The Post Online – Kini Nsom & Leocadia Bongben
Environment experts have warned of a possibility of human extinction if nothing is done to contain the unprecedented environmental changes, stating that it takes sustainable development to reverse the tides.
This is the main preoccupation of the report known as Global Environment Outlook 4, Geo4, that assesses the current state of the world atmosphere, land, water, biodiversity.It equally describes the changes in the last two decades, highlighting the progress made in tackling some of the world’s environmental problems.
The report conducted by close to 400 experts within a period of five years is the fourth edition from the Nairobi-based United Nations Environmental Programme that was launched by the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Systems, Sophie de Caen, and the Minister of the Environment and Nature Protection, Hele Pierre, in Yaounde last week-end.
The 10-chapter report warns that the apparent progress in finding solutions to straightforward problems such as air and water pollution, should not defer from persistent problems on which solutions are emerging that include climate change, deterioration of and the extinction of species.
According to the report, “there are no major issues raised in our common future for which the foreseeable trends are favourable”. There are, therefore, serious indications that humanity’s survival is threatened.
The report identifies as enormous the challenges with greenhouse emissions hinged on the two-degree Celsius increase in global mean temperatures above pre-industrial levels. There are equally indications that climate impacts are becoming more severe with threats of major damage irreversible.
In order to curb the situation, the need for reduction commitment is demanded more on the developed countries while for the emission reductions in less developed countries should be between 60-80 percent by 2050.
Against this backdrop, the experts emphasise the need for urgent action and not in any way a move to present a gloomy and dark picture.Chapter I of the report focuses on environment for development, Chapter II on the atmosphere, III on land , IV on water, V on biodiversity, VI on regional perspectives, VII vulnerability of people and environment while VIII is dedicated to inter-linkages: governance for sustainability.
Chapter IX projects into the future with four major trends: government have to deal with markets, policy, security and sustainability and Chapter X is devoted to placing the environment at the core of decision making with a major for action.
Sophie de Caen highlighted issues such as the projections made in the report, lessons learnt and conclusion amongst others. She said the essential thing about the report is that more than 2 million people die prematurely due to out and indoor pollution and that unsustainable land uses and climate change are driving land degradation, with poor people suffering disproportionately the effects of land degradation.
Reacting to the conclusions of the report, she said the environmental and development challenges as well as policy challenges warned against in 1987 still exist, adding that the benefit of early action outweighs costs.
Hele Pierre, for his part, identified environmental friendly actions in Africa with political reforms in the creation of institutions such as the Programme of Action for the Environment, PAE, in NEPAD.
He, however, regretted that changes in environmental governance geared towards sustainable development are taking place at a snail pace. He lamented that development strategies most often ignore the need to preserve the ecosystems as a major pillar of durable development.
The Minister underscored the relevance of Geo4 to Cameroon in the information on major developments on the implementation of international convention as well as good practices to be encouraged.
He equally appreciated the reference points on the information decision makers have to take into consideration for the environment to effectively contribute to development.Prior to the launching experts, Dr. Martin Zen-Nlo, Assistant Resident Representative of UN Environment Programme, Angel Luh-Sy, Information Officer for the African Regional Bureau in Kenya, and Dr. Samuel Ayonghe provided journalists with background information on the report and environmental issue generally.
Roger Alain Taakam provided guidelines of environmental reporting and possible themes reporters can exploit for their reports.