New Delhi : The pace of environmental deterioration around the world is frighteningly rapid and unless leaders act immediately to tackle some of the common environmental threats like climate change, loss of biodiversity, land degradation and water scarcity, the environmental burden would be too great to bear, a new United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report has warned.
The report, based on the results from the latest Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments, showed that a number of common environmental threats were rapidly intensifying in many parts of the world, but there was still time to tackle many of the worst impacts of environmental change, such as damage to marine ecosystems and increasing levels of air pollution.
But, these problems needed to be addressed urgently if the world wishes to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the report said.
The GEO-6 compiles six separate reports with detailed examinations of the environmental issues affecting the Pan-European region, North America, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa.
“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, adding, “It is essential that we understand the pace of environmental change that is upon us.”
"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".
“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", he added.
The assessments identified the Asia-Pacific as the world's most disaster-prone region; some 41 per cent of all natural disasters reported over the last two decades occurred there, as did 91 per cent of the world’s deaths attributable to natural disasters in the last century.
In the Latin American and Caribbean, air pollution is a major threat to city dwellers, whose number are projected to increase to 567 million by 2025, it found.
In West Asia, continuous conflict and mass displacement of people are triggering severe environmental impacts and endangering human health, according to the GEO-6 assessment.
The report said improving data collection, processing and sharing to allow informed decision-making; enhancing sustainable consumption and production to reduce environmental pressures; investing in urban planning and making better use of environmentally sound infrastructure and clean transport; reducing dependence on fossil fuels; and diversifying energy sources could bear positive results.