2019 has only just begun, but it is already hard to imagine that there will be other extreme weather events with disastrous consequences such as cyclone Idai happening again this year. In all likelihood, such events will continue to occur as 2019 rolls on. Idai is, once more, proof of how devastating and toxic the mix of climate change, extreme weather events and poverty can be: Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe – countries that rank low in human development but contribute very little to global greenhouse gas emissions – suffer from some of the worst impacts of climate change.
With the UN climate summit in New York at the end of September 2019 coming closer, the question of whether all countries are fully aware of the need for more immediate and additional efforts still remains. While at the very least some attention is being paid to this urgency (such as the ‘Fridays for Future’ movement), there are other risks which warrant more attention to prevent future humanitarian crises.
Thanks to the UN Environment Frontiers series, there is now a fresh and timely look on new scientific insights into the trends and challenges which may cause potential environmental and climate-related risks that we may otherwise neglect today. Among these risks (and sometimes promises) are, for example, gene-editing techniques which are advancing rapidly, the impacts of further degradation of climate-critical permafrost peatlands, and the risks of maladaptation to climate change. All these risks require policymakers to engage proactively and foresightedly to develop sustainable, long-term policy and governance planning for future generations.
To that end, the interactive ECC platform has been providing the most recent and sound information for more than 15 years. Part of these efforts has been the touring exhibition "Environment, Conflict and Cooperation", which has been displayed more than 50 times throughout since 2005in five different languages! The updated and expanded online version of the exhibition is now available online, and we hope that you will use it as actively as the other sections of the platform.
At the conclusion of the 50th Pacific Islands Forum, Pacific leaders issued a Forum Communiqué and the ‘Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now’ – the strongest collective statement the Forum has issued on climate change. Pacific leaders highlight the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, the SAMOA Pathway Review, and 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to the UNFCCC as “global turning points to ensure meaningful, measurable and effective climate change action”.
If ratified, the Mercosur-EU trade deal may reinforce the parties’ commitment to climate action. Yet, its potential relevance is weakened by a language that often stops short of concrete commitments, as well as by political resistance.
Iraq is on the verge of an environmental breakdown, and climate change is not helping. The country's fragile environment and the increasing scarcity of natural resources — particularly water — are a result of poor environmental management, as well as several political and historical factors. However, as climate change impacts add to the existing pressures, the environmental collapse turns into a security issue.
The severity of desertification and its mutual relationship with climate change cannot be overstated. In light of the recent launch of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Robert McSweeney from Carbon Brief explains what desertification is, what role climate change plays, and what impact it has across the world.