It is 20 years since the historic Rio summit on sustainable development. This moment, and this event, gives us an opportunity to reflect on the progress - or lack of it - which has been made, and to look ahead to the challenges before us. Because we should be under no illusion that great challenges lay ahead. And before we rush to sign up to yet more Utopian visions, let us be realistic about what more needs to be achieved.
From 2006-2011, up to 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced, in the terms of one expert, “the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago”. According to a special case study from last year’s Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction (GAR), of the most vulnerable Syrians dependent on agriculture, particularly in the northeast governorate of Hassakeh (but also in the south), “nearly 75 percent ... suffered total crop failure”. Herders in the northeast lost around 85 percent of their livestock, affecting 1.3 million people.
Experts at the Fifth Shafallah International Forum have said that prejudice against and abuse of people with disabilities is alarmingly frequent in disaster-struck areas, although programmes in some countries have made significant contributions to improving the lives and reducing the impact of disasters for disabled people.
The United Nations has taken a new initiative to promote renewable energy, considering its potential to alleviate poverty across the world, according to a top UN official.
The UN declared 2012 the ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All' and Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, has also taken an initiative in the same direction, said Sha Zukang, under-secretary general of the UN.
The 6thWorld Water Forum in Marseille is the largest international meeting dealing with water issues; every three years, and it brings together more than 10,000 participants from every country in the world. The ministerial conference scheduled for 13 March 2012 is one of the Forum's key events and is being organized by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.
With the beginning of winter, residents of villages and towns in northern Bekaa, many of whom are unable to afford fuel, are turning to wood from the area’s forests. While burning firewood is the only option for many to stay warm, the practice is driving deforestation and striking a blow to local conservation efforts.
The growing worldwide demand for resources is threatening the world’s environmental health to an unprecedented extent. Unless new policies are set in place, this situation could have devastating implications for human development.
In this context, women and children can be very active participants in the defence of the environment and stop, or even reverse, the degradation of our natural resources.
OROUMIEH LAKE, Iran – From a hillside, Kamal Saadat looked forlornly at hundreds of potential customers, knowing he could not take them for trips in his boat to enjoy a spring weekend on picturesque Oroumieh Lake, the third largest saltwater lake on earth.
"Look, the boat is stuck... It cannot move anymore," said Saadat, gesturing to where it lay encased by solidifying salt and lamenting that he could not understand why the lake was fading away.
The long popular lake, home to migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls, has shrunken by 60 percent and could disappear entirely in just a few years, experts say — drained by drought, misguided irrigation policies, development and the damming of rivers that feed it.
For 5,000 years the Marsh Arabs lived in the mythical Garden of Eden in the marshes of southern Iraq. Saddam decimated the marshes in the early 90s. Tens of thousands died; over 300,000 people fled into exile. With Saddam toppled the waters are returning. Earth Report discovers if Eden will ever be the same again?