1. Coral reefs
With three quarters of the world’s coral reefs already at risk – due to threats ranging from invasive species to ocean acidification to sunscreen pollution – the time for action is now. The International Coral Reef Initiative has dubbed 2018 the International Year of the Reef. Things have already kicked off in Fiji, with an announcement from the government of a major new protected site. UN Environment has also just begun a detailed analysis of the status of coral reefs in the Pacific. Watch out for more news and action on reefs as the year progresses.
2. Plastic pollution
Building on the momentum of the 2017 UN Environment Assembly, a major focus of 2018 will be minimizing plastic pollution – by phasing out single-use shopping bags, banning microbeads in cosmetics, and promoting the use of sustainable alternatives. Expect to see more news and major announcements on this front, including from major multinational companies, in 2018.
3. Greening the world of sport
With the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month, the World Cup in Russia in June and July, and the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires in October, 2018 will be a flagship year in the world of sport. Keep an eye out for announcements of new sustainability commitments from major sports organizations. With billions of sports fans around the world, the potential impact here is enormous.
4. Environment and migration
In December, the international community will gather in Morocco to try to strike a new global deal for migrants and refugees. Climate change and environmental degradation have already been officially recognized as drivers of migration - a fact that's driven home by the climate-related disasters that continue to grab headlines.
5. Cities and climate change
A major theme 2018 will be how the world’s cities can take the lead on both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and developing innovative ways to adapt to the changing climate. Landmark moments on this front will be the Resilient Cities Conference in Bonn, Germany in April, and the Global Climate Action Summit, to be hosted by San Francisco in September.
6. Big cats
Over the last century, the world has lost 95 per cent of its tiger population. In just 20 years, Africa’s lion population has declined by more than 40 per cent. Snow leopards, jaguars and similar species are also in danger due to habitat loss, poaching and other threats. In 2018, expect to see a major new push to protect the world’s big cats.