UNEP Year Book 2013

unep year book 2013: Emerging issues in our global environment

The UNEP Year Book 2013 is the 10th edition of the Year Book series. This series presents annual reviews of emerging environmental issues and policy-relevant developments.

Rapid change in the Arctic threatens ecosystems and but also provides new development opportunities, including easier access to oil and gas, minerals and fisheries. The Year Book 2013 shows that change in the Arctic has consequences far beyond this fragile region, and that international response is urgently needed.

To meet the internationally agreed goal of producing and using chemicals in ways that minimize significant adverse impacts on health and the environment by 2020, countries need to step up efforts to reduce use of toxic chemicals, promote safer alternatives and build capacity for sound chemicals management. Adequate information for minimizing chemical risks is essential to support these efforts.

The Year Book looks at key environmental events in 2012-13 and at changes in the global environment, based on key environmental indicators.

    Environmental events and developments

    The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012 was the largest UNconference ever,marking the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit. While progress has been made towards achieving sustainable development in the past two decades, 2012 also witnessed failures to protect the environment, including increased emissions of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants and a surge in poaching in Africa which threatens some of its iconic species.

    Also in this Chapter

    Working towards sustainable development
    Sustaining a growing population
    Environmental pressures in an urbanizing world
    Meeting environmental goals
    Climate change: time to act
    Looking ahead
    2012 At a glance
    2013 Calendar of events
    World map

    Photo Credit: Laurent Baheux
    Poaching of endangered species seriously threatens some of the world's biodiversity. Rhinos like this white rhino in Kruger National Park, South Africa, are endangered species poached for illegal trade in their horns.

    Searching for the responses to a rapidly changing Arctic

    The extent of Arctic sea ice was at a record low in September 2012. Rapid environmental change in the Arcticas a result of climate changeprovides new development opportunities including easier access to oil and gas, minerals and fisheries, but ecosystems are threatened. Changes in the Arctic have consequences far beyond this fragile region. Arctic and non-Arctic countries share responsibility for its protection.

    Also in this Chapter

    Accelerated summer meltdown
    Changes in the Arctic biosphere
    The rush for Arctic resources
    Environmental governance
    The way forward

    Photo Credit: Peter Prokosch
    Sea ice is frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface. It forms in the winter and partly retreats in the summer. The extent and thickness of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean is significantly decreasing.

    The need for better information and sound management to minimize chemical risks

    The volume of chemicals manufactured and used continues to grow. Increased international co-operation is needed to eliminate or reduce use of toxic chemicals, promote development and adoption of safer alternatives, and build capacity for regulation and management at every stage of chemicals' lifecycles. Public availability of adequate information on chemicals is essential to support these efforts.

    Also in this Chapter

    Chemicals and their risks
    International chemicals governance
    Ongoing and emerging challenges
    New opportunities for testing and assessment
    The costs of inaction
    Towards better chemical risk management
    The way forward to minimize risks

    Photo Credit: Kevin Telmer
    A small bottle of mercury used in artisanal and small-scale gold mining. Mercury is of global concern because of its persistence in the environment, its ability to accumulate, and adverse impacts on people and ecosystems.

    Tracking progress towards environmental sustainability

    One of the main outcomes of Rio+20 was agreement by countries to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals, buildingon the Millennium Development Goals and converging with the post 2015 development agenda. States and trends of the environment demonstrate that the world continues to speed along an unsustainable pathdespite progress in certain areas.

    Also in this Chapter

    Climate change and energy
    Depletion of the ozone layer
    Chemicals and waste
    Natural resource use
    Environmental governance
    Looking ahead
    Indicator data table 2012

    Photo Credit: Christian Lambrechts
    The Mau Forest, Kenya. Aerial surveys and other observation techniques provide important information on state and trends in the environment.

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