Environment Special Focus: 2022

At the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) earlier this month, there was strong multilateral support for action. Most importantly, the assembly adopted the resolution to create a legally binding agreement to end plastic pollution. But as we have seen with climate, there can be a huge gulf between political commitments and meaningful action. This collection of articles looks at how human activity is threatening vital Earth-systems processes, and sets out what needs to be done to protect the environment on which life depends.
Photo of landscape restoration in Yangambi, DRC by Axel Fassio/CIFOR.

  1. We need an ambitious global plan to reverse nature loss

    In 2022 we should aspire to a Paris-style agreement on restoring biodiversity. Ambition alone, articulated in several published pledges, is not enough: governments must now commit to a strengthened Global Biodiversity Framework that compels them to take meaningful action

    Marco Lambertini
  2. Combating plastic pollution needs all hands on deck

    Plastic waste is at crisis point, causing untold harm to wildlife and poisoning food chains. A new plastics treaty could help turn the tide and avoid irreversible damage to species and ecosystems – countries must take bold action now

    Susan Gardner
  1. The ocean, climate’s regulator

    Restoring the ocean’s health is vital to achieving many of the SDGs, as humankind will need the ocean to provide more food, energy, and jobs. Perhaps less well understood – but critical for our survival – is the vital role a healthy ocean will play in SDG 13: tackling climate change

    Katherine Richardson
  2. Toward a more natural cityscape

    After nearly a century of believing that engineering solutions could conquer nature to make cities productive and efficient centers of socio-economic development, some urban planners now realize that nature is something to design with, not against. But how do we invite nature back in when cities have been built to keep nature out?

    Bambang Susantono
  3. Biodiversity: The canary in the mine

    Human activity is destroying life on Earth on an unprecedented scale. We must urgently and radically re-evaluate nature in our economic thinking and actions, or risk our own species’ survival

    John Podesta
  4. Healthy land for a healthy planet

    A worldwide movement to protect, manage and restore the land will have fast and wide-ranging benefits. It must be the centerpiece of our global redesign

    Ibrahim Thiaw
  5. Corporate environmental hypocrisy must end now

    Marketing and lobbying in support of bogus “green” solutions is undermining global efforts to halt climate change. The UN must step in to convene an intergovernmental scientific panel that evaluates corporate environmental claims

    Rajat Panwar