From the innovations and ethical dilemmas of synthetic biology to the options for appropriate international adaptation to climate change: The new report by UN Environment “Frontiers 2018/19” explores the emerging environmental issues facing the planet.
In “Africa’s smallest war,” both Kenya and Uganda lay claim to Migingo Island, a tiny island in the waters of Lake Victoria. While the claims are over the island, the conflict is about something else entirely: Lates niloticus, also known as Nile perch, a tasty white fish that swims in the waters surrounding the island. The fish forms the backbone of the Lake Victoria economy but is increasingly hard to come by along the lakeshore. Catches are in decline, incomes are dropping, and the Ugandan government is taking increasingly harsh, militarized steps to help revive the fishery. Who is to blame?
Resource consumption has grown exponentially over the past: between 1970 and 2010, the quantity of extracted materials has tripled. Not only the overall amount of resources extracted and consumed has risen rapidly, but also the diversity of resources has grown. While half a century ago, only a few materials such as wood, brick, iron, copper, and plastics were in high demand worldwide, today products are more complex and require a wide range of materials.
Times of war can result in rapid environmental degradation as people struggle to survive and environmental management systems break down resulting in damage to critical ecosystems. For over six decades, armed conflicts have occurred in more than two-thirds of the world’s biodiversity hotspots thus posing critical threats to conservation efforts. [...]
When the Fourth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) takes place in Nairobi starting March 11, governments, international organizations, and civil society organizations will discuss issues on the theme of innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production with over 30 draft resolutions submitted for discussion. With few international forums where the environmental dimensions of conflict can be properly discussed, we were optimistic about the past resolutions tackling this topic.
A recent report by the UNEP focuses on addressing trade in wildlife and forest products across the three sectors of crime prevention and criminal justice, trade regulation and natural resource management. It finds that there is less focus on the legislative means for preventing offenses related to trade in wildlife and forest products and more attention on the means for detecting and punishing such offenses.
After close to 40 years of armed conflict, Afghanistan may be poised to begin a period of economic recovery. Electrifying remote areas and establishing pervasive political control is critical to its success. India is currently planning and funding several major hydropower projects along the Kabul River and its tributaries. Micro-hydropower is bringing electricity to remote areas such as the Banda Miralamji Village in eastern Nangarhar Province. However, in some areas far from the capital, the central government in Kabul and opposition groups are struggling for control and influence. While electrification of a village often eases poverty, health concerns, and improves communication, it does not always benefit the government in Kabul.
In many ongoing armed conflicts, water has been used as a weapon of war, but it can also be a strong instrument of peace.
Nigeria’s central Middle Belt region is home to a diverse cultural population of semi-nomadic cattle herders and farming communities. For decades, the region has experienced increasingly violent attacks that have been partially attributed to direct competition over access and use of natural resources.
The challenge of peacebuilding missions is not only to stop violence and prevent a rekindling of conflict, but also to help societies and governments reset their internal relations on a peaceful path towards sustaining peace. In the short run, it might be tempting to dismiss environmental issues when considering the insurmountable task of building peace after armed conflict. Yet, it is increasingly clear that the interaction between social, political, and ecological processes decisively shapes the post-conflict landscape.
In order to help address escalating violence, UN Environment has launched the UN Initiative for Environmental Defenders. This brief analyses the initiative and looks into how member states can support peace by engaging in environmental diplomacy, with a focus on Brazil.