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UN environment report sees regional challenges

UN environment report sees regional challenges
LONDON - The extent of the ecological and humanitarian crisis facing the world varies from region to region but has many common themes, the United Nations said in a report yesterday.
AFRICA: The key environmental issues include degradation of land, habitat and coastal areas, deforestation, water scarcity, coastal area erosion and natural disasters such as floods and droughts, the U.N. Environment Programme report said. All of these are exacerbated by a seemingly endless rash of armed conflicts across the poverty-stricken continent. \"Tackling the region\'s environmental problems is now not just an option but is critical to achieving sustainable development without which poverty will continue to worsen, contributing even more to overexploitation of the environment.\" ASIA AND THE PACIFIC: In the world\'s largest region by land area and human population, land and forest degradation, habitat loss, water scarcity and pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change jostle with waste management and natural disasters. \"Some parts of the region are under severe stress, placing livelihood options for millions of people at risk,\" UNEP said. EUROPE: The key environmental challenges are broadly similar to Africa and Asia, including forest and soil degradation, water quality and quantity, coastal erosion and greenhouse gas emissions with the addition of genetically modified organisms. \"Although its wealth would help the region cope more easily with the environmental challenges, it could not tackle global crises such as climate change on its own,\" the UN said. LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN: As with Africa, Asia and Europe the problems remain broadly similar with the addition of land tenure, overexploitation of fisheries, spills of hazardous substances and natural disasters. \"Without more effective policy responses, the current trend towards worsening environmental conditions is likely to continue,\" the UN said. NORTH AMERICA: Added to many of the problems facing the other regions, North America also has to deal with heavy usage of pesticides, management of old forests, invasion by non-indigenous plant and animal species and the quality of the Great Lakes. WEST ASIA: Water management and food production and security are critical to the development of the region, the UN said. \"Countries in the region will also continue to grapple with the problems of drought and desertification, both of which place heavy limitations on environment and development,\" it said. POLAR REGIONS: Unlike most other areas of the world, the Arctic and Antarctic suffer mostly from problems generated elsewhere - particularly climate change and pollution. REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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