Global Environment Outlook 5 Environment for the future we want


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Global
Country or countries covered
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

To address the current state of knowledge regarding the environmental challenges and emerging issues relating to biodiversity, freshwater, coastal and marine areas, forests, land, desertification, mountain areas, urban areas, polar areas, the atmosphere, disturbed biogeochemical cycles, chemicals, waste, and natural and human-induced hazards and conflicts, including issues of peace and security; and to address the drivers of environmental change and alterations in environmental services, how they affect human well-being and prosperity, and the groups, ecosystems and geographical areas that are vulnerable to change.

Mandate for the assessment

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Global Environment Outlook (GEO)

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Mountain
  • Dryland
  • Polar
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Water


Supporting Services/Functions

Cultural Services

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started

Pre 2000

Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish

Periodicity of assessment


If repeated, how frequently

Every three years for the first three reports, and every five years for subsquent reports.

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

Stakeholder involvement in the GEO assessment process is at many levels, involving Governments, research organizations, academic institutions, civil society, the private sector, young people and individual experts. GEO is a consultative, participatory, capacity-building process for global environmental assessment and reporting on the state of the environment, trends and future outlook. A worldwide network of collaborating centres forms a strong assessment partnership at the core of the process and a focus for building capacity at various levels. More than 40 organizations take part in GEO assessments at the global level, and many more participate at the subglobal level. Advisory groups provide guidance on conceptual approaches and methodology development and capacity-building. At the subglobal level, the GEO process has been replicated to undertake many regional, subregional, national and subnational assessments. South-South and North-South cooperation has been strengthened, with individual experts and institutions supporting processes in other regions. By its resolution 64/204 of 21 December 2009, the General Assembly highlighted the importance of building on the experiences gained from the preparation of global environmental assessments.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process


Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

Regarding data used, the development and use of data and information in the GEO assessment process is closely linked to the overall UNEP data and information strategy implementation. It also includes establishing and strengthening cooperation with new and existing data providers, and draws on the various assessments being produced throughout the United Nations system. Promoting the active participation of developing-country experts and expanding GEO data facilities in developing regions is an important component of the activity. This process is underpinned by a dedicated, interactive online data system, the GEO data portal.9 This participatory and consultative process gives GEO assessments scientific credibility, accuracy and authority, targeting a wide audience by providing information to support environmental management and policy development. The GEO data portal is upgraded continuously, and now also includes indicators on human well-being in relation to environmental change. The GEO Data Expert Working Group supports the GEO data component in the production of GEO-4 and other regional reports with the main focus on applicable data tools, strengthening data capacities in developing regions, filling existing and identifying emerging data gaps, and improving data quality assurance and control.

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

The policy impact of GEO-4 has been significant, with both the General Assembly and the UNEP Governing Council taking decisions on the basis of its findings. The findings informed the development and subsequent adoption by the General Assembly and the Governing Council of the UNEP medium-term strategy 2010–2013. The report was also used extensively in the preparation of the official reports of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its sixteenth and seventeenth sessions. In addition, the GEO-4 summary for decision makers has been translated into at least 10 languages, including Czech, Japanese and Korean. In terms of public impact, GEO-4 recorded more than 1 million internet downloads in the first six months following its release in October 2007. It also spawned thousands of websites and links, including blogs. Some GEO-4 outreach materials, including television documentaries and interviews with prominent personalities, were available on the YouTube website. It has also been published as an e-book. GEO is now one of the most recognized global environmental assessments, establishing UNEP as a leader in integrated environmental assessment and reporting and highlighting both environment and development issues. The GEO process has also produced technical reports, manuals and GEO educational materials, the GEO data portal, meeting reports, capacity-building materials and associated products responding to specific user needs. Over the past decade, regional ministerial environmental forums and local councils have adopted decisions on environment outlook reports to meet their environmental policy objectives.

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

Additional relevant information