21 Issues for the 21st Century
United Nations Environment Programme UNEP – February 2012
Results of the UNEP Foresight Process on Emerging Environmental Issues
Available online PDF file [60p.] at: http://bit.ly/zNKhAV
“….The UNEP Foresight Panel, involving over 20 distinguished scientists from around the world, spent close to a year discussing and consulting with some 400 other scientists and experts globally via an electronic survey.
The goal was to deliver an international consensus and a priority list of the top emerging environmental issues alongside options for action.
Emerging environmental issues were defined as “issues with either a positive or negative global environmental impact that are recognized by the scientific community as very important to human well-being, but not yet receiving adequate attention from the policy community”.
The issues chosen were termed as “emerging” based on newness, which can be the result of: new scientific knowledge; new scales or accelerated rates of impact; heightened level of awareness; and/or new ways of responding to the issue.
This report is the outcome of that process and presents the identified issues titled: 21 Issues for the 21st Century. These issues cut across all major global environmental themes including food production and food security; cities and land use; biodiversity, fresh water and marine; climate change and energy, technology and waste issues.
Meanwhile, another cluster of issues were chosen that essentially cut across sectors and individual themes. These address questions surrounding such issues as the governance required to more effectively tackle 21st century sustainability challenges, including the urgency to bridge the gap between the scientific and policy communities and the relevance of social tipping points to sustainable consumption….”
2. Emerging Themes – 21 Issues for the 21st Century
Issue 001 Aligning Governance to the Challenges of Global Sustainability
Issue 002 Transforming Human Capabilities for the 21st Century: Meeting Global Environmental Challenges and Moving Towards a Green Economy
Issue 003 Broken Bridges: Reconnecting Science and Policy
Issue 004 Social Tipping Points? Catalyzing Rapid and Transformative Changes in Human Behaviour towards the Environment
Issue 005 New Concepts for Coping with Creeping Changes and Imminent Thresholds
Issue 006 Coping with Migration Caused by New Aspects of Environmental Change Food, Biodiversity and Land
Issue 007 New Challenges for Ensuring Food Safety and Food Security for 9 Billion People
Issue 008 Beyond Conservation: Integrating Biodiversity across the Environmental and Economic Agendas
Issue 009 Boosting Urban Sustainability and Resilience
Issue 010 The New Rush for Land: Responding to New National and International Pressures Freshwaters and Marine Issues
Issue 011 New Insights on Water-Land Interactions: Shift in the Management Paradigm?
Issue 012 Shortcutting the Degradation of Inland Waters in Developing Countries
Issue 013 Potential Collapse of Oceanic Systems Requires Integrated Ocean Governance
Issue 014 Coastal Ecosystems: Addressing Increasing Pressures with Adaptive Governance Climate Change Issues
Issue 015 New Challenges for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: Managing the Unintended Consequences
Issue 016 Acting on the Signal of Climate Change in the Changing Frequency of Extreme Events
Issue 017 Managing the Impacts of Glacier Retreat Energy, Technology, and Waste Issues
Issue 018 Accelerating the Implementation of Environmentally-Friendly Renewable Energy Systems
Issue 019 Greater Risk than Necessary? The Need for a New Approach for Minimizing Risks of Novel Technologies and Chemicals
Issue 020 Changing the Face of Waste: Solving the Impending Scarcity of Strategic Minerals and Avoiding Electronic Waste
Issue 021 The Environmental Consequences of Decommissioning Nuclear Reactors
Appendix 1 Respondents to Electronic Questionnaire
Appendix 2 Description of the Foresight Process