UNEP - The United Nations Environment Programme

The United Nations Environment Programme UNEP is the leading international forum in environmental issues. The purpose of the Environment Programme, established in 1972, is to promote environmentally sustainable development in the UN, speak for the state of the environment, establish a global environmental agenda, and coordinate environmental issues within the UN system. From the very beginning, Finland has been a strong supporter of UNEP.

All UN Member States are members of the highest body for environmental issues, the UN Environment Assembly UNEA. Initiatives made in UNEA relating to international environmental legislation and environmental policy processes will eventually be reflected in the EU and in individual countries. UNEA convenes every second year at its headquarters in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

UNEP has a major role in the implementation and monitoring of the environmental dimension of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without taking environmental issues into account in a comprehensive way. UNEP considers that in more than half of the SDGs the key focus is on the environment or sustainability in terms of natural resources. Environmental sustainability has also been taken into account in at least 86 of the associated targets.

The fragmented international environmental administration is a challenge for UNEP. Within the UN system, the responsibility for environmental issues is divided between several organisations. At the same time, the resources for SDGs relating to the environment and natural resources are considered insufficient relative to the countries’ needs and objectives. The reform of the UN development system and giving a stronger role to UNEP and UNEA should improve the opportunities to boost the implementation of environmental objectives.

UNEP has an important normative role in international environmental cooperation. UNEP offers secretariat services to several environmental agreements and scientific panels and supports in the implementation of agreements. It has a key role in negotiations on new international environmental agreements and action programmes.

UN-HABITAT - The United Nations Human Settlement Programme

UN Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlement Programme, promotes socially, economically and environmental sustainable urban development. UN Habitat enhances knowledge about urbanisation and supports urban communities in reducing inequality and poverty, equitable development of urban and rural areas, climate action, and building better urban environments and crisis resilience.

The New Urban Agenda adopted at the Habitat III Conference in 2016 is an action-oriented document that sets global targets to achieve sustainable urban development. UN Habitat has a key role in the implementation and monitoring of the New Urban Agenda and in the guidance and technical know-how related to this. UN Habitat is also involved in the implementation and monitoring of the urban dimension of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The decision-making bodies are the UN-Habitat Assembly (UNHA), which convenes every four years, and Executive Board, which convenes two to three times a year. Finland is a full member of UNHA and has an observer status in the Executive Board. Finland fully endorses the policy priorities, field of operations and content of the organisation. In line with the New Urban Agenda, Finland has adopted a programme on sustainable urban development (2017–2022), where the priorities also implement the Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 11 concerning safe and sustainable cities and human settlements. The main focus areas in Finland’s programme are low-carbon operations, resource efficiency, smart services, combating inequality, and health considerations.

More information

Marjaana Kokkonen, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Ministerial Governance and International Affairs Department, International and EU Affairs Telephone:0295250025   Email Address:

Jyri Juslén, Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Department of the Built Environment, Living Environments Telephone:0295250108   Email Address: