About the Book

Inger Andersen_edited
Koffi Annan and Maria Ivanova
Ban Ki-moon and Maria Ivanova
Global Environmental Governance Forum with all UNEP directors 2009 in Glion, Swtizerland
Erik Solheim and Maria Ivanova
Amina J. Mohammed and Maria Ivanova
Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Maria Ivanova
Mostafa Tolba and Maria Ivanova
Achim Steiner and Maria Ivanova

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) was founded in 1972 as a nimble, fast, and flexible entity at the core of the UN system—a subsidiary body rather than a specialized agency. It was intended to be the world's environmental conscience, an anchor institution that established norms and researched policy, leaving it to other organizations to carry out its recommendations. In this book, Maria Ivanova offers a detailed account of UNEP's origin and history and a vision for its future. Ivanova counters the common criticism that UNEP was deficient by design, arguing that UNEP has in fact delivered on much (though not all) of its mandate. 

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Drawing on extensive interviews she conducted with UNEP's past and present leadership and staff and two former UN Secretaries-General, Ivanova provides rare insight into the organization's functioning. Through this diverse cast of characters, she shows that UNEP was able to resolve problems and launch important processes when its internal finances were solid and it enjoyed external political support. Its failures and limitations came when the environment slipped as a priority, leadership faltered, and connectivity was challenged. UNEP's fiftieth anniversary, Ivanova argues, presents an opportunity for a reinvention of the global reach of the organization. She envisions a future UNEP that is the go-to institution for information on the state of the planet, a normative vision of global environmental governance, and support for domestic environmental agendas.