Natural Resources and the Environment

Since the beginning of time, we have treated nature as a free and endless provider of services. We hike in forests, swim in oceans and use its resources without a second thought. But even if we don’t pay for these goods and services, their value is far from zero.

At the UN Environment Assembly leadership dialogue ministers and other high-level representatives are invited to announce concrete actions by their respective governments or organizations that will promote the environmental dimension of sustainable development

Illustration of a palm leave.

We need to strengthen action to protect and restore nature and the nature-based solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in its three complementary dimensions: social, economic and environmental. The fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) starts today and it provides an opportunity for Member States and Stakeholders to take ambitious steps towards building back better and greener by ensuring that investments in economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic contribute to sustainable development.

A forest in the mist

Environment is the foundation for human wellbeing. Who speaks for it? Who leads on it? Almost fifty years ago, in 1972, UNEP was created as the anchor institution for the global environment, a small, smart and capable body that was to “color the UN environmental”. UNEP’s fiftieth anniversary offers an opportunity to reflect on its core mandate, raise awareness about its accomplishments, and solicit input on its future. Join us for a conversation with Maria Ivanova, the author of “The Untold Story of the World's Leading Environmental Institution: UNEP at Fifty” at 18:30 - 19:30 h EAT.

The Earth from space with the sun rising behind it.

Scientific assessments estimate that humanity has ten years remaining to solve the environmental challenges it faces, including climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution management, ocean protection, as well as air and water quality. Business as usual in the global economy is clearly not working. Big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital transformation can play important roles to ensure sustainable development. UNESCO, in collaboration with UNEP and partners, is organizing the global virtual conference AI for the Planet, to inspire further actions in this field.

A woman inside a volcano crater with monitoring equipment.

UNEP calls for nominees for the Champions of the Earth award – the UN’s highest honour for individuals and organizations that are safeguarding our environment and transforming societies.

winners of the 2020 Young Champions of the Earth prize

An engineer who turns plastic rubbish into paving stones. An activist who is fighting to save endangered salmon. And an inventor who developed a machine capable of pulling water out of the air. These are just some of the winners of the 2020 Young Champions of the Earth prize. They are Nzambi Matee (Kenya), Xiaoyuan Ren (China), Vidyut Mohan (India), Lefteris Arapakis (Greece), Max Hidalgo Quinto (Peru), Niria Alicia Garcia (United States of America) and Fatemah Alzelzela (Kuwait).

Illustration of interconnected environments.

The UNEP 2020 Greening the Blue report provides a snapshot of the UN System’s environmental impacts throughout 2019 and the activities underway to reduce them.

A young African woman holding a brick in her hands.

The UN Environment Programme named seven young scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and activists from across the globe as its 2020 Young Champions of the Earth. With solutions to harvest water from the air, recycle plastic into paving slabs, and motivate fishing boats to haul tonnes of plastic out of the ocean, these change-makers show how innovative ideas coupled with ambitious action can help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges. They’ll receive seed funding, mentoring and communications support to amplify their efforts.

Ilustración de una mano con el signo de la victoria.

Young Champion of the Earth is a forward-looking prize designed to breathe life into the ambitions of brilliant young environmentalists aged 18 – 30. Shortlisted finalists from every region have been selected following an open call for applications. A Global Jury will then choose seven winners. Each winner is expected to implement their big idea and keep UNEP updated on their progress by producing videos and blogs. Winners will also be given funding to support their communication efforts throughout the year, so that they can produce high-quality materials to share with our audiences.

A man holds up a drone.

In the last couple of years, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) – or drones, have really take off. From enhancing video coverage of events to taking stock of the aftermath of natural disasters, they now have a key role to play in many different contexts. The possibilities with UAV technology are far-reaching, and FAO is harnessing this potential to monitor the use of natural resources and increase sustainability. UAVs save time, are cost efficient and provide up-to-date data and images in high resolution for many different purposes. They’re also easy to use, making them the perfect tool.

A man in uniform plants a seedling.

Natural resources and the environment hold tremendous peacebuilding potential. From economic recovery and government revenues to sustainable livelihoods and the restoration of basic services, the way natural resources are managed and governed can either fundamentally support or undermine peacebuilding objectives. The United Nations strives to ensure that action on the environment is part of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies. There can be no durable peace if the natural resources that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed.

Kids watering rows or seedlings.

Imataca is an extensive and hugely diverse, tropical humid forest located the southeast of Venezuela. The Kariña live in small groups of extended families at the heart of the forest reserve. The Kariña women, in coordination with the Venezuelan government and FAO, created a company to revitalise areas degraded by mining. The project, which also aims to increase gender equality in the forestry sector, supports the Kariña women in actively leading the development of their territories and the conservation of the area’s biodiversity.

An old car by the side of the road in Ethiopia.

A groundbreaking UNEP report, warns that millions of used cars, vans and minibuses shipped from Europe, the United States of America and Japan to the developing world are polluting and unsafe.