About Ecosystems

The 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals are underpinned by a healthy and productive environment. That is why UNEP is working on the development and promotion of better and more sustainable ways to manage our ecosystems.

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Preserving our Ecosystems

To continue meeting our existing needs and to provide the basis for the achievement of the SDGs, the health and productivity of ecosystems must be maintained.

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Economics of Ecosystems

A growing number of assessments show that ecosystem services are worth billions of dollars to national economies. Still, the value of ecosystem goods and services are not recognized and accounted for in government and private sector decision-making.

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Integrated Solutions

Reconciling conflicting interests in the face of increasing demands for ecosystem goods and services will require revitalized collaboration across society. 

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Funding the Future

Public sector economic decision-making can account for 15-60 per cent of a country’s GDP and provides an opportunity to address the negative drivers of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

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Private Sector Buy-In

The corporate sector’s embrace of ecosystem considerations is one of the most promising means of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, while also reducing risks and providing new opportunities for companies, investors, lenders and insurers.

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Education Is Key

Education has a critical role to play in preparing future generations to participate responsibly in a sustainable and inclusive green economy and society, and provides a great opportunity to reach a wide audience. 

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Stories

Citizen science helps ecosystem renewal in Kenya

Nairobi, 18 January 2016: Kenya faces diverse sustainability challenges such as climate change, degraded ecosystems, poor health, waterborne diseases, and poor waste management. Unsuitable consumption patterns and limited environmental awareness are compounding the problem.

There is, therefore, an increased need for capacity development, environmental awareness, and...

Protecting our water sources brings a wealth of benefits

By Andrea Erickson, Managing Director, Water Security

The journey of our water from source to tap is long, and not one we think much about. For most of us, our water starts high in the mountains, hundreds of miles away. From there, water flows across natural and working lands until a portion is channeled to water pipes that move water to our faucets, to farms and to various types of...

Gambia project helps combat coastal erosion, flooding

9 January 2017: The West African country of The Gambia is prone to flooding and coastal erosion. The River Gambia, which passes through it, is both a source of livelihoods for communities and at the same time can become an environmental hazard severely affecting the capital, Banjul, and almost half the country.

Better ecosystems management can help address this...

Conserving Bahrain’s oyster beds

3 January 2017: Bahrain is renowned for its world-famous, high quality pearls. They have a unique lustre because they are formed in seawater through which bubbles of fresh water flow from the sand below.

The pearls are found in a species of oyster known as “pearl-forming oysters”.

The trail was recently listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site due to its...

Dugong conservation project makes waves

Conservation of the iconic “sea cow” and its seagrass habitat requires education and incentives.

Nairobi, 27 December 2016: Popularly known as “sea cows”, dugongs are an endangered species. They are affected by fishing activities, coastal pollution, killed for their meat, or injured by boats.

They feed exclusively on seagrass in shallow coastal areas of...

Publications

Protected Planet 2016

The Protected Planet Report 2016 assesses how protected areas contribute to achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets...

Taking steps toward marine and coastal ecosystem-based management

Healthy marine and coastal ecosystems provide valuable services - from food security, resources for economic growth...

Economics of Land Degradation in Africa

In Africa, the loss of about 280 million tons of cereal crops per year from about 105 million hectares of croplands...

Assessing Global Land Use

This report examines the main causes for cropland expansion, proposes an estimated reference value for this...

Biodegradable Plastics and Marine Litter

This briefing paper provides a concise summary of some of the key issues surrounding the biodegradability of...

News

New research predicts the future of coral reefs under climate change

  • If current trends continue, severe bleaching will occur every year on 99% of the world's coral reefs within this century
  • More ambitious emissions reductions may give reefs an average of 11 extra years before annual bleaching strikes 
  • High-resolution predictions of annual coral bleaching can help prioritize reefs for conservation

UN Biodiversity Conference results in significant commitments for action on biodiversity

- Pledges and commitments in support of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity made by Business; Cities and Subnational Authorities, IPLCs and Youth;
- Capacity-building strategy agreed for the Convention and its Protocols; 
- Protected areas on the land and in the oceans and seas, expanding considerably, with Mexico increasing marine protection to 23 per cent; 
- Marine agenda...

As countries rush to protect their seas, endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh calls to preserve the Antarctic

  • Marine protected areas now cover 18.5 million km2 - over 5% of the global ocean and nearly 13% of territorial waters
  • Endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh launches campaign to place an Antarctic area the size of Australia under protection
  • Mexico announces largest biological reserve in the country's history

Scientists shine a spotlight on the overlooked menace of nitrogen

  • United Nations and scientists bring together USD $60 million for new international management system to fight nitrogen pollution 
  • Indispensable to life on earth, reactive nitrogen is a dangerous pollutant of air, water and soil, when released in large quantities 

Ministers commit to integrate biodiversity into key economic sectors in order to achieve global biodiversity targets.

  • Ministers of Environment, Agriculture, Tourism , Fisheries and Forestry agree on urgent coordinated action to advance progress on biodiversity targets 
  • Meeting adopts Cancun Declaration on Mainstreaming the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity for Well-Being 
  • Countries also announce ambitious commitments in support of Aichi Targets 

Did You Know?

Despite significantly increased food production, around 850 million people globally are undernourished.