Overview
In der Hindukusch-Himalaya-Region schmelzen die Gletscher

Global environment

Restoring the planet’s environmental health is indispensable

Global environment in crisis

Our era is marked by increasing ecological destruction. Some devastating trends are global and threaten the future of humankind as such. Every nation state is affected – and no nation state can rise to the resulting challenges on its own. Global heating has attracted the most attention internationally, but the erosion of biodiversity, increasing desertification or the proliferation of waste are serious challenges too. 

The international community has made efforts to get a grip on some of the most important issues. United Nations conventions have been adopted, various funds like the Global Environment Fund (GEF) have been established, and a series of multilateral negotiations keeps going on. Unfortunately, the global environmental crisis has kept escalating largely unabated. Countries with low incomes typically feel the strongest impacts, though they have done rather little to bring about the problems. 

Content

    Recent Articles

    New contributions on environment topics

    Restoring the planet’s environmental health is indispensable. Ecological improvements are therefore core components of the Sustainable Development Goals. Climate action is not enough, but without it all other developmental aspirations the United Nations have spelled out will remain unattainable. 

    Chinese funded steel mill displaces locals in Zimbabwe

    Chinese investment in large-scale projects in Africa has had massive impact on communities and the environment. One example is a new steel mill in Zimbabwe, valued at over $ 1 billion.

    Protecting biodiversity

    Variety matters much

    Biodiversity has several dimensions. The number of different species matters, but so do the great variation of ecosystems they live in as well as the genetic diversity that makes any single species resilient. By destroying the environment, humankind is putting its own existence at risk. Ultimately, even the food security of high-income nations depends on the protection of biodiversity. Agriculture cannot thrive when ecosystems fail. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is just as important as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

    Nature is changing rapidly in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

    Glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region are melting, permafrost is thawing and water availability in river basins is becoming unpredictable, a landmark report confirms. This poses a threat to more than 1.8 billion people living in the mountains and downstream.

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    Climate justice

    Facilitating a just transition

    Though humankind has been producing enough food to feed everyone on earth, hunger and malnutrition still affect poor rural communities. Climate damage will make life more difficult for them. Moreover, it is likely to reduce global food supply. Action is needed at local, national and global levels. Vulnerable communities’ interests deserve policymakers’ attention. At the same time, it is necessary to mobilise more funds and to implement the transformation to clean energy in ways that do not further disrupt economic and social life.

    Bringing the slogan “just transition” to life

    The shift towards a global CO2-neutral economy can only succeed if it is done in a socially just way. It is often unclear, however, what exactly that means. Alternative jobs, social security and regional structural policies are essential.

    Desertification issues

    Keeping land from deteriorating

    Worsening aridity and fast population growth are exacerbating poverty in some world regions. The Lake Chad region on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert is probably the most striking example. While the region’s political crisis is attracting much attention, the underlying ecological issues are largely ignored. 

    Land-use conflicts undermine food security in Nigeria

    In view of a fast-growing population, demand for land is increasing in Nigeria. At the same time, the climate crisis is compounding problems in agriculture. Land-use conflicts further diminish the scope for food production and other kinds of economic activity. Whether violent action is criminal or merely self-defence can be hard to tell.

    One Health

    Healthy environment, healthy humans

    Human development cannot succeed where people are physically unfit. For this reason, basic healthcare has always been high on the international development agenda. Because of escalating environmental crises, however, health risks are increasing. Since the health of humans, animals and ecosystems is closely interrelated, the One Health approach deserves more attention. Failure to take preventive action will lead to worsening health results, further overburdening healthcare systems that even today do not grant universal access.

    In India, deadly disease is linked to deforestation

    In India, different diseases show that human health is linked to the health of the natural environment. Two prominent examples are Nipah and KFD. Experience tells us that destroying forests can result in the emergence of deadly illnesses.

    The waste-management challenge

    Building a circular economy

    Garbage is flooding the planet with harsh impacts on climate and biodiversity. Informal scavengers appreciate what waste is worth, but policymakers all too often stay ignorant. Around the world, we need regulations to enforce the “3R” imperatives: reduce, reuse and recycle. The goal is to build a circular economy which no longer needs to dispose of any waste. Part of the challenge is to formalise the informal sector in ways that ensure better livelihoods to the masses of people who depend on it.

    115 plastic cups in the belly of a whale

    Sustainable waste disposal has hardly been a priority in Indonesia, even though the country must manage the garbage generated by 280 million people. The island nation’s waste all too often ends up in the ocean. Ambitious new plans, however, are geared to creating a circular economy which recycles all waste.

    DIGITAL MONTHLY ON CLIMATE ACTION

    Our Digital Monthly 2024/03 focuses on climate action. Click on the title on the left to download the issue as a PDF free of charge.

     

    The contributions of our authors deal, among other things, with

    - the current status of international climate affairs,

    - melting glaciers and thawing permafrost in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region,

    - flash floods following periods of drought in Kenya,

    - solar power for Ghanaian hospitals,

    - emissions trading in Africa, 

    - key issues of just transition and

    - legal battles for climate justice.

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