UNEP Year Book 2013 released in Nairobi Feb. 18

Posted by Joan Eamer

Each year, the United Nations Environment Programme spotlights two emerging issues in its yearbook. In 2013, one of the feature issues is The View from the Top: Searching for responses to a rapidly changing Arctic.

Emerging issue features are written by author teams assembled by UNEP. For the Arctic feature, I was a team member, developing material for the sections on trends in sea ice, Arctic biota, fisheries and governance issues. The team, led by Dr. Robert Corell, and guided by the chapter’s science writer Fred Pearce, met in Norway in August to produce a first, rough draft. We built on this over the next couple of months and through two rounds of review. Condensing a huge subject and a range of viewpoints into 14 pages was definitely challenging.

The Year Book was released at the opening session of the 2013 UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum. The press release and the Arctic chapter are both available from UNEP.

Here is the summary at the top of the chapter:

“In the fragile Arctic region the extent of sea ice was at a record low in September 2012. Land ice is also retreating, while snow is disappearing and permafrost is thawing. Rapid environmental change in the Arctic, as a result of climate change, is providing new development opportunities including easier access to oil and gas, minerals and fisheries. It is also threatening ecosystems – with ice-associated animals especially at risk. Changes in the Arctic will have consequences far beyond this region, including a global rise in sea levels and probably more extreme weather across much of the northern hemisphere. These current and future consequences of climate change require urgent responses. Arctic and non-Arctic countries share responsibility for protecting this region, in particular by limiting their greenhouse gas emissions.”

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