Emerging Issues of Environmental Concern: UNEP Frontiers 2016 Report, 2016. UNEP.
The UNEP Frontiers 2016 edition presents six emerging issues. It highlights, for example, that the global significance of the financial sector should not confine itself only to enhancing global economic growth, but also to advancing environmental sustainability. The financial sector has a crucial role to play in investing in new low-carbon, resource efficient and environmentally sound assets, and shifting capital away from traditional assets that have high impacts on the environment. The report presents a number of emerging financial initiatives led by the financial sector as innovative solutions to sustainability challenges.
There is a worldwide increase in disease emergence and epidemics particularly from zoonoses – diseases that can be passed on between animals and humans. The report illustrates how the emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic diseases are closely interlinked with the health of ecosystems. The risk of disease emergence and amplification increases with the intensification of human activities surrounding and encroaching into natural habitats, enabling pathogens in wildlife reservoirs to spill over to livestock and humans.
The recent years have seen a growing presence of plastic pollution in the aquatic environment, particularly in form of microplastics. While stakeholders are increasing their efforts to reduce the use of microplastics through innovative approaches and policy change, the scientific community is racing to understand the level of exposure and physiological impacts of microplastic contaminants on various organisms, as well as the risk to human health through consumption of contaminated food.
The UNEP Frontiers report also highlights two critical issues associated with climate change. The issue of loss and damage to ecosystems due to changing climate has risen to global attention in recent years, and has led to the establishment of the Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts. The report introduces a number of case studies on recent sudden- and slow-onset events that have caused losses and damages to ecosystems and human systems, and presents a range of risk management tools needed to avoid harm.