Environment – UN News Centre

A world of news from the world organization

UN praises resilience and vision of younger generation, marking International Youth Day  

Commemorating International Youth Day, top UN officials have called on leaders around the world to “do everything possible” to enable young people to reach their fullest potential.

Building a green economy, brick by brick

In Uruguay, thousands of families earn a precarious livelihood making bricks, using traditional methods that are often inefficient and harmful to the environment. A UN project, in collaboration with the Uruguayan government, aims to make the industry less polluting, whilst preserving jobs for the many artisans who depend on it. 

First Person: Turning ‘apathetic people into climate activists’; a young person’s view

An 18-year-old environmental campaigner from the United States has told UN News how she wants to “turn apathetic people into climate activists”. Sophia Kianni, whose family originally comes from Iran, is one of seven young people from across the world who have been selected to participate in the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. The group which was launched at the end of the July aims to engage young people in “an open and transparent dialogue” about climate issues.

Five things you should know about disposable masks and plastic pollution

The fight against plastic pollution is being hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the use of disposable masks, gloves and other protective equipment soars, but UN agencies and partners insist that, if effective measures are put into place, the amount of plastics discarded every year can be significantly cut, or even eliminated.

Thousands suffer extreme rights abuses journeying to Africa’s Mediterranean coast, say humanitarians

Thousands of refugees and migrants in eastern and western Africa, are dying while others face harrowing abuse in their attempts to reach the continent’s Mediterranean coast in search of a better life, a joint UN/Danish Refugee Council report said on Wednesday.

Climate emergency ‘a danger to peace’, UN Security Council hears

The climate emergency generated by global warming, is exacerbating existing risks to international peace and security, while also creating new ones, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Friday, making the case for swift climate action on multiple fronts.

Dramatic Arctic fires and sea ice melt, show need for urgent climate action

“Exceptional and prolonged” temperatures in Siberia, have left parts of the Arctic warmer than sub-tropical Florida, and fuelled “devastating” wildfires for a second consecutive year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday, while warning also of rapidly decreasing sea ice along the Russian polar coast.

Deforestation has slowed down but still remains a concern, new UN report reveals

Although some 178 million hectares of forest has been lost worldwide over the past three decades, the rate of loss has declined substantially during this period, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday.

Young innovators vying for top UN environmental prize

Thirty-five young people with innovative ideas for tackling challenges such as protecting indigenous Amazonian land through adventure travel, converting harmful emissions into valuable commodities in the United States, and generating electricity from water in Nigeria, have been named as regional finalists for one of the UN’s most prestigious environmental awards.

FROM THE FIELD: Frontline resilience in Somalia

 One hundred thousand households in Somaliland in northwest Somalia have better access to water, protecting them not just from the ravages of climate change but also against the spread of COVID-19, thanks to a project supported by the UN Development Programme.  

Dump fuel-hungry AC units to cut years of emissions and save trillions: UN report

A wholesale switch to efficient, “climate-friendly” appliances could make a huge dent in environmentally harmful emissions, says a new UN report released on Friday.

World off track in meeting 2030 Agenda, UN deputy chief warns, calls for solidarity in COVID-19 recovery

The world was off track in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, even before the COVID-19 crisis erupted, but can get back on course by increasing investment in public services, showing solidarity on financing, and “reshaping” how people work, learn, live and consume.

Women and girls deserve more protection in emergencies, UN rights council hears

The collective impact of climate change, COVID-19 and conflict mean that well over 200 million people will likely need humanitarian assistance by 2022, the UN’s deputy rights chief said on Monday.

Rising global temperature shows ‘enormous challenge’ of meeting climate goal

Annual global temperature is likely to be at least 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels in each of the coming five years, putting globally agreed climate change targets in jeopardy, new data from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reveals.

‘Stay the course together to emerge stronger’ from COVID-19 crisis: UN chief’s message to major sustainability forum

As a major United Nations forum prepares to assess progress towards a fairer future for people and the planet, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that each of the Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Youth activist speaks up for environmental protection at Human Rights Council

At the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, a teenager from Côte d’Ivoire has explained why protecting the environment matters so much.

First Person: Looking to the skies to understand the climate crisis

Could studying the cosmos help us to fight the climate crisis? Two astronomers at the University of Hawaii think that knowledge of the solar system may help to slow down the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.

UN highlights urgent need to tackle impact of likely electric car battery production boom

Demand for raw materials used in the production of electric car batteries is set to soar, prompting the UN trade body, UNCTAD, to call for the social and environmental impacts of the extraction of raw materials, which include human rights abuses, to be urgently addressed.

What will power the post-pandemic global economic recovery?

As governments try to kick-start their economies, the UN is calling for recovery plans to be built around low-carbon technologies, to avoid a return to fossil fuel-based "business as usual".

Extraordinary ‘megaflash’ lightning strikes cover several hundred kilometres, smashing records

New records for extreme lightning bursts, or ‘megaflashes’, during 2019, have been made official, more than doubling the size and duration of the previous record flashes, the UN’s weather agency, WMO, announced on Thursday.

First Person: Innovation brewing at Hawaii coffee farm

Innovation and experimentation are helping a coffee farm in the US state of Hawaii to prosper in a competitive market, an approach which has helped the company to get through the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Extreme weather ‘record’ likely in Arctic Circle, says UN weather agency WMO

Reports that temperatures in a Russian town in the Arctic Circle likely reached a record 38C (100.4F), last weekend, have been approved by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) pending final verification, it said on Tuesday.

FROM THE FIELD: Adapting to Lesotho’s changing climate

Living in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho comes with its fair share of challenges, including land degradation and climate change, which are upending traditional farming practices. 

‘New contract’ needed with nature to keep drought and deserts at bay

The UN Secretary-General has called for “a new contract for nature” to address ongoing global challenges connected to land degradation, such as forced migration, hunger and climate change.

Throughout COVID-19 recovery, 'plummeting’ clean energy costs can help climate action

As COVID-19 hits the fossil fuel industry, a new UN report published on Wednesday shows that renewable energy is more cost-effective than ever – providing an opportunity to prioritize clean energy in national economic recovery packages and bring the world closer to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.  

COVID-19: ‘Unparalleled economic shock’ threatens development hopes and gains

As the diverse and severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt across the world, an “unparalleled economic shock” is putting development gains at risk, the UN chief told a meeting of high-powered business leaders on Wednesday.

Solidarity is the world’s ‘best line of defence’: UN General Assembly president

Back in September, the world committed to a landmark political declaration on universal health coverage. Now, in the throes of the COVID-19 crisis, the President of the UN General Assembly has reiterated the importance of investing in health as “an investment in human capital, social and economic development and the empowerment of all people”.

World Oceans Day: Don’t be colour blind, help blue oceans keep the planet green

The COVID-19 pandemic is a “sharp reminder” of how we are all intimately connected to each other and to nature, the UN chief said on Monday, World Oceans Day.

FROM THE FIELD: Pacific islanders confront twin threats of climate change and coronavirus

People living on an isolated island community in the Pacific Ocean are finding ways to reduce their dependence on expensive imported food while promoting climate resilient farming techniques, thanks to a programme supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Bringing the coral reefs back to life

Coral reefs are being killed by the climate crisis, which is leading to rising sea temperatures. “Cryopreservation”, a pioneering scientific technique, could be one way to help save them.