Burnt and degraded forest within Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Photo: World Bank/Flore de Preneuf
19 May 2016 – The environment is deteriorating faster than previously thought, making it imperative that governments act now to reverse the worst trends, says the most authoritative study the United Nations has ever published on the state of the planet’s health.
The Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments is a compilation of six separate reports, which provide highly detailed examinations of the environmental issues affecting each of the world’s six regions: the Pan-European region, North America, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a press release.
Published ahead of the UN Environment Assembly, taking place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23-27 May, the regional assessments, which involved 1,203 scientists, hundreds of scientific institutions and more than 160 governments, find that the world shares a host of common environmental threats that are rapidly intensifying in many parts of the world.
Across the planet, climate change, the loss of biodiversity, land degradation and water scarcity are growing problems that need to be urgently addressed if the world is to achieve the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the studies find.
“Today, thanks to this report, we now know more about the state of the world’s environment than ever before,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “It is essential that we understand the pace of environmental change that is upon us.”
The assessments find that there is still time to tackle many of the worst impacts of environmental change, such as the damage to marine ecosystems and the rising level of air pollution, which has become one of the world’s most widespread environmental health risks.
As one of the first areas of the world to experience the impacts of climate change, the Arctic region serves as a barometer for change in the rest of the world. Warming in the Arctic has increased at twice the global average since 1980.
The largest contributions to global glacier ice loss during the early 21st century were from glaciers in Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, and the periphery of the Greenland ice sheet, as well as in the Southern Andes and Asian mountains. Together these areas account for more than 80 per cent of the total ice loss.
Global Climate Change