About Ecosystems

The 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals are underpinned by a healthy and productive environment. That is why UN Environment 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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Running low on bushmeat and timber

Picture yourself in a densely populated part of sub-Saharan Africa and imagine a development agency is implementing a project that is bringing people together to develop and conserve the land and its biodiversity in a sustainable way.

Here’s Josephat’s story:

Josephat has a problem. He’s having difficulty paying school fees for his seven children. And his mother needs...

Running low on bushmeat and timber

Picture yourself in a densely populated part of sub-Saharan Africa and imagine a development agency is implementing a project that is bringing people together to develop and conserve the land and its biodiversity in a sustainable way.

Designed by nature

In the Spanish region of Andalucía there are several concentrated solar plants that, from the air, look amazingly like the floral heads of sunflowers. This is no artistic or random arrangement, but a highly practical one. The hundreds of heliostats, or mirrors, rotate with the sun to reflect concentrated sunlight towards a central tower, where water is heated to steam, which drives a turbine...

Wetlands limit impact of floods, drought, cyclones

Wetlands, as defined by the Ramsar Convention, include all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peat lands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.

Seven hot environment stories to look out for in 2017

Welcome to 2017. Pollution is going to be a big topic this year, particularly of the air and sea. Air pollution is the world's biggest environmental health risk, costing the lives of 7 million people every year. On sea pollution, more countries are taking action against marine litter that is clogging ecosystems and endangering food chains. To keep these urgent issues high on national agendas,...


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...


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?

Main reasons for food-related greenhouse gas emissions: Fertilizer production and use, irrigation, tillage, machinery, livestock, land conversion, cooking, cleaning, transport, cooling, and leftovers.