Global perspective Human stories

Chronic environmental problems depleting forest resources in South Asia, UN reports

Chronic environmental problems depleting forest resources in South Asia, UN reports

South Asia suffers from excessive land degradation, desertification and habitat fragmentation, depleting the wide variety of forest products that are an important source of food, medicine and income for indigenous people, according to a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The conclusions are found in two reports launched yesterday by UNEP on the “State of the Environment” (SOE) in South Asia. The first was written to target policy makers, while the second, “Children of the Monsoon,” was written by youth.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said that the SOE report was designed to “provide concrete guidance for action planning, policy setting and resource allocation.” It identifies livelihood security, environmental disasters, industrialization, urbanization and biodiversity issues as the five key environmental issues faced by South Asia today.

According to the SOE assessment, these problems stem from the rising energy demands and air pollution caused by the widespread industrialization of South Asian economies. They can only be alleviated by revised policies that factor in environmental and socio-economic issues, the report advises.

The youth version of the report was written by members of youth organizations belonging to the South Asia Youth Environment Network (SAYEN). In the foreword to this edition, Mr. Toepfer commends South Asia for being “a region that is economically poor and at the same time also extremely rich in resources.” He exhorts all members of the region to make a difference to it, both individually and collectively, by drawing on their culture, history and traditions.

Both publications were launched in Colombo, Sri Lanka, two weeks ahead of UNEP’s twenty-second Governing Council meeting and Global Ministerial Environment Forum to be held in Nairobi.