General Studies IIIEnvironment and Ecology

Frontiers report of UNEP, 2022


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has released the annual Frontiers report, 2022 recently.

Key highlights from the Frontiers report of UNEP

Noise Pollution

Unwanted, prolonged and high-level sounds from road traffic, railways or leisure activities, impair human health and well-being.

Noise pollution also threatens animals by altering the communication and behavior of various species including birds, insects and amphibians.

Recommendation: Urban planners must prioritize noise reduction by investing in urban infrastructure that creates positive soundscapes such as tree belts, green walls, and more green spaces in cities.

Phenological Shifts

Plants and animals in terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems use temperature, day length or rainfall as cues for when to bear fruit, migrate or transform in other ways. However, climate change is disrupting these natural rhythms.

Recommendation: Maintaining suitable habitats and ecological connectivity, strengthening the integrity of biological diversity and coordinating international efforts along migratory routes.


Between 2002 and 2016, an average of 423 million hectares of the Earth’s land surface – about the size of the European Union – burned, projecting that dangerous wildfires will likely become more frequent, intense and longer-lasting, including in areas previously unaffected by fires.

Recommendation: Greater investment in reducing wildfire risks; developing prevention and response management approaches; and refinancing remote sensing capabilities, such as satellites and radar.

Significance of the Report:

  • Curbing wildfire is the need of the hour, between 2002 and 2016, an average of 4.23 million square km of the earth’s land surface was burnt every year. This is equivalent to an area around size of the entire European Union.
  • It affects mostly the least developed as well as developing countries, in fact, 67% of the annual global area burned by all types of fires, including wildfires, was on the African continent. In 2021 too, Africa was the most affected region due to wildfires.
  • Wildfires are one of three most important environmental issues to have emerged due to climate change, according to the report. The other two are noise pollution and shift in biological life cycles of plants and animals.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

The UNEP is an international environmental authority engaged in establishing a global environmental agenda and promoting the efficient implementation of the environmental dimension of the United Nations Sustainable Development Programme.

  • The rising pollution levels of the 1960s and 1970s prompted the international leadership to think about having laws and regulations in place for environmental concerns, along the likes of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the world Health Organisation (WHO), etc.
  • These concerns were addressed at the 1972 United Nations Conference on Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference). The Conference led to the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration (Declaration on the Human Environment).
  • The Conference also resulted in the formation of a management body for these concerns, which was later called the United Nations Environment Programme.
  • Headquartered in Nairobi, the UNEP is headed by an Executive Director.

UNEP Objectives

The UNEP’s stated mission is to offer leadership and promote partnership in caring for the environment through informing, inspiring and enabling countries and peoples to enhance their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

The UNEP has a few focus areas, in which they prioritise work. They are:

  1. Climate change
  2. Ecosystem management
  3. Disasters and conflicts
  4. Environmental governance
  5. Resource efficiency
  6. Chemicals and waste
  7. Environment under review

What is Soundscape ?

  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines a soundscape as “[the] acoustic environment as perceived or experienced and/or understood by a person or people, in context”.
  • In other words, soundscape encompasses the way people perceive, experience and respond to the full range of sounds in a place at a given time. 

What is Phenology?

  • It refers to periodic events in biological life cycles.
  • Phenology examines the timing of recurring life-cycle stages, driven by environmental forces, and how interacting species respond to changes in timing within an ecosystem.

Source: UNEP

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