Global Urbanization Threats Biodiversity- Says UNEP


Global urbanization will have significant implications for biodiversity and ecosystems if current trends keep on continuing. The report was released by United Nations Environment Program with the support of 123 scientists at the United Nations Convention on Bio Diversity.

The assessment further states that over 60 percent of the land projected to become urban by 2030 has yet to be built. And that his presents a major opportunity to greatly improve global sustainability by promoting low-carbon, resource-efficient urban development that will  reduce adverse effects on biodiversity and improve quality of life.

The urban expansion, which is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030, with urban populations set to double to around 4.9 billion in the same period.will  heavily impact  on water and other natural resources .

Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary of the CBD said that “The way our cities are designed, the way people live in them and the policy decisions of local authorities will define, to a large extent, future global sustainability,”

According to the report, urban expansion is occurring fast in areas close to biodiversity ‘ hot spots’ and coastal zones and in places resources to implement sustainable urban planning are often lacking such as large and mid-size settlements in sub-Saharan Africa, India and China, according to Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, more than half the global population already resides in cities and this number is projected to increase, with 60 percent of the population living in urban areas by 2030. “This report makes a strong argument for greater attention to be paid by urban planners and managers to the nature-based assets within city boundaries. Sustainable urban development that supports valuable ecosystems presents a major opportunity for improving lives and livelihoods, and accelerating the transition to an inclusive green economy,” he further stated.

Urban green spaces  perform important ecosystem services,  as filtering dust, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and improving air quality and   delivering important health benefits as  trees  reducing the prevalence of childhood asthma and allergies. “Cities need to learn how to better protect and enhance biodiversity, because rich biodiversity can exist in cities and is extremely critical to people’s health and well-being,” said Professor Thomas Elmqvist of the Stockholm Resilience Center and Scientific Editor of the report.

The report Cities and Biodiversity Outlook demonstrates how urban areas can play a central role in achieving 20 key biodiversity goals ,which were agreed upon in 2010 by parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity while also help preventing the  extinction of known species , through research and investment by zoos, aquaria and museums, many of which are managed by city authorities.

The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook was produced by the Secretariat of the CBD in partnership with the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC) and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity operates under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The full report can be downloaded