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UNEP Year eBook 2014 Update - Rapid change in the Arctic

The Arctic is changing twice as fast in terms of warming as the rest of the world. What happens to migratory species in the Arctic will affect what happens in the overwintering grounds of those species, and what happens to the melting glaciers and permafrost thaw will affect sea level rise in the rest of the world.

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Rapid changes in the Arctic require urgent responses within the region and from the wider world. Since climate change dominates the current transformation of the Arctic environment, reducing global greenhouse gas emissions is the most important action that needs to be taken.

Building resilience and adapting to inevitable climate change is of great importance. In view of the potential for major environmental damage, careful consideration needs to be given to a precautionary approach to economic development. A precaut ionary approach requi res measures such as development moratoriums unti l ful l assessments have established risks to the environment and human systems – and until adequate management frameworks are in place. Because of the rapid pace of change in the fragile Arctic region, it is essential to develop strengthened systems for monitoring and for provision of early warnings.

The leading scientific research being carried out in the Arctic, and successful inter-governmental cooperation on protecting the region’s environment, provide examples for the rest of the world.