The Earth's biological resources are vital to humanity's economic and social development. As a result, there is a growing recognition that biological diversity is a global asset of tremendous value to present and future generations. At the same time, the threat to species and ecosystems has never been so great as it is today. Species extinction caused by human activities continues at an alarming rate, making it one of the thematic focus of GRID-Geneva activities.

Climate change

While climate change has been pointed out for a few decades as a major threat to the Planet, the visible signs and negative effects on ecosystems and the society of the current 1°C warming become clearly visible. Climate change is more than ever a crucial environmental theme of study that has influences on many other ones.


Water is a precondition for human existence and for the sustainability of the planet. However, water is complex because it is linked to almost everything in the world, making its sustainable management a crucial challenge for the future of life on the planet.


Energy plays a vital role in today’s societies stability and development. Accurate, reliable and up-to-date knowledge on existing and planned resources are hence essential for strategic planning and development.


Pollution is the process of making land, water, air or other parts of the environment dirty and not safe or suitable to use. This can be done for instance through the introduction of a contaminant into a natural environment. As it is prejudicial to humanity and life in general, this issue must be addressed for a sustainable future, making it a theme of focus for GRID-Geneva.

Land Cover

Land cover is the discernible vegetation, geologic, hydrologic or anthropogenic features on the planet's land surface. These features, such as forests, urban area, croplands and sand dunes, can be measured and categorized using satellite imagery. Land cover change can be assessed by comparing one area with two images taken at different dates. Determining where, when, how much and why change occurs with land cover is a crucial scientific concern.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster risk lies at the intersection of hazards, exposure, and vulnerability of the exposed elements. Due to climate and global environmental changes, even the natural component of hazards is being altered by anthropogenic activities, changing hazard susceptibility, coverage, frequency, and severity. A holistic approach is needed for disaster risk reduction, which is closely connected with achieving sustainable development.


The Extractive Industries are an important driver of global economic growth. They can also be a vital catalyst for national socio-economic development, especially in resource-rich developing countries and fragile states. However, given the long-term horizon of extractives projects, and large-scale mines in particular, developmental dividends for host countries can materialize with significant delays. This leads to a particular set of challenges for governments, the private sector and local communities.

Planetary Boundaries

The Planetary Boundaries are a set of physical and biological limits of the global Earth system that should be respected in order not to leave a “Safe Operating Space”, and thereby put the planet’s human-friendly living conditions into peril. The most known limit is Climate Change but others are considered like Ocean Acidification for example.

Youth & Environment

Youth is at the frontline of the current climate change issue awareness and mobilisation for actions towards environmental policies. It is then of utmost importance to translate scientific environmental material into comprehensive environmental facts by the general public, especially the youth. UNEP/GRID-Geneva is keen on producing such environmental material for youth whenever possible.

Gender & Environment

UNEP acknowledges that women play a critical role in sustaining communities and managing natural resources, even though their contributions are often undervalued and neglected. Gender equality and women’s empowerment are cross-cutting priorities across all aspects of UNEP’s work to achieve a just and sustainable future.

Indigenous knowledge

Since the first Rio ‘Earth Summit’ in 1992 the United Nations system has promoted the global recognition for traditional knowledge systems in achieving various environmental goals. This support has taken the form of intergovernmental guidance for the use of traditional knowledge, including its protection, access and benefits sharing; and promotion of traditional knowledge systems as necessary complement to science and on-the-ground support to ensuring the continued propagation and vitality of indigenous knowledge systems. UNEP/GRID-Geneva is committed to highlight this thematic in its activities and provide links to related resources.