United Nations and the Environment Essay

UNEP / environment / pollution / waste / climate

Essay Topic:

The role of UNEP in the world’s monitoring of water, air and land pollution.

Essay Questions:

How does the United Nations Organization influence the environmental global issues?

What are the UN’s major environmental issues and activities?

How are water, air and land pollution prevented with the help of the UNEP?

Thesis Statement:

Environment has suffered from many negative influences that need to be stopped or be prevented in order to be sure that future generations will be able to survive. UNEP is the program that does a lot for the planet in general and environment in particular.


United Nations and the Environment Essay

Table of contents:

1. Introduction

2. Major environmental issues and UN’s activities:

a. Climate change

b. Water

c. Air pollution

d. Land use

e. Waste

3. Conclusion

Introduction: Such a huge structure as the United Nations Organization includes several subsidiary organs, which deal with different types of issues. The environmental crisis has become a vital issues nowadays the UN did not leave it unnoticed and has addressed some of the major contemporary environmental issues. It created a special program called the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). UNEP proclaims environment for development and is aimed to save the best that nature has given Earth. Every person on the planet has already felt at least some minimal influences caused by constant deterioration of the environment. The pollution of water, soil and air by various numerous chemicals has produced a terrible effect on the planet’s environment. Most of the people live under a constant threat of a cataclysm. Recent “Katrina” and “Rita” events in the United States are the best proof. Environmental pollution causes a large number of awful diseases. Even a special branch of Law –Environmental Law has been created in order to prevent “environmental violence”. Urbanization has caused the destruction of valuable forests. One of the brightest examples is the situation in the Pacific North-West. Environment has suffered from many negative influences that need to be stopped or be prevented in order to be sure that future generations will be able to survive. UNEP is the program that does a lot for the planet in general and environment in particular. It took control over the major environmental issues such as: water, air pollution, climate change, proper land use and waste that create so much environmental troubles.


2. Major environmental issues and UN’s activities:

2.a. Climate change. The change of climate of the planet’s surface leads to the problem of greenhouse gases which “account for around 98% of the environmental pressure leading to climate change”[1]. They are: nitrous oxide (N2O), carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The activity of these gases leas to the Global Warming Effect, as all three of them are able to trap heat in the atmosphere. The danger lies in the Earth’s rising temperature, which makes the glaciers melt. All the energy that turns out to being the atmosphere finds a way out through natural cataclysms such as storms and others. The UNEP’s impact in the situation is great as it creates summits where countries give commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. UN membership makes them to be more responsible to their commitments. UN’s primary contribution into solving this problem was the agreement signed in Kyoto in December 1997 which started to function since February 2005. The agreement states that UN countries “shall individually or jointly reduce their aggregate emissions of a “basket” of six greenhouse gases to 5% below 1990 levels by the period 2008-2012”[1]. The best solution for this problem should be non-carbon energy, which is very expensive to install but safe in use. It goes without saying that it is very hard for the countries to change their energy sources, nevertheless is should be done for the sake of the planet and future generations. People need to reduce their energy spends and be committed to sustainable consumption.

2.b. Water. Water is the source of life for every single being on the planet. Therefore its quality dictates the level of the well being for these beings. Water is used for practically every sphere of human life. Water pollution has become the problem that needs rapid solutions. Lack of water causes loss of the harvest and even death of people from different diseases transmitted through water such as cholera. At the present moment, 460 million people live in territories with a water flaw [2]. The situation needs to change.The wastes, which are thrown into water, produce uneducable harm. The prognosis states that water obtained from aquifers is under threat due to the fact they can possibly collapse from such an intense use. Polluted water produces food unsuitable for eating and various diseases that create an unhealthy generation. This puts public water supply under danger, too. UNEP actively participates in finding a solution for the water issue. One of the brightest examples is the “Water for the Future” project, which includes cooperative work of UN countries over the proper water use. At the moment UNEP is trying to gather the data evaluating the water assessment on the planet in order to find the best way out of the water scarcity issue. It has already analyzed the long-term water resources, the public water supply and the problem of wastewater. The best option offered it special water treatment and strict control over the water «flow». It is also possible to keep water clean with the help of special filters.

2.c. Air pollution. One of the main issues of air pollution is fuel combustion. The exhaust brings a lot of chemicals to the air. These chemicals literally start dominating and it especially concerns SO2 emissions. The fuel combustion happens due to different means of transport and numerous enterprises requiring energy. Fuel combustion influences water and soil, leaving a terrible impact on the quality of oxygen and agricultural products. Agricultural products are produced by plants and therefore use oxygen for growth. As it has been mentioned the most dangerous element of fuel combustion is sulphur. And all the attempts to reduce the air pollution are concentrated in the possibility to reduce the emission of sulphur during fuel combustion and NOx produced when petroleum burns [3]. Once again UNEP’s priority is the creation of special filters and using another type of fuel. Which puts the countries in an economically unbeneficial position one more time. UN’s summits are concentrated on gathering statistics concerning this problem in order to evaluate exactly the danger and the location of primary sources of air pollution. This type of pollution strongly influences human health. The industrial activity of the countries is almost unstoppable. This is may be why UNEP has not achieved serious agreements on this term. The need to change the industrial policy frightens the countries. One contemporary way out has been offered – limiting the amount of cars per person/family and entering “bicycle” weekends. Nowadays a lot of laboratories under UNEP’s guidance work on creating natural equivalents to chemical joins.

2.d. Land use. Proper land use means that protected areas of land and water will remain untouched and save from the human factor. This especially concerns inland waters. It is no surprise that a lot of forests are nowadays cut from the surface of the planet [4]. Forests are the source of possible salvation for the planet’s atmosphere. Forests remove the gas emissions of fuel combustions. They decontaminate the atmosphere from the pollution. Land use also implies the correct use of agricultural territories and the division between temporary crops and permanent pastures . Land use is especially important in terms of the ability to provide food for the population. UNEP has shown concern about the land issue and it was especially revealed in UNEP’s Strategy on Land Use Management and Soil Conservation and UNEP Programme on Success in Land Degradation and Desertification along with GPA (Global Programme of Action). All this measures of collective control over the land use have already leaded to certain results. UNEP has made an impact in community participation in the proper land use process. Farmers started to use fewer pesticides and nitrates, which penetrate soil, while growing agricultural products, which leave the soil fertile and the population healthy. UNEP works on making the countries realize the further harm and even danger of incorrect land usage. The 2005 September summit has raised the land use issue and the discussion resulted in the agreement of further cooperation.

2.e. Waste.UNEP gives special attention to the problem of commercial and industrial waste, which has the worst impact on the enviroment development. Waste cause water and soil pollution because even if the waste is stored it may still a runout to the external enviroment. When a lot of waste is kept together and especially for a long period of time contamination may occur as often some kind of soil infection appears. The process of decomposition of the waste is also very dangerous for the health of people due to the existance of different harmful gases. According to the UNEP statistics division waste can also cause uncontrolled fires. One of the best solutions is an over-organized recycling system, which is to include all types of materials not only paper or plastic. UNEP has proclaimed the start of a sustainable consumption company that will start the new era of waste reduction, especially when it goes about municipal waste. The 1898 Basel convention came to the conclusion to remove waste from “environmental” UN countries to the third-world countries. This decision nowadays seems to be unethical as each country has a right to live in clean enviroment and hazardous wastes influence the planet no matter where they are. One of the best solutions offered by UNEP was the prohibition to found an industrial company that is unable to cover the expenses connected with the waste-issue and the limitation of the number of companies producing wastes and especially those that need to transport waste.

Conclusion: The contemporary enviroment is very weak and need help promptly. One of the keys to solve this problem is to act together. The United Nations Organizations in general and the United Nations Environmental Programme in particular have contributed a lot to the enviroment improvement process. The problem of environmental pollution and the necessity to create new ways out of harsh environmental crisis the planet is in have united many countries under UNEP. UNEP has performed such projects as the CARICOM project, the ESCWA project and the ECOWAS project. All of these projects present environmental data about different regions of different countries. The planet’s enviroment has suffered some serious changes and most of them are very dangerous. This is the reason UNEP’s interference into the course of event is simply necessary. UN includes all the most powerful counties in the world and it is them who need to think over new ways of prevention of further environmental pollution. The enviroment of the planet is its future and the future of the humanity. UNEP provide the example for the rest of the countries of what measures need to be taken in order to reduce the hazardous wastes and keep the planet’s water suitable for drinking and soil for growing crops. UNEP has made a great contribution and owing to its summits a lot of positive environmental projects were held. Un addresses a lot of environmental issues, but still there still exist a lot of problems to work on in order to preserve the planet for future population.


Specially located in the areas of Southern Africa, Northern Africa, the Middle East and South Western Asia

“Land under permanent pastures refers to land used permanently (five years or more) for herbaceous forage crops, either cultivated or growing wild (wild prairie or grazing land)”[United Nations Statistics Division].

1989 Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal


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