The establishment of a forest through
tree planting or seeding on land that has lacked forest cover for a very long
time or has never been forested.
- Alien species
An alien species is a species introduced
outside its normal distribution.
Invasive alien species are alien species whose establishment
and spread modify ecosystems, habitats, or species.
Allergies are inappropriate or exaggerated reactions of the immune system to
substances that, in the majority of people, cause no symptoms.
Symptoms of the allergic diseases may be caused by exposure of the skin to a
chemical, of the respiratory system to particles of dust or pollen (or other
substances), or of the stomach and intestines to a particular food.
- Alliance of Communicators for Sustainable Development
"Com+ is a partnership of international organizations and communications
professionals from diverse sectors committed to using communications to advance
a vision of sustainable development that integrates its three pillars: economic,
social and environmental.
By offering a platform to share expertise, develop best practice and create
synergies, Com+ hopes to actively support creative and inspiring communications
across the world."
"Com+ envisions societies that advance and strengthen the three pillars of
sustainable development — economic development, social equity and environmental
conservation — at local, national, regional, and global levels."
A class of natural or man-made substances, such as penicillin, that kill or
inhibit the growth of some micro-organisms.
(Source: GreenFacts, based on CoRIS,
- Avian influenza
Avian influenza, or "bird flu", is a contagious disease of animals caused by
viruses that normally infect only birds and, less commonly, pigs. Avian
influenza viruses are highly species-specific, but have, on rare occasions,
crossed the species barrier to infect humans.
Avian influenza frequently asked questions
Biodiversity is a contraction of biological diversity. Biodiversity reflects
the number, variety and variability of living organisms.
It includes diversity within species
(genetic diversity), between species
(species diversity), and between ecosystems
Renewable energy made from materials from biological sources. Wood, charcoal,
manure and crop residues are all traditional forms of bioenergy.
Bioenergy carriers produced from crops like maize or sugarcane are known as
biofuels, while biogas refers to the mixture
of methane and
carbon dioxide produced by the bacterial
decomposition of organic wastes.
(Source: GreenFacts )
Biofuels are non-fossil fuels. They are energy carriers that
store the energy derived from organic materials (biomass), including plant
materials and animal waste.
They may be solid, such as fuelwood, charcoal and wood pellets; liquid, such
as ethanol, biodiesel and pyrolysis oils; or gaseous, such as biogas.
The total quantity or mass of organic
material produced by living organisms in a particular area, at a given time.
Any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms,
or derivatives thereof to make or modify products or processes for specific use.
- Carbon sequestration
The removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (such as
oceans, forests or soils) through physical or biological processes, such as
Humans have tried to increase carbon sequestration by growing new forests.
Occurring over a long period of time, either continuously or intermittently;
used to describe ongoing exposures and
effects that develop only after a long exposure.
- Climate change
The long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other
aspects of the Earth's climate.
It is also defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as
“change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity
that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to
natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”
- Convention on Biological Diversity
"Signed by 150 government leaders at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the Convention on Biological Diversity is dedicated to promoting sustainable development. Conceived as a practical tool for translating the principles of Agenda 21 into reality, the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems – it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live."
(Source: CBD website )
The conversion of forested land to non-forested land as a direct result of
(Source: Forest Carbon Accounting
DNA constitutes the molecules inside
cells that carry genetic information and
pass it from one generation to the next.
- Ecosystem services
The benefits people obtain from ecosystems.
These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating
services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual,
recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient
cycling that maintain the conditions for life on Earth.
The complex system of plant, animal, fungal, and microorganism
communities and their associated non-living
environment interacting as an ecological unit.
Ecosystems have no fixed boundaries; instead their parameters are set to the
scientific, management, or policy question being examined. Depending upon the
purpose of analysis, a single lake, a
watershed, or an entire region could be
considered an ecosystem.
Glossary of Climate Change Terms
A protein that encourages a biochemical reaction, usually speeding it up.
Organisms could not function if they had no enzymes.
NHGRI Talking Glossary of Genetic
Fairness of rights, distribution, and access. Depending on context, this can
refer to resources, services, or power.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
- Fair trade
The concept of fair trade applies in general to trade operations which
strengthen the economic position of small-scale producers and landowners in
order to ensure that they are not marginalised in the world economy.
It mainly relates to developing countries and, under the present
communication, covers two main aspects: · ensuring that producers, including
employees, receive a share of the total profit commensurate with their input; ·
improving social conditions, particularly those of employees in the absence of
developed structures for social services and worker representation (trade union
representation for instance), etc.; This concept has long-term development in
mind. Participation in initiatives on fair trade is voluntary for both sellers
It is important to note that the concept of 'fair trade' is not the same as
that of 'ethical trade'. 'Ethical trade' usually relates to the operating
methods of companies present in the country (codes of conduct, for example).
(Source: European commission,
communication from the Commission to the Council of 29 November 1999 on 'fair trade' [COM(1999) 619]
The process by which micro-organisms break down complex organic substances
generally in the absence of oxygen to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide.
- Food & Agriculture Organization
"The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads
international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing
countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet
as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of
knowledge and information. We help developing countries and countries in
transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices
and ensure good nutrition for all. Since our founding in 1945, we have focused
special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's
poor and hungry people. FAO's activities comprise four main areas:
- Putting information within reach
- Sharing policy expertise.
- Providing a meeting place for nations.
- Bringing knowledge to the field. "
- Food web
The interconnected food chains (feeding relationships) in an ecosystem.
Plants, herbivores, and carnivores all form parts of the food web.
- Fossil fuel(s)
A general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials,
formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil,
coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's
crust over hundreds of millions of years.
Glossary of Climate Change terms
Water that is not salty, for instance water found in lakes, streams, and
rivers, but not the ocean. Also used to refer to things living in or related to
freshwater (e.g., "freshwater fish").
- Genetic Engineering
The technique of removing, modifying, or adding genes to a DNA molecule [of an
organism] in order to change the information it contains. By changing this
information, genetic engineering changes the type or amount of proteins an
organism is capable of producing, thus enabling it to make new substances or
perform new functions.
US Department of Agriculture,
Glossary of Biotechnology
The complete set of genes of an organism.
The human genome for instance contains 30 000 to 40 000 genes.
The study of genes and their function.
Computational Toxicology Research
- Greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both
natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and
emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation
emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere and clouds.
This property causes the greenhouse effect.
Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2),
nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and
ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases
in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover there are a number of entirely human-made
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other
chlorine and bromine containing substances,
dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Beside CO2, N2O and CH4, the
Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases
sulphur hexafluoride (SF6),
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).
- Gross Domestic Product
The total market value of goods and services produced within a nation during a
given period (usually 1 year).
- Heavy metals
Metallic elements with high atomic weights, e.g.
mercury, chromium, cadmium,
arsenic, and lead.
They can damage living things at low
concentrations and tend to
accumulate in the food chain.
HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus,
a virus that infects
cells of the human immune system and
destroys or impairs their function. Infection with this virus results in the
progressive depletion of the immune system,
leading to immune deficiency.
Immunodeficient people are much more
vulnerable to a wide range of infections,
most of which are very rare among people without immune deficiency.
AIDS stands for
syndrome and describes the
collection of symptoms and infections associated with acquired deficiency of the
immune system. Infection with HIV has been established as the underlying cause
Fast facts about AIDS
Chemical messengers that help our body do different tasks. Hormones are
produced by the endocrine glands and then
sent all over the body to stimulate certain activities. For example, insulin is
a well-known hormone that helps our body digest food. Hormones regulate our
growth, digestion, reproduction and sexual function.
- International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development
"The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for
Development (IAASTD) is a unique international effort that will evaluate the
relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science, and
technology (AKST); and effectiveness of public and private sector policies as
well as institutional arrangements in relation to AKST. [...]
The IAASTD is a three-year collaborative effort (2005 - 2007) that will assess
AKST in relation to meeting development and sustainability goals of:
- Reducing hunger and poverty
- Improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods
- Facilitating social and environmental sustainability
The project is a major global initiative, developed out of a consultative
process involving 900 participants and 110 countries from all regions of the
The IAASTD was launched as an intergovernmental process, with a
multi-stakeholder Bureau, under the co-sponsorship of the FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP,
UNESCO, the World Bank and WHO.
Read the GreenFacts Digest summarizing the IAASTD
- International Fund for Agricultural Development
"The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference.
IFAD's mission is to enable the rural poor to overcome poverty.
IFAD is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries. IFAD focuses on country-specific solutions, which can involve increasing rural poor peoples' access to financial services, markets, technology, land and other natural resources."
(Source: IFAD website )
A state of bad nourishment.
Malnutrition refers both to undernutrition and overnutrition, as well as to
conditions arising from dietary imbalances leading to diet-related
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Glossary
CH3OH. Methanol is the simplest alcohol and is toxic. At high
concentrations, methanol can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and
death. Acute exposure may cause blindness. Chronic exposure to methanol can
cause liver damage.
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Molecular Marker
Specific fragments of DNA that can be identified within the whole genome.
The approximately 20 chemical elements
known to be essential for the growth of living organisms, including nitrogen,
sulfur, phosphorus, and carbon.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Obesity is defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater
(Source: GreenFacts, based on WHO
- Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is "an international organisation helping governments tackle the economic, social and governance challenges of a globalised economy(... It) groups 30 member countries sharing a commitment to democratic government and the market economy."
See their Environment Pages:
- Pathogenic organisms
Organisms, including bacteria, viruses or cysts, capable of causing diseases
(typhoid, cholera, dysentery) in a host (such as a person). There are many types
of organisms which do NOT cause disease. These organisms are called
US EPA Drinking Water Glossary, A Dictionary of Technical and Legal Terms
Related to Drinking
A toxic chemical product that kills
harmful organisms (e.g., insecticides,
fungicide, weedicides, rodenticides, acaricides).
Glossary of biotechnology & genetic
Planting of forests on lands that have previously contained forest but have
since been converted to some other use.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Glossary
Financial assistance (often from governmental bodies) to businesses, citizens,
or institutions to encourage a desired activity deemed beneficial.
A characteristic or state whereby the needs of the present and local
population can be met without compromising
the ability of future generations or populations in other locations to meet
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
"Poverty reduction and sustainable development are the principal tasks of the SDC. To facilitate the achievement of these goals, the SDC focuses on various thematic priorities. In each thematic domain, a sub-goal is targeted while ever keeping in mind the fact that the priority themes are intimately linked to one another."
(Source: SDC website )
The classification, especially of plants and animal, on the basis of
differences and similarities between them.
(Source: Illinois Wetlands
Able to poison or harm an organism. Toxic substances can cause
A gene from one [organism] that has been incorporated into the genome of
Often refers to a gene that has been introduced into a multicellular organism.
(Source: GreenFacts, based on FAO
Glossary of biotechnology & genetic
- United Nations
"The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 191 countries*.
When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes: to maintain international peace and security; to develop friendly relations among nations; to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights; and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations."
(Source: UN website )
- United Nations Development Programme
"UNDP is the UN's global development network, an organization advocating for
change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help
people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working with
them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges. As
they develop local capacity, they draw on the people of UNDP and our wide range
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
"Today, UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to
forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues. The Organization also
serves as a clearinghouse – for the dissemination and sharing of information and
knowledge – while helping Member States to build their human and institutional
capacities in diverse fields. In short, UNESCO promotes international
co-operation among its 191 [as of March 2005] Member States and six Associate
Members in the fields of education, science, culture and communication."
- United Nations Environment Programme
"The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, works to encourage sustainable development through sound environmental practices everywhere. Its activities cover (...) the promotion of environmental science and information, to an early warning and emergency response capacity to deal with environmental disasters and emergencies."
See also UNEP.Net , which "delivers authoritative environmental information from a broad range of information and data providers (...)".
(Source: UNEP website )
- World Bank
The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical
assistance to developing countries around the world. With the aim to reduce
global poverty and improve living standards, the World Bank provides
low-interest loans, interest-free credit and grants to developing countries for
education, health, infrastructure, communications and many other purposes.
World Bank website
- World Business Council for Sustainable Development
"The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a coalition of 170 international companies united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress.
Our members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors. We also benefit from a global network of 45 national and regional business councils and partner organizations located in 40 countries, involving some 1,000 business leaders globally.
The WBCSD's activities reflect our belief that the pursuit of sustainable development is good for business and business is good for sustainable development."
(Source: WBCSD website )
- World Health Organization
"The World Health Organization
(WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on
international health within the United Nations’ system. WHO experts produce
health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health
issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through WHO, governments
can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people’s well-being.
193 countries and two associate members are WHO’s membership. They meet every
year at the World Health Assembly in Geneva to set policy for the Organization,
approve the Organization’s budget, and every five years, to appoint the
Director-General. Their work is supported by the 34-member Executive Board,
which is elected by the Health Assembly. Six regional committees focus on health
matters of a regional nature."
WHO's scientific publications are widely recognized as a reference source.
The WHO has a number of regional offices which address the specific issues of
- World Trade Organization
"The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only global international organization dealing with the rules of trade between nations. At its heart are the WTO agreements, negotiated and signed by the bulk of the world’s trading nations and ratified in their parliaments. The goal is to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business."
(Source: WTO website )