Vital Graphics Series

In order to inform environmental and development policy-making processes, UNEP keeps under review the state of the world environment. UNEP’s environmental assessments, such as the Vital Graphics series developed by GRID-Arendal, are fundamental communication initiatives that promote the interaction between science and the various stages of the policy and decision-making cycle. They reduce complexity but add value by summarizing, synthesizing and illustrating critical environmental issues. They also identify consensus by sorting out what is known and widely accepted from what is not known or not agreed. Vital Graphics packages are an ideal tool for mainstreaming environmental issues, in other words, for preaching to the ‘non-converted’.


Available titles

On 16 September 1987, the treaty known as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed into existence by a group of concerned countries that felt compelled to take action to solve an alarming international environmental crisis: the depletion of the Earth’s protective ozone layer. Since that humble beginning 25 years ago, this treaty has taken root, grown and fi nally blossomed into what has been described as “Perhaps the single most successful international environmental agreement to date”. 

The world population is steadily increasing, consumption levels are growing, and as a result the global waste heap is getting bigger and bigger. Despite the economic difficulties faced by several countries, global trends for waste are clearly on the rise; and forecasts for 2050 indicate that these are long-term trends.

The Caspian Sea region has witnessed important developments in the past decade and many opportunities are still available. The region is a major supplier of hydrocarbons to the world market, and will play a considerable role in the global energy sector in the future, with new offshore fields due to come onstream in 2014. New transport corridors are under consideration. Fishing, once a traditional economic sector, now faces an alarming fall in stocks, resulting in unsatisfactory catches for fishermen and less work for associated activities. But opportunities are arising with the development of other sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

Biofuels Vital Graphics visualizes the opportunities, the need for safeguards, and the options that help ensure sustainability of biofuels to make them a cornerstone for a Green Economy. Stories from around the world have been highlighter to exemplify possible approaches, lessons learned, risks and opportunities Biofuels Vital Graphics is meant as a communications tool. It builds on an earlier report by the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management of the United Nations Environment Programme, Towards Sustainable Production and Use of Resources: Assessing Biofuels, as well as research produced since.

“Vital Climate Change Graphics for Latin America and the Caribbean demonstrates both the urgent need to act and the significant benefits that could be gained by taking early action to adapt and reduce the region’s vulnerability to climate change.

Vital Ozone Graphics 2.0 - Climate Link is a Resource Kit for journalists, which provides them with the essential visuals, facts, links and contacts to develop ozone story ideas. Graphics and figures can be downloaded and included in articles.  This electronic publication is intended not only to inform and inspire journalists but also to serve as an interesting reference for those who wish to learn more about the Montreal Protocol and ozone layer depletion. 

“Vital GEO Graphics” is an electronic booklet that is based on the UNEP publication Global Environment Outlook 4 (GEO-4). This is one of many publications produced within the popular Vital Graphics series – an initiative started by GRID-Arendal with the aim to promote communication of scientific findings in accessible easily readable and environmentally friendly format.

A publication of the UN Environment Programme, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Forum on Forests  that serves as an advocacy tool to promote conservation and sustainable management of the world’s forests through a better understanding of the values they provide in support of global ecological stability, economic development and human well-being.

An Overview of the State of the World’s Fresh and Marine Waters
The report presents an overview, through a set of graphics, maps and other illustrations, of the current state of the world’s fresh, coastal and marine waters. It illustrates the causes and effects of trends that threaten our water resources, with examples of areas of major concern and future scenarios for the use and management of fresh, coastal and marine waters.

A new UNEP publication, written and produced by GRID-Arendal for World Environment Day 2008, shows how various levels of society can work towards climate neutrality. Written and reviewed by experts from many disciplines and various countries, the book is aimed at a broad audience.

We often associate the Caspian Sea with caviar that is legally or illegally finding its way to our tables, but overlook the footprints left by a number of industries installed on shores of the Caspian that are serving the world wealthiest market demands.

"Vital Ozone Graphics – resource kit for journalists" is a joint publication of UNEP DTIE OzonAction and GRID-Arendal. It features 30+ new graphics explaining physical, technical, economic and political aspects of the disconcerting process of ozone destruction in the atmosphere and the human action that has been taken to stop the process.

Environmental protection is one of the areas where the Balkan countries still face a big challenge to catch up with their western neighbours. After the 1990s conflicts and the breakup of Yugoslavia, six new Balkan states emerged. 

Vital Climate Graphics Latin America and the Caribbean is a collection of graphics that highlight greenhouse gas emission trends, observational evidence, and projected impacts of warming and adverse weather events in the region.

The publication of this second edition was prompted by the popularity of the first edition and the obvious need for providing updated information to our readers. The contents of this publication are accessible on this web site where all the graphics are reproduced in data formats that could be downloaded for further use.

The fate of the Arctic environment deserves global consideration. The Arctic is the world’s last continuous, undeveloped and unexploited coastal and marine region. It is an area highly unique in terms of its landscape, its peoples and ecosystems; as well as its vulnerability to climate change.

The second edition of Vital Waste Graphics looks at the lifecycle of products and provides a wealth of data, text and graphics that shed a light on types of waste that are usually hidden to the consumers.

The publication "Vital Waste Graphics" was initiated by the Basel Convention Secretariat and produced in partnership with the Division of Environmental Conventions (DEC) of UNEP, Grid-Arendal and the Division of Early Warning Assessment-Europe of UNEP. It is being published for the seventh meeting of the Conference to the Parties of the Basel Convention (COP7).

The latest report (Third Assessment Report) of the UNEP/WMO Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) notes a warming of approximately 0.7°C over most of the African continent during the 20th century based on historical records. While the exact nature of the changes in temperature or precipitation, and extreme events are not known, there is general agreement that extreme events will get worse, and trends in most variables will change in response to warming.

Vital Climate Graphics are based on the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. The IPCC's 1995 Second Assessment Report is widely respected as the most authoritative source of climate change information available.