Feature Story

Sargassum is free-floating brown macro-algae that lives in the temperate and tropical oceans of the world. In the open ocean, the floating seaweed provides important ecosystem services by acting as habitats for a diverse group of marine animals. It provides food, shade, and shelter to many types of specialized fish, crustaceans, and turtles. When it reaches the coastline, it provides fertilizer for the plant ecosystems that protect the shoreline from erosion and promotes biodiversity of marine bird and wildlife.

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The Solomon Islands is a nation of hundreds of volcanic islands, coral atolls and reefs in the South Pacific. It's a country of extraordinary natural beauty but it's exposed to many hazards like floods, cyclones, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

Climate change is the biggest challenge yet - the impacts of rising sea levels and more intense weather events are multiplying the risks and posing serious threats to the people of the Solomon Islands.

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By Chris Luebkeman, Arup fellow and director; Jonelle Simunich, senior strategist, global foresight, research and innovation, Arup

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Only a land-based species could have called this planet Earth, since more than 70% of it is covered by sea. All life originated on the oceans and still depends on them. They regulate the climate, absorb much of the carbon that humanity emits, and produce the main source of protein for over three billion people. The ecosystem goods and services they provide are estimated to be worth US $12 trillion.

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While the idea of an island may call to mind the image of a beach paradise, for the world’s 51 Small Island Developing States this is all too often a fragile idyll.

Small, often economically at the mercy of their larger neighbours and world markets, and at the forefront of the reality of climate change, many of these states face a raft of challenges to their ongoing sustainable development. And while it may seem counter-intuitive, among the first of these is water.

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Palau, an archipelago of over 576 islands in the western tropical Pacific Ocean, is home to a wide variety of plants and animals, many of which are endangered or can be found nowhere else on the planet.

The environment forms the basis of Palau’s culture and economy, with much of the population reliant on natural resources, either for subsistence or insofar as they support tourism, the nation’s largest income source.

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South Africa’s agricultural sector is responsible for devastating impacts on the environment.

Most South African farms are privately owned, commercial operations, a fact that has somewhat naturally led to a one-dimensional approach to management: they’re out to make a profit. Many of these farmers leave their livestock to graze unattended in large camps, sometimes for months at a time. While the costs are low to the farmers, this system – known as paddocking – has significant negative impacts on the health of South Africa’s land, especially in arid areas.

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“When I was a boy, the lake was beautiful,” Bernardo San Juan says. “In the early 70s we would picnic here and swim in the lake. We would just bring a pot and some rice, we would catch fish to cook and drink the lake water. Today, it’s a different story.

Today, in fact, the lake is hardly visible. Instead, vast swathes of the water around the lakeside Filipino town of Cardona are a sea of green, fish pens and navigation channels alike clogged by an impenetrable mass of water hyacinth.

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By Celine Herweijer, partner, innovation and sustainability, and Will Evison, assistant director, PwC

Why does almost every big business in the world set targets? Because they understand the power of setting – and tracking - progress against them, in order to make things happen.

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In the past decade, the African elephant population has declined by an estimated 111,000, according to a 2016 report, primarily due to poaching.

Malawi, identified by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as a “country of primary concern”, has lost 50 per cent of its elephant population since the 1980s.

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