Natural Resources and the Environment

The Montreal Protocol is one of the most successful universally ratified environmental treaties. Without which, it is estimated that the global ozone layer would have collapsed by the mid-21st century, with devastating environmental implications. Scientists estimate that the ozone hole is now expected to gradually close. But there is more to be done. The Kigali Amendment aims to phase-out so called HFC gasses. Compliance will avoid up to 0.4°C of global warming over this century. UNEP brings us a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, with aerial footage courtesy of Human / GoodPlanet Foundation.

A view of treetops from below

Air pollution is a multifaceted problem – representing the world’s leading environmental risk to health, costing the globe an estimated $8.1 trillion in 2019. Air pollution is also deadly, causing or contributing to heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases and killing an estimated seven million people every year. 95 percent of these deaths occur in low- and middle- income countries. As such, tackling air pollution is a component of the World Bank’s mission to eradicate poverty and promote shared prosperity. Less obvious is what can be done to address this problem.

Only 4.8 percent of Uruguay’s land is now covered by native forests. A group of local people have decided to reverse that trend and despite the winter’s cold, have gathered in a local park to start work. UNDP Uruguay’s Accelerator Lab, and partners have begun planting 1,000 trees to restore Punta del Diablo’s native forest.

baby orangutan close-up

Orangutans, meaning people of the forest, live in Indonesia and Malaysia. Their presence signals a healthy forest. When populations shrink, so do those of other animal and plant species. Orangutans are now critically endangered, and their population has declined by around 50% in the last 60 years, mainly due to loss of habitat. A tree cut is a home destroyed. When they come down to the ground, they are vulnerable to illegal trafficking. This World Orangutan Day (19 Aug) get to know how the UN works in their conservation. Join the Wild for Life campaign and watch them on the virtual tours!

Elephant in the wild

Did you know that elephants germinate many plants that do not grow without passing through their digestive system? Elephants don’t only provide for ecosystems, they do so for economies too. They bring income and jobs to the tourism sector. Despite their contributions, elephants are poached in large numbers for their high-priced ivory. Visit the UN African Elephant Fund, to learn how the UN works to restore sustainable elephant populations. You can also go wild on a savanna journey. On #WorldElephantDay (12 August) join the Wild for Life campaign to help tackle the illegal trade in wildlife.

On the Kenyan coast, a UNEP partner, the Watamu Marine Association, has developed a business model that keeps beaches clean, bringing together local communities and the tourism industry to collect, repurpose and recycle plastic waste. This small-scale circular economy has big potential and can be replicated anywhere in the world there is a coastal tourism industry, restoring coastlines and addressing the global issue of marine litter.

A woman squats among saplings

FAO and partners equip forest communities with the technical capacity and funds needed to address forest degradation and promote restoration activities, along with the Cambodian government.

Two hands emptying a bowl full of food leftovers

1.3 billion tonnes of food is either lost or wasted, says the UNEP Food Waste Index. Composting is one of the best options for managing organic waste while also reducing environmental impacts.

A long haired-goat along other goats grazing.

UNDP engages brands, local processors, herder groups, development partners, civil society organizations and public authorities to advance sustainability in cashmere production.

Young trees

Tasked with using geospatial technology to count trees in a remote region of northeast Nicaragua Rene Zamora, a Forest Economist from the World Resources Institute (WRI), spread the word so that local people could help. Most of his recruits worked in cattle ranching and agriculture and had never used a computer before. The end result was an FAO-WRI “mapathon”, where local people first learned the necessary computer skills and data-collection techniques before applying this knowledge, all with the goal of creating a high-resolution map of where the region’s trees are.

Close-up of a Gelada monkey from the Ethiopian highlands.

Janez Potočnik, former European Commissioner for Environment and Science, and Izabella Teixeira, who served six years as Brazil’s environment minister, met more than a decade ago at a gathering of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan. They were there as negotiators hoping to set clear targets that might safeguard the natural world. Each understood the stakes as they advocated for science-based principles to guide political action. They recently met with UNEP to discuss the study and the massive international effort needed to halt biodiversity loss.

A small bay

In this month’s episode, IFAD celebrates World Environment Day through developments protecting the environment; Africa Climate Week and innovations from East and Southern Africa; and the International Day of Family Remittances, a day celebrating a vital source of funding for people living in rural communities in the developing world.

Other features include a new report on nature-based solutions in agriculture, the environment as inspiration for a UN Human Rights Champion, the changes to environmental policies in Afghanistan and organic farming in China, and a new group called Chefs 4 the Planet.

report cover

By taking profits of nature-based solutions, we can vastly improve human well-being and prosperity. This year’s report calls for investments in nature-based solutions to triple by 2030 and to increase four-fold by 2050 from the current level.