Thursday, August 30, 2018

Where have forests been lost and gained?

Image: Global Forest Watch

Global forest area, since 1990, has shrunk by 3.1 million square km. Many of these losses occurred in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Forests actually cover over 30% of the world’s land, but human activity is chipping away at the tree line. Another fact is that the growth and decline of forest cover is not uniform. On one hand some countries are rapidly removing trees from their ecosystem, others are seeing increases in their forest cover.

The forest area is in decline and one of the reason for this is expanding agricultural land use and increasing demand for wood and paper products. At the outset of the 20th century, there was approximately 50 million square km  of forest around the world. This has shrunk to 40 million square km. Some of the areas have shocking figure - like West Africa, for example, has lost a shocking 90% of its forest cover over the last century – in a number of countries, all of the forest outside of protected areas has been logged, while illegal logging threatens parks and reserves. Similarly, the Amazon Rainforest which is one of the most important carbon sinks on the planet, has faced wrath from human activity over the last few decades. Across the Atlantic Ocean, Africa is also grappling with deforestation.

Forest renewal

The bright side of the story is that many of the governments are increasingly protecting habitat in the form of nature reserves and national parks. China, for example, is a place where there have been big increases in forested areas. Europe, in particular, has seen widespread regeneration of forests over the past century. Thankfully, the 5 countries with the most forest cover – Russia, Brazil, Canada, U.S., and China – are attempting and moving towards forest renewal.

Image: World Bank

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (or Global Goals for Sustainable Development) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations in 2015. Also known as "Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," the goals are actually a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Based on the successes of Millennium Development Goals, the 17 goals include new areas like climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. Here is the list of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) to transform our world:

GOAL 1: No Poverty

GOAL 2: Zero Hunger

GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being

GOAL 4: Quality Education

GOAL 5: Gender Equality

GOAL 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

GOAL 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

GOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality

GOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

GOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

GOAL 13: Climate Action

GOAL 14: Life Below Water

GOAL 15: Life on Land

GOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions

GOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal

As the lead UN development agency, UNDP is helping implementation of the Goals through their work in over 170 countries and territories. However, achieving these 17 goals will also require the partnership and support of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations!

Goal 11 of this list 'Sustainable cities and communities' aims to significantly transform the way we build and manage our urban spaces. It also involves investment in public transport, creating green public spaces, and improving urban planning and management in a way that is both participatory and inclusive.

Green architecture is the new 'mantra' of emerging generation of architects!

Green architecture is the new 'mantra' of emerging generation of architects wish to do more than creating beautiful architectural designs. The objective of architecture is to shelter and enhance man's life on earth and to fulfill his belief in the nobility of his existence. These new designers are out to protect the environment and create designs that make great places to live, work, and play. These architects who design with purpose think of local climate, culture, and economic conditions before starting on to a new project.

"Architecture to me is about this gracefulness of life, about loving the interplay of forms in graded light, the visual connections between spaces and the landscape variation that includes plant life, air, earth, and water as part of each building," says Aashish Karode, the Principal, Planning & Design Services at Design Atelier, New Delhi, India. He further states, "I believe that improved performance and sustainable practices in Architecture and Urban Design have a staggering impact on busineses as also the entire economy. In fact a 60% of the power consumed by the economy is accounted by the built environment".

Architecture to designers like Aashish Karode begins with the excitement of creating lively environments where the symbolism of the architectural artifact and the embedded landscape enliven the whole ensemble.