Nairobi, 19 May 2015 - The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today released its Annual Report 2014, showcasing global environmental successes such as the recovery of the ozone layer, significant advances in renewables investments and the first-ever United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).
The year's major success story came in September, when the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, a report by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization, confirmed that the ozone layer is healing and will return to pre-1980 levels by mid-century, thanks to actions taken by Member States under the UNEP-hosted Montreal Protocol to phase out ozone-depleting substances.
According to new models released by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Montreal Protocol and its amendments provide the following health benefits for those born between 1890 and 2100 in the United States alone:
283 million cases of skin cancer prevented, 8.3 million of which are melanoma.
1.6 million deaths from skin cancer prevented.
46 million cases of cataracts prevented.
The report also highlights advances in renewable energy. In developing countries, where renewables are best positioned to address the chronic lack of energy access, clean energy investment rose 36 per cent to $131 billion in 2014 - on track to surpass investment in developed countries, which amounted to $139bn.
At the first-ever UNEA, over 1,000 participants passed 17 resolutions and two decisions that encourage international action on issues ranging from the Sustainable Development Goals including Sustainable Consumption and Production, the escalating problem of the illegal trade in wildlife, and air pollution.
Global progress was made across the board, including ensuring nations take account of the benefits ecosystems provide to humanity. After playing a key role in many global initiatives to raise awareness of the need to value nature over the last decade, UNEP now works with a record 58 countries to factor natural capital into their development plans.
Another sign of the growing awareness of the need to conserve ecosystems and biodiversity came from the news that 15.4 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas and 3.4 per cent of the global ocean are now designated as protected areas.
This report showcases many more successes - from 128 countries signing the Minamata Convention on mercury, to financial markets showing increasing commitment to incorporating environmental risks into investments, to the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles catalyzing global action to the point where only three countries still use leaded petrol.
There are also stories of change in local business practices, proving that the private sector is seeing the advantage - and profit - of acting sustainably. In Brazil, for example, one company saved $750,000 in a year by acting sustainably. And in Cambodia, a snack manufacturer implemented waste agricultural biomass technology, which led to savings of 60,413 litres of oil per year, avoiding an estimated 159 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Browse or download the UNEP ANNUAL REPORT 2014 at: http://unep.org/annualreport/2014/