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International Environmental Issues

Climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation and air and water pollution are not confined by human-imposed boundaries as waterways, watersheds, oceans, biodiversity, ecosystems and the atmosphere tend to span countries, continents or the globe.

Perhaps the most ubiquitous international environmental issue is climate change. Climate change cooperation has been stalled by North-South contentions surrounding inequalities, the right to development, financial support, technology transfer and the ability of the world’s most vulnerable nations to adapt.

Moreover, in a highly globalized world, raw materials, finished goods and waste are transported across nations and continents. Often times resulting in environmental degradation and pollution throughout the entire life cycle of a product or process.

The demand for a good in one country can result in environmental degradation of another country. For example, the demand for timber or agricultural products in the United States can cause rampant deforestation in tropical regions. Also, the excessive consumption of electronic devices such as cell phones or laptops generates thousands of tons of electronic waste (e-waste), which contains heavy metals and other toxic materials. E-waste generated by developed nations is often exported to countries such as China, India or other places with lax environmental laws and enforcement.

The realization that environmental issues are more often than not of transboundary nature requires international collaboration and cooperation. As a result, numerous international agreements have entered into force in the hopes of fostering a concerted effort in addressing some of the most pressing problems. Some of the most widely known international environmental agreements include the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the Kyoto Protocol, CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), and the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.


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Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 Last Updated on 2013-10-29 21:21:58 The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP)* announced at the Rio+20 Summit on June 17, 2012. the launch of the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 (IWR 2012). The report measures the wealth of nations. Download PDF | Read more about the report The report presents a new economic index, which looks beyond the traditional short term economic and development yardsticks of gross domestic product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI). The Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI) assesses changes in a country’s productive base, including produced, human, and natural capital over time. By taking a more holistic approach, the IWI shows governments the true state of their nation’s wealth and the sustainability of its growth. Twenty countries were assessed in the IWR 2012 over a period of 19 years (1990-2008). Together they represent more than half of... More »
The North American Mosaic Last Updated on 2013-10-24 15:12:08 An Overview of Key Environmental Issues The North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation obliges the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation to “periodically address the state of the environment in the territories of the Parties.” To meet this obligation, the Secretariat has developed this report—The North American Mosaic: An Overview of Key Environmental Issues—with the support of environmental reporting experts from the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States. This report describes a wide variety of environmental trends and conditions across North America. The breadth and diversity of the subject are astounding: from tiny invasive zebra mussels to global greenhouse gases measured by the teragram; from the last remaining vaquita porpoises to vast expanses of boreal forests and marine ecosystems; from invisible... More »
Forest environmental income and the rural poor Last Updated on 2013-10-13 23:59:11     There has in recent years been a growing recognition of the important role played by environmental goods and services in the livelihoods of poor people. This recognition was, in part, spawned by the rising awareness of the extent of poverty that emerged in the 1980s. Associated issues have also contributed, including the focus on natural resource scarcity as a cause of violent conflict and the often sharp divide between conservation and development interests. From a more practical perspective, studies of income from natural resources should represent important input into policy making for rural areas. And accurate mapping of poverty, which is emphasized in multilateral initiatives such as poverty reduction strategies and the Millennium Development Goals, requires inclusion of all sources of income, including natural capital such as forests and woodlands. Here, we... More »
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Last Updated on 2013-10-12 23:55:15 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a federal agency within the United States Department of Commerce.  As a science-based operational agency tasked with monitoring climate and changes in the environment, NOAA is responsible for the study of the atmosphere and the oceans.  The agency issues daily weather forecasts and storm warnings, restores coastline, aids the flow of marine commerce, and manages fisheries.  NOAA's activities facilitate weather- and climate-sensitive economic activity that account for roughly one-third of the country's gross domestic product (GDP)[1]. The agency also responds to natural and man-made maritime disasters, operates a complex network of oceanographic, meteorological and atmospheric data-collecting products and services, and manages marine mammals, marine endangered... More »
Wheat Last Updated on 2013-09-11 15:43:44 Wheat is any of a number of species of the genus Triticum within the grass family of Poaceae. Wheat is an important grain food crop supplying the second highest caloric intake for humans, closely behind rice. Wheat is used to produce flour for bread, pasta, couscous and other foods. However, wheat generally consumes large amounts of nitrate and other fertilizers, so that the outcome of widespread wheat farming is often associated with extensive water pollution impacts, expecially related to nitrate laden runoff. Wheat is one of the earliest cultivated crops, and has a clear association with the emergence of sedentary agriculture around twelve millennia ago. Products Made From Wheat: 1.  Crossaint; 2.  Wheat Flour; 3. Noodles; 4. Wheat Dalia; 5.  Sewai; 6.  Refined Wheat Flour; 7.  Common Brown Bread; 8. ... More »