Skip to main content.
Enviropaedia Sponsors and Supporters

Environmental Degradation

( Article Type: Explanation )

Over the past 45 years, just over one tenth of the earth’s vegetated soils have become so degraded that their natural functions have been damaged to the point where restoration will be very costly, if not impossible. In the developing world, more than 95% of urban sewage is released untreated into surface waters, where it poses a serious threat to human health.

Urbanisation is encroaching on more and more arable land, reducing the available land for farming and forcing existing land to be farmed more intensively. Countries throughout the world are being forced to look at the effects that their activities are having on the natural resources on which they depend. Everyone has a responsibility to prevent environmental degradation, from the individual picking up litter to stop an area looking dirty and neglected, to a country that must stop its waste from poisoning its water supplies.

Environmental degradation is a global problem that requires global solutions. Those solutions were started with the initiative of Agenda 21and Local Agenda 21, which focus on local action to deal with local issues as a start to responding to the wider, regional and national issues. Much of South Africa’s new environmental legislation is being driven by the need to respond to the calls within Agenda 21.