International Environmental Programs, Societies, and Conventions
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(BAHC) Biological Aspects of the Hydrological Cycle is an interdisciplinary project combining and integrating expertise from many disciplines, in particular ecophysiology, pedology, hydrology, and meteorology. BAHC in this respect has a transfer function across disciplines as well as across spatial scales. Its central question is: How does vegetation interact with the physical processes of the hydrological cycle? It is one of eleven Programme Elements of IGBP.

(CIESIN) Center for International Earth Science Information Network was established in 1989 as a non-profit, non-governmental organization to provide information that would help scientists, decision-makers, and the public better understand their changing world. CIESIN specializes in global and regional network development, science data management, decision support, and training, education and technical consultation services. CIESIN is the World Data Center A (WDC-A) for Human Interactions in the Environment.

DIVERSITAS was founded in 1991 and is the result of co-sponsorship by six international, natural sciences-based organizations: International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Council for Scientific Unions (ICSU), International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), and International Union of Microbiological Societies (IUMS). DIVERSITAS is self-described as the "only existing umbrella organization to coordinate a broad research effort in the biodiversity sciences at the global level composition, function, maintenance, conservation and sustainability of the Earth's ecosystems and biodiversity." It is also a main sponsor of the IBOY and GISP programs.

(FAO) Food and Agriculture Organization was founded in October 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations. Today, FAO is the largest autonomous agency within the United Nations system with 180 Member Nations. FAO was one of four UN bodies to create the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS). GTOS aims at improving the quality and coverage of terrestrial ecosystem data, and integrating them into a worldwide knowledge base that will help us manage our planet wisely for future generations.

(GAIM) Global Analysis, Interpretation and Modeling develops diagnostic models of the biogeochemical processes, in collaboration with modeling groups of the WCRP, to better understand the interrelation of global processes. The primary focus of GAIM at this time is the "global carbon cycle and the interaction between climate and terrestrial ecosystems at regional levels." It is sponsored by the IGBP.

(GCOS) Global Climate Observing System is one of three permanent global observing systems, established in 1992 by four United Nations bodies (UNESCO, WMO, UNEP and ICSU), that provides accessible and standardized databases and information for scientists and policy-makers. GCOS does not directly make observations or acquire data, but supports the observation, acquisition and availability of information about climate processes. The internal structure of the GCOS includes a number of joint scientific panels, sponsored by GCOS and other climate related organizations. The Atmospheric Observation Panel for Climate (AOPC), the Ocean Observation Panel for Climate (OOPC), and the Terrestrial Observation Panel for Climate (TOPC) identify and propose specific areas of atmospheric research based on their unique positions of expertise.

(GCTE) Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems is working toward an understanding of the effects of climate, atmospheric and land use changes. GCTE examines these effects at long-term research sites and through models constructed in collaboration with the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS). GCTE is sponsored by the IGBP.

(GEF) Global Environmental Facility was formed in 1991 as an international alliance, funded in part by the World Bank, to address four areas of critical importance to the global environment: biodiversity loss, climate change, ozone depletion, and degradation of international waters. Although the GEF was originally founded as an experimental facility, it was restructured after the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to serve the environmental interests of the global population; as of October 1, 1999 the GEF had a total of 166 participating nations. The GEF provides research grants to twelve "operating programs" within the four focal areas. Criteria for project acceptance include addressing regional and national priorities, support of the nation or nations involved and improving or lessening risks to the global environment. Within the biodiversity category are programs that investigate arid, semi-arid, coastal, marine, freshwater, forest, and mountain ecosystems. GEF is one of several organizations that help coordinate and fund the Global Invasive Species Program (GISP). Climate change operating programs focus on renewable, efficient energy and environmentally sustainable transport. GEF programs are established, developed, and evaluated by a consensus decision made by the GEF Council.

(GISP), Global Invasive Species Programme an initiative of DIVERSITAS, is coordinated and funded by several international organizations including IUCN, SCOPE, GEF, UNESCO, and UNEP. The aim of the GISP is to, "prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species that threaten ecosystem, habitats, or species" as stated in Article 8 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Adverse global impacts on ecosystems, economy, and human health resulting from invasive plant and animal species continue to increase in scale and severity as international trade and travel increase. GISP has focused its efforts on each region of the world and has enlisted aid from local ecological and environmental agencies in monitoring and controlling invasive species. Within the United States there are several governmental and non-governmental organizations and agencies dedicated to the control and eradication of invasives, among these are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Invasive Species Program, the Federal Interagency Committee for the Management of Noxious and Exotic Weeds, the Weed Science Society of America, and the Nature Conservancy Wildland Invasive Species Programme.

(GLOBEC) Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics project examines the responses of global ocean ecosystem and related oceanic subsystems to global change. It is sponsored by the IGBP.

(GOOS) Global Ocean Observing Systems is one of three permanent observing systems, established in 1992 by four United Nations bodies (UNESCO, WMO, UNEP and ICSU) that provides accessible and standardized databases and information for scientists and policy-makers. GOOS acquires, analyzes and distributes data and information pertaining to oceanographic observations. The objectives of GOOS are to provide a comprehensive oceanographic observation and information database to be used by researchers and policy-makers. Another goal of GOOS is to develop and implement a standardized method of gathering and providing data.

(GTOS) Global Terrestrial Observing System is one of three permanent global observing systems, established in 1992 by five United Nations bodies (FAO, UNESCO, WMO, UNEP and ICSU), that provides accessible and standardized databases and information for scientists and policy-makers. GTOS provides a resource for developed and developing nations to understand terrestrial ecosystems and make sustainable decisions regarding natural resource and land use management. GTOS manages a network of sites dedicated to the observation of specific ecosystems. These networks include GTN-E, an ecological umbrella for observational sites such as International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER); GTN-G monitors and provides information about glaciers, and GTN-H monitors hydrological processes with particular emphasis placed on those with climate applications.

(IBOY) International Biodiversity Observation Year 2001-2002 is an initiative of DIVERSITAS to promote global awareness and appreciation of biodiversity. IBOY will officially begin on December 29, 2000, decreed by the United Nations as an international "Day of Biological Diversity." The goals of IBOY are to promote biodiversity science, and educate the global populace about biodiversity and the consequences of its decline. IBOY will consist of international projects, funded and produced by diverse organizations, that spotlight the significance of biodiversity to the Earth's ecosystems and the human population.

(ICSU) International Council of Scientific Unions, the highest-level, non-governmental scientific organization, was founded in 1931 to encourage members of the international natural science community to cooperate in worldwide scientific endeavors. The unification of scientific knowledge enables members to collaborate on a wide array of internationally significant issues that would be daunting if undertaken individually. The Council acts as an international forum for the exchange of ideas and information through meetings, symposia, and publications. ICSU is comprised of 98 multi-disciplinary National Scientific Members, 26 international single-discipline Scientific Unions, and international scientific research councils or science academies, including the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council of the United States. The need for international cooperation and collaboration, crucial to the understanding of global processes and interactions, led to the formation of four research partnerships, the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), and DIVERSITAS that study the Earth's ecosystems and exchange knowledge with other scientists and policy makers. In addition to these programs, ICSU co-sponsors other initiatives that are ecology-oriented including the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), and the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE).

(IGAC) International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project studies the Earth's atmospheric composition and physical and biospheric processes. Of particular importance are the atmospheric components such as greenhouse gases, ozone, and private and industrial emissions that affect the global climate. IGAC is sponsored by the IGBP.

(IGBP) International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme was created by ICSU in 1986 to accumulate and disseminate scientific knowledge about the biological, chemical and physical processes that regulate the biosphere, especially those processes that pertain to global change. Emphasis is placed on integral, long-term processes that are highly sensitive to human manipulations and likely to have a great impact on the biosphere. The IGBP goal is to coordinate research and methodology over scientific disciplines to achieve compatible results that can be presented to policy-makers. IGBP sponsors a number of ecologically relevant programs established by the IGBP in collaboration with UNESCO, IOC, WMO, and UNEP. These include BAHC, GAIM, GCTE, GLOBEC, IGAC, JGOGS, and LOICZ.

(IHDP) International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change was created in 1990 and is currently co-sponsored by ICSU and the International Social Science Council. IHDP is a non-governmental, interdisciplinary organization that seeks to understand the impact of humans and human societies on the biosphere, and how biospheric responses affect humans. IHDP works closely with IGBP, DIVERSITAS and WCRP to understand and reduce the impact of humans on global environmental change. Currently, IHDP sponsors four initiatives committed to international identification of and collaboration in new areas of research and presents the findings of new research to those in decision-making positions. The IHDP Science Project Initiatives include the Land Use and Cover Change (LUCC) project and the Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) project, "to advance interdisciplinary, international research and policy efforts in the area of human security and environmental change." The Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) examines the role Industrial Transformation (IT) project looks at the relationship between industry and environmental change.

(ILTER) International Long Term Ecological Research network was developed in 1993, in response to growing interest in ecological research spanning spatial and temporal boundaries. The mission of the ILTER is to utilize the unique strategy of concurrent ecological research in many areas of the world over a period of several years. Long-term observation of ecological systems will increase understanding and communication by allowing ecologists to carefully study, compare and compile data about ecological systems and phenomena that previously were studied for only months at a time. Currently, twenty-one countries on six continents have developed LTER programs, with another ten countries in the process of development and many others expressing interest.

(INTECOL) International Association for Ecology was founded in 1967, as part of the Section of the Environment of the International Union of Biological Sciences (IUBS), to promote ecology as a science and as a valuable tool for understanding global ecosystems. INTECOL has 1,300 individual members, 32 affiliated national ecological societies (including the Ecological Society of America) and 7 professional organizations working to promote ecological awareness and application of ecological principles through conferences, workshops, publications, and other programs to advance the use of ecology worldwide. INTECOL annually organizes the International Congress of Ecology, the largest international gathering of ecologists. Annual dues and grants from international governmental organizations and private foundations support INTECOL. A three-officer board of directors is elected every four years from representatives of affiliated national organizations to manage INTECOL.

(IOC) Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission was founded in 1960 by UNESCO to undertake the formidable task of developing a comprehensive knowledge base about oceanographic systems. Oceans cover 70% of the planet and assert a tremendous influence over other global systems; terrestrial and atmospheric changes significantly impact marine systems as well. Because of the profound importance of international oceanographic systems, it is critical that their processes, pressures, and behavior be understood. The IOC advances toward its goal by attaining and disseminating oceanographic research, observing global oceanographic systems, and providing leadership and assistance to programs dedicated to the observation and research of international marine systems. The IOC also coordinates a large number of regional and global interdisciplinary programs and organizations related to ocean science such as the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) system that was established in 1961 to: "enhance marine research, exploration, and development by facilitating the exchange of oceanographic data and information between participating Member States," and the Integrated Global Ocean Services System (IGOSS) which is the international system for the collection and exchange of ocean data (such as temperature and salinity) and the preparation and dissemination of oceanic products. IOC also sponsors the WCRP.

(IUBS) International Union of Biological Sciences was established in 1919 as a non-governmental, non-profit organization to promote the study of biological sciences, and the exchange of scientific research and ideas. IUBS works closely with other natural science and conservation-related international organizations, including those listed above, to coordinate cooperative research, international conferences and the publications associated with these activities. "The Ecosystem Function of Biodiversity" is a current ecology-related project of the IUBS, sponsored in conjunction with SCOPE, DIVERSITAS, INTECOL, and UNESCO.

(IUCN) World Conservation Union was created in 1948 to assist nations in preserving biodiversity and national resources. It is the world's largest organization dedicated to conservation, encompassing 181 countries and approximately 10,000 scientists and experts. The Union is supported through member dues and donations from governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations, international conventions, foundations, corporations and individuals. IUCN sponsors a wealth of programs, initiatives, and events to further its goals of natural resource conservation and equitable and sustainable global development.

(JGOFS) Joint Global Ocean Flux Study studies the fluxes between atmospheric and ocean biogeochemical processes and the impact of climate change on these processes. JGOFS is especially interested in the ocean carbon system and its impact on the buildup of atmospheric carbon. JGOFS is sponsored by the IGBP.

(LOICZ) Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone addresses the implications of land-use, climate, and sea level changes on coastal ecosystems. LOICZ is sponsored by the IGBP.

(LUCC) Land Use and Cover Change project is co-sponsored by the International Human Dimensions Program (IHDP) and IGBP and examines the impact of socioeconomic factors on land use and works toward the institution of a worldwide model of land-cover and land use change.

Millennium Assessment Steering Committee was established in 1998 to define the benefits, goals and challenges of an international global ecosystem assessment, and prepare a framework for its implementation. The need for an international ecosystem assessment has become critical, as ecosystems face new and daunting pressures from human usage. Ecosystems provide essential life-supporting substances like food and clean water and air, as well as fulfilling many other basic needs such as medicine, and clothing and shelter. The purpose of an ecosystem assessment is to evaluate the negative impacts of current usage and determine ways in which an ecosystem's ability to serve the needs of humans can be maximized. By comparing the abilities of particular ecosystems to provide certain goods and services against other ecosystems in similar localities and with similar usage, it is possible to prepare an assessment of the health of an ecosystem in terms of anthropomorphic value.

(SCOPE) Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment was created by ICSU in 1969 to address international environmental issues concerning natural and anthropogenic changes to the environment and their effects on people. SCOPE represents thirty-one years of cutting-edge environmental research and plays a pivotal role in providing policy and decision makers with critical environmental information. It co-sponsors the DIVERSITAS initiative that seeks to understand global biodiversity patterns. An alliance of forty national science academies and research councils, and twenty-six international scientific unions, committees and societies comprise the guidance and development of SCOPE's extensive scientific programs.

(UNEP) United Nations Environmental Programme was established in December of 1975 to monitor the state of the global environment and to promote research, collaboration, and policy-making in accordance with the health of the environment. The UNEP sponsors events such as the Clean up the World Campaign, in which volunteers in many nations unite to clean up designated sites and World Environment Day, an international day of environmental celebration and awareness that will take place on June 5, 2001 for the 29th consecutive year. UNEP also sponsors several global environmental programs which are GISP, GCOS, GTOS, and GOOS. World conferences, meetings, and awards are also organized and sponsored by the UNEP to promote the exchange of environmental knowledge and recognize nations' efforts to improve the environment. The UNEP is governed by an international Council and guided by a number of Scientific Advisory Groups.

(UNESCO) United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was established Nov. 16, 1945 by a declaration of governments to promote the "intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind" [by contributing to] "peace and security [through] collaboration among nations through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world…" Its forms of action include, but are not limited to, conventions, recommendations, conferences and meetings, studies and research, publications, technical and advisory services to Member States: staff missions, supplies and equipment, training courses, seminars and workshops, financial contributions, fellowships, and study and travel grants. UNESCO sponsors several large global environmental programs including IOC, GISP, GCOS, DIVERSITAS, GTOS, and the GOOS. The Natural Science Sector of UNESCO coordinates a large number of projects and activities of particular interest to ecologists including the World Solar Programme 1996-2005, an international effort to integrate solar energy into developed and developing countries; the East Asian Biosphere Reserve Network, committed to the maintenance of biosphere reserves in East Asia and the International Hydrologic Programme, events and programs that promote understanding and conservation usage of the global water supply.

(WCRP) World Climate Research Program was founded in 1980 under the joint sponsorship of ICSU, WMO, and IOC. Its purpose is to develop an understanding of global climate processes in order to assess the future possibilities of climate prediction and the influence exerted by human activities on the biosphere and climate processes. The WCRP works closely with the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) to accomplish joint agendas. Major projects of the WCRP include the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX), Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR), World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), and the Arctic Climate System Study (ACSYS).

(WMO) World Meteorological Organization was founded in 1950 to establish an international standard for meteorological observations and statistics, and to promote international cooperation in the development of meteorological observatories and the exchange of information. Weather prediction, storm forecasting, and atmospheric and climate monitoring are among the activities of the WMO and its international members The National Weather Service, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, is one of the WMO members from the United States. The WMO also provides vital information to many areas of commercial human livelihood such as aviation, shipping, and agriculture via the World Weather Watch (WWW), an array of satellite, land- and ocean-based observatories and telecommunication links. The WMO supports numerous organizations and programs committed to monitoring and gathering data on the global climate including the World Climate Programme (WCP), the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Atmospheric Research and Environmental Programme (AREP), the Global Ozone Observing System (GOOS), the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW), the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS), and the Background Air Pollution Monitoring Network (BAPMoN). The WMO, in conjunction with other organizations such as UNEP, also organizes conventions and panels such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the exchange and discussion of global climate information.


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