UNEP warns of sustained ecological meltdown

February 20, 2012 5:39 pm
President Kibaki welcomed at UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi/PPS

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned of a continued deterioration in the state of the global environment due to failure by governments to implement internationally agreed goals.

The summary report released at the sidelines of a UNEP Governing Council meeting in Nairobi stated that out of the 90 internationally agreed goals, only 40 were in progress, 32 had insufficient progress while 13 were not in development at all.

“We have failed to meet agreed goals,” Peter Gilruth Director Division of Early Warning Assessment (DEWA) UNEP said.

“The internationally agreed goal of avoiding the adverse effects of climate change is presenting the global community with one of its most serious challenges that is threatening overall development goals,” he noted.

He added that the rate at which forest loss, particularly in the tropics was taking place remained alarmingly high.

“Today, 80 percent of the world’s population live in areas with high levels of threat to water security, affecting 3.4 billion people mostly in developing countries,” he stated.

The Fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO 5) assessed progress and gaps in the implementation of internationally agreed goals on environment and the full report would be released in June ahead of the Rio+20 Summit on sustainable development.

The report recommended that policy makers focus on the underlying drivers of environmental change such as the negative aspects of population growth, consumption and production, urbanisation rather than just concentrating on reducing environmental pressures or symptoms.

“The solutions put on the table are not intended to be prescriptive in nature but rather a menu of options that you (governments) might want to look at for your own use. It is just a potential source of information to assist in decision making,” Gilruth said.

At the same time, President Mwai Kibaki called on the UNEP Governing Council to endorse the African Union position to transform UNEP into a specialised organisation saying this would create a broader legitimacy through universal membership and result in better coherence in decision making.

“It is for this reason that the African Union has taken a common position to support the transformation of UNEP into a specialised UN agency. This will enable us to place equal importance on the environmental sector as has been placed on other sectors of sustainable development,” President Kibaki said.

Watch video on UNEP upgrading

Speaking when he officially opened the 12th UNEP Governing Council meeting in Nairobi, the Head of State also said the meeting should seek elevation of the Global Ministerial Environment forum from being just a forum for dialogue to being the global authoritative voice on environmental sustainability.

“I am sure this is in the interest of all of us as it will promote sustainable development and poverty eradication throughout the world,” he said.

UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner noted that the process already had support from the European Union and the African Union and expressed optimism that it would garner support from all governments at the upcoming Rio+20 Summit.

Read a related story here.

“The decision that they will take at the Summit (Rio+20) will also carry with it an instruction or a request to the General Assembly, the Secretary General or an international negotiating committee but that will be dependent upon what kind of decision governments will take,” Steiner told Capital News.

“But there is always room for further negotiations, further delays… but you know in politics there are many ways in which you can speed things up or you can slow things down,” Steiner said.

Amina Mohammed UNEP Deputy Executive Director who read the message from Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said the Rio+20 presented an opportunity to put the world on a sustainable path.

“We need an outcome that will relate to the concerns of all. It must be clear, practical and transformational and must convince even the sceptics,” she said.


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