North America Assessment Identifies Emerging Areas of Environmental Concern
A new report on regional environmental trends released May 20 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) recognizes overall progress in policy-driven environmental conditions in North America, but emphasizes the urgency of attending to key emerging areas of concern: accelerated climate change impacts, water security issues, and land fragmentation/threats to biodiversity. On the positive side, air quality continues to improve, land resources are appear in good condition in general, and energy efficiency, particularly use of solar power, is improving. However, the report identifies new risks to human wellbeing and ecosystems in the region, for example:
—Threats to biodiversity from urban encroachment and climate change impacts, including loss of species habitat (especially birds) and risk of extinction to widespread species;
—Land fragmentation from wildfires, pest outbreaks, and land management, especially in relationship to increased conversion of forest to cropland; and
—Impacts of climate change such as drought, extreme events like Hurricane Sandy, and the environmental consequences of drastic changes to the Arctic.
The report was one of six regional assessments produced as part of the UNEP Sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6). CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy co-chaired the North America Assessment, and was a coordinating lead author of several chapters. Contributing authors were program manager Minal Patel, senior research associate Sandra Baptista, and staff associate Emilie Schnarr. Graphics and data analytics support was provided by senior research associate Paola Kim-Blanco, geographic information specialist Tricia Chai-Onn, senior research associate Valentina Mara, and senior research staff assistant Alyssa Fico.
GEO-6 Regional Assessment for North America (76 MB PDF)
Press release/download all GEO-6 assessments
Regional Factsheet for North America