The latest report from the United Nations details the state of the environment and what we are doing to it, and it’s not looking good. They found that the damage we are doing is occurring at a much more rapid pace than previously thought, to such an extent that we are degrading the environment quicker than it can recover.
The study, carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is the most comprehensive look at the environment ever conducted, involving over 1,200 scientists, more than 160 governments, and hundreds of scientific institutions. Without radical change, which means governments acting now to reverse the worst trends of environmental degradation, the world’s ecosystems will be damaged beyond repair.
“If current trends continue and the world fails to enact solutions that improve current patterns of production and consumption, if we fail to use natural resources sustainably, then the state of the world’s environment will continue to decline,” explains UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in a statement. “It is essential that we understand the pace of environmental change that is upon us and that we start to work with nature instead of against it to tackle the array of environmental threats that face us.”
Overfishing is a major problem, one which will hit the world’s poorest the hardest. Sean Pavone/Shutterstock
The study compiles six separate reports that look in detail at different regions of the world: the Pan-European region, North America, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa. The major issues and threats differ from place to place, but in general they found that climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, and water scarcity are global problems that need to be addressed as soon as possible.
They found that despite attempts to persuade governments to become more sustainable and improve environmental conditions, particularly with growing populations and the ever-looming threat of climate change, the opposite is actually occurring, as degradation is steadily increasing. With hundreds of millions of people in the developing world directly reliant on the natural environment, action needs to be taken now to save them, and achieve the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The authors hope their study will be used as an aid to help the world in its efforts to combat climate change and environmental destruction. They conclude that there is still time for something to be done to protect the most fragile of ecosystems. It is within the power of governments to put a stop to immediate issues, such as the damage inflicted to marine environments and the shocking levels of air pollution that continue to rise. This is possible through simple measures, it just needs the political will.