United Nations' report on the state of the environment
29 October 2007
Hard-hitting messages about the state of the environment are contained in the United Nations' fourth Global Environment Output (Geo4) report Environment for Development, published last week.
In his opening remarks within the report, Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said, "Few global issues are more important than the environment and climate change... Protecting the global environment is largely beyond the capacity of individual countries. Only concerted and coordinated international action will be sufficient."
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), one of the UK's biggest funders of environmental research, is already rising to the challenge through international and interdisciplinary research partnerships. NERC's new strategy, to be published on 15 November, focuses on the sustainability of life on Earth. It aims to deliver world-leading environmental research that will enable society to respond to global climate change and the increasing pressures on natural resources.
A partnership of Research Councils, Government departments and business has recently launched the Living With Environmental Change programme, which aims to provide an evidence base to inform people's choices about mitigation, management and adaptation as our environment changes. NERC plays a leading role in this partnership and will increasingly orient its research effort towards its aims.
Issues concerned with human health are being addressed through NERC's 'Environment and Human Health' research programme. Projects funded through this initiative include investigations of the risks to health from contaminated tap water, respiratory diseases from breathing polluted particles from the air, and how different environments affect birth weight and growth.
Another new programme, due to start in 2008 under the Living With Environmental Change initiative, plans to deal with poverty relief. 'Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation' will create multidisciplinary teams that will address ways to achieve the sustainable use of ecosystems and help to reduce poverty in developing countries.
NERC is also a member of the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences, which was set up to help improve the co-ordination of medical, agricultural, environmental and other areas of research that will help combat disease and eradicate poverty in the some of the world's poorest countries.
Professor Alan Thorpe, NERC's Chief Executive, said, "Environmental research will be key to finding solutions to many of the world's most pressing challenges. As the Geo4 report has demonstrated, these challenges are huge but, through strong national and international collaboration in the research that we fund, we will increase knowledge of the forces that drive global change and determine effective ways to deal with them."
NERC funds world-class science that increases knowledge and understanding of the natural world. It is tackling major environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and natural hazards. NERC receives around £400m a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to provide independent research and training in the environmental sciences.
NERC Press Office
Natural Environment Research Council
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Briefing note: 21/07
- Living With Environmental Change
- Environment and Human Health programme
- Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation
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