland and Ukraine.

The partners in the project will provide new data to the planet-wide Group on Earth Observations (GEO) under the supervision of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the Black Sea Commission.

Anthony Lehmann and Nicolas Ray, from the Environmental Science Institute of UNIGE which is leading enviroGRIDS, said areas of focus included monitoring and assessing trends in climate change, habitats and ecosystems and water quality and their likely impacts on the economic and social lives of the Black Sea region.

Christophe Bouvier, UNEP’s Regional Director for Europe, said: “The environmental vulnerability of the Black Sea region in terms of pollution, industrial impacts, unsustainable agriculture and oil spills is well known. The new system is aimed at assisting the countries concerned make sound and scientifically-based decisions on the region’s future, sustainable development”.

He said the project is taking a new significance within the European context as a result of the recent accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union.

Notes to Editors
The launch of the project will take place at a meeting of the partners in Geneva between 27 and 30 April at the University of Geneva, UNEP’s International Environment House and the international secretariat of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

Several pilot projects will be carried out on 9 themes supported by the GEO: disasters, health, energy, climate, water, weather, ecosystems, agriculture and biodiversity.

Synergies with the European project ACQWA coordinated by Prof. Martin Beniston from UNIGE are expected. ACQWA aims at better understanding climate change impacts on water resources in mountainous regions.

These two projects contribute to the capacity of the Environmental Science Institute of the UNIGE to act as a platform for international research.

To learn more about the enviroGRIDS project, please visit: www.envirogrids.net

For further information please contact:
Anthony Lehmann, University of Geneva, Project coordinator, at mobile: +41 79 815 46 17, or email: anthony.lehmann@unige.ch; or Nicolas Ray, University of Geneva, Project Manager, at mobile: +41 78 909 65 32, or email: nicolas.ray@unige.ch

Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, at tel: +254 20 762 3084, mobile: +254 733 632755, or e-mail: nick.nuttall@unep.org; or Anne-France White, Associate Information Officer, at tel: +254 20 762 3088, Mobile: +254 (0)728 600 494, or e-mail: anne-france.white@unep.org

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E-mail: presse@unige.ch, www.unige.ch/presse

Monday 27 Apr 2009
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