UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook – latest report.

The United Nations Environment Programme says that major threats to the planet such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the many that remain unresolved, and all of them put humanity at risk.

The warning comes in UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) report published 20 years after the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) produced its seminal report, Our Common Future.

GEO-4, the latest in UNEP’s series of flagship reports, assesses the current state of the global
atmosphere, land, water and biodiversity, describes the changes since 1987, and identifies priorities for action. GEO-4 is the most comprehensive UN report on the environment, prepared
by about 390 experts and reviewed by more than 1 000 others across the world.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “The international community’s response to the Brundtland Commission has in some cases been courageous and inspiring. But all too often it has been slow and at a pace and scale that fails to respond to or recognize the magnitude of the challenges facing the people and the environment of the planet”.


What do you want for your children this Christmas?

GEO-4 recalls the Brundtland Commission’s statement that the world does not face separate crises – the “environmental crisis”, “development crisis”, and “energy crisis” are all one. This crisis includes not just climate change, extinction rates and hunger, but other problems driven by growing human numbers, the rising consumption of the rich and the desperation of the poor.

Examples are:

• decline of fish stocks;
• loss of fertile land through degradation;
• unsustainable pressure on resources;
• dwindling amount of fresh water available for humans and other creatures to share; and
• risk that environmental damage could pass unknown points of no return.

Get the report summary here. Just don’t read it to your kids.

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8 Responses to UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook – latest report.

  1. Dan says:

    hey. i have to admit that i have become desensitised to alarming reports like this. every time i see a report saying something like ‘half of all species could be wiped out’ (the royal society this week) i skim past it pretty much without a second thought. i mean, what do you do about a report that tells you your ecosystem is on the verge of collapse?

  2. matt says:

    Good question and one at the forefront of many people’s minds as more and more of these reports come out.

    There’s the tricky balance between spending time & resources highlighting the many problems to policy & decision makers and spending more time on searching for & testing possible solutions.

    The former are getter more promenence at the moment because unfortunately too many politicians are ignoring the evidence. These reports therefore have a keen eye on the next round of the ‘climate change’ negotiations in Bali in December.

    Expect more doom laden campaigning for the foreseeable future.

    In the meantime I have noticed more organisations engaging in the ‘solutions’ remit. CNN have recently started up such a web page. The Coffee House has a sister site called Environment Solutions too.

  3. Pete Smith says:

    It’s true that every report looks pretty much like its predecessors. Trouble is, there’s an entrenched mindset that demands more and better evidence of problems, reinforced by the need to provide ammunition to counter the sceptics who have their own numbers. It’s not enough to accept the existence of problems on faith alone. From a practical point of view we need accuracy and precision on the numbers for a valid benchmark against which to measure progress (or lack of it). From the emotional and PR angles, endless doom and gloom reports are becoming counter-productive.
    I’m looking at a ‘solution’ myself: a nice fortified, self-sufficient hilltop.

  4. matt says:

    > I’m looking at a ’solution’ myself: a nice fortified, self-sufficient hilltop.

    King Henry II built quite a few such fortifications. You could try the one at Orford. You will have to restle it from the almighty National Trust however.

  5. Pete Smith says:

    Too conspicuous, too close to a centre of population, too close to the coast and rising sea levels, too draughty, not enough land.

  6. matt says:

    You are a fussy hermit. 🙂

  7. Pete Smith says:

    And too many bloody tourists 😎

  8. Pete Smith says:

    “what do you do about a report that tells you your ecosystem is on the verge of collapse?”

    Do what other species do and be prepared to adapt. The likeliest scenarios involve resource shortages of one sort or another, so prepare by getting used to using less. This is a double whammy as it reduces your current footprint right now. After all, it still may not be too late to make a difference, in spite of what the doomsters say.

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