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Biodiversity & Environment

Annual Frontiers Report 2022

  • 23 Feb 2022
  • 5 min read

For Prelims: Annual Frontiers Report, United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, wildfires, climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, greenhouse gases, lightning, Savannah ecosystem

For Mains: Role of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in addressing environmental issue, Environmental Pollution & Degradation

Why in News?

Recently, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released its Annual Frontiers Report named Noise, Blazes and Mismatches.

  • The document has been released 10 days ahead of the UN Environment Assembly.
  • The Frontiers report identifies and offers solutions to three environmental issues: urban noise pollution, wildfires and phenological shifts that merit attention and action from governments and the public at large to address the triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

What is the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)?

  • About: The UNEP is a leading global environmental authority established on 5th June 1972.
    • It works to identify and draw attention to emerging issues of environmental concern.
  • Functions: It sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for global environment protection.
  • Major Reports: Emission Gap Report, Adaptation Gap Report, Global Environment Outlook, Frontiers, Invest into Healthy Planet.
  • Major Campaigns: Beat Pollution, UN75, World Environment Day, Wild for Life.
  • Headquarters: Nairobi, Kenya.

What is the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA)?

  • It is the governing body of the UN Environment Programme.
  • It is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment.
  • It meets biennially to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law.
  • It was created in June 2012, during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also referred to as RIO+20.

What are the Key Highlights of the Report?

  • Urban Noise Pollution:
    • The unwanted, prolonged, and high-level sounds from road traffic, railways, or leisure activities, impair human health and well-being.
    • Chronic annoyance and sleep disturbance caused by traffic can result in severe heart diseases and metabolic disorders with the very young, and mostly affect the elderly and marginalised communities near busy roads.
  • Wildfires:
    • The trends towards more dangerous fire-weather conditions are likely to increase due to rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gasses and the attendant escalation of wildfire risk factors.
    • Climate change can prompt extreme wildfires, generating lightning that can ignite other fires, far beyond the fire front and creating a so-called hazardous feedback loop.
      • Such extreme events are disastrous for human health and the environment.
    • Wildfires have also become more common in the Savannah ecosystem, which has affected over one-fourth of species in the Savannah ecosystem.
    • Wildfires are also responsible for air pollution.
      • According to a global study published in September 2021, there is a link between the impact of wildfire-related pollution and human deaths
    • Wildfires seldom spread to humid tropical forests in the past. But these forests are now more vulnerable due to deforestation and forest fragmentation.
  • Phenological Shifts:
    • Plants and animals in terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems use temperature, day length or rainfall as cues for when to bear fruit, migrate or transform in other ways.
    • However, climate change disrupts these natural rhythms as plants and animals are being pushed out of sync with their natural rhythms, leading to mismatches, such as when plants shift life cycle stages faster than herbivores.
      • Phenology is the timing of recurring life cycle stages, driven by environmental forces, and how species interacting within an ecosystem respond to changing conditions.

What are the Recommendations of the Report?

  • Appreciating and adopting indigenous fire management techniques.
  • A preventive approach, rather than reactive approach by engaging vulnerable groups, will help adapt to the wildfires.
  • It is important to enhance fire-fighting capabilities and strengthen community resilience-building programmes
  • It is important to focus on long-range weather forecasting.
  • Focus on remote-sensing capabilities such as satellites, ground-based radar, lightning detection as well as data handling.

Source: BS

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