Governance for Sustainability is Most Pressing Issue – UNEP Foresight Panel and GEO-5 Say

Feb 20, 2012 No Comments by

‘Aligning Governance to the Challenges of Global Sustainability’ is the most pressing emerging issue in the environmental sphere, according to a report just released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The report identifies and ranks 21 environmental issues which have the greatest potential impact on the well-being of humanity and the planet, yet receive less attention than they require. The report was compiled over eight months by the UNEP Foresight Panel, a group of 22 internationally-recognised distinguished scientists in environmental and related fields, from all regions of the world, with consultation and feedback from over 400 leading scientists and researchers.

The report’s release comes at the opening of the 12th UNEP Governing Council / Global Ministerial Environment Forum Special Session, and alongside the release of the 5th Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report’s Summary for Policy Makers. The Summary focuses on the deteriorating state of the global environment and lists priority areas for action and policy recommendations. The full GEO-5 report will be released in June, shortly before the Rio+20 summit. GEG Project Director, Maria Ivanova, is one of the Coordinating Lead Authors for the last chapter of GEO-5 on Policy Responses.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner welcomed both the Foresight Panel and GEO-5 reports, saying “The Foresight Process has brought a unique and sharp focus to the emerging issues the world is facing. It is a snapshot of expert scientific opinion, underlining how even long standing issues such as governance, food security and water scarcity are evolving and metamorphosing as accelerating environmental change presents fresh and fundamentally new challenges… the findings dovetail with the summary for policy makers of GEO-5.”

Besides the issue of governance for sustainability, the Foresight Panel identified the green economy, food safety and security, and an improved science-policy interface as other top priorities.

The full UNEP press release can be found here, the Foresight Panel report here, and the GEO-5 Summary here.

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About the author

Tse Yang is a student in the Master of Environmental Management program at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, as well as a Research Associate at the Center for Governance and Sustainability at UMass Boston. He has previously worked with the Permanent Mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations. Tse Yang holds a B.S. in Biology from Yale University.
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