Feature Story

Sajjad Hussain, a farmer and social worker, lives in the remote Kanju Kohsal village in Gilgit-Baltistan, nestled within the Karakoram mountain range in Central Asia.

Like many other locals, Sajjad kept his household livestock in a communal stone-walled corral overnight.

In the middle of the night, he heard murmurings and yelps reminiscent of stray dogs, but upon waking and peering out his window, a snow leopard was spotted on the prowl.

In balance with nature

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Madagascar farmer Edmond is working on a rosewood conservation project coordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Its aim is to safeguard a group of trees that is the world’s most trafficked wild product by value and volume. From Guatemala to Madagascar to Thailand to Zambia, rosewoods have been targeted by timber traffickers who seek to profit especially from its growing demand in China and Viet Nam, principally for furniture.

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The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, set up after the 1986 nuclear reactor disaster in Ukraine, is the third-largest nature reserve in mainland Europe and has become an iconic experiment in rewilding. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is working with Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources to support that renaissance. A six-year project funded by the GEF has helped establish a national biosphere reserve around Chernobyl.

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Every year, between 90,000 and 250,000 metric tons of rubbish enter the oceans that surround South Africa. This marine litter can damage ship engines and propellers. It becomes entangled in nets and other fishing equipment. It drives away tourists. It’s often ingested by birds, mammals, and fish, causing them to choke or become sick. And it can find its way into the human food chain.

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A recent GEF-funded project in the Philippines, implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Bureau, supports safe informal recycling in Camarin and Bagong Silang, two low-income districts in the Manila metropolitan area.

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Many artisanal miners use mercury to separate gold from the ore, exposing themselves, their communities, and the local ecosystems to the negative health and environmental impacts of mercury. A lack of access to education, land title, resources, finance, training and alternative clean and efficient mineral processing technologies hinders miners from switching to alternative, mercury-free gold processing methods.

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To build back greener from the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partners are enhancing support for climate governance across a network of interconnected programs.

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St. Kitts and Nevis’ mountainous terrain is largely made up of sandy loam, cut through with ‘ghauts’ – narrow, deep gullies that deliver rainwater down the slopes. While the ghauts play a key role in maintaining the islands’ forest ecosystems, they are also ideal channels for eroding soil – and shifting land use, coupled with a lack of soil conservation measures, has resulted in acute erosion around the Federation.

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Having engaged dozens of companies and trained over 2,300 individuals at an advanced level, the largely Global Environment Facility funded South Africa Industrial Energy Efficiency project is now witnessing a nation-wide shift and impact. To date, the program has helped companies avoid a staggering $245 million in energy costs in South Africa as well as 5.8 million tons of CO2 emissions. This is roughly equivalent to the per capita emissions of more than 600,000 South Africans.

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The need to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of the Paris Agreement has focused attention on the highly polluting transport sector, which accounts for a quarter of global GHG emissions. According to the World Resources Institute, to meet the Paris Agreement targets, emissions from the transport sector must peak around 2020 and fall 9 percent by 2030.

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