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Cities and Coastal Areas

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From space, the earth looks blue. Over 70 percent of the planet's surface is covered by water, the majority of which is in the world's seas and oceans. Half the world's population lives within 60 km of the sea, and three-quarters of all large cities are located on the coast. However, the seas and oceans are under increasing pressure from pollution. Much of this pollution comes from urban centres, and it creates environmental problems which threaten the viability of the cities themselves.

By over-exploiting the seas as a source of food and as a location for waste disposal, coastal cities compromise the benefits offered by their location. Damage to mangroves, coral reefs and other coastal ecosystems can lead to erosion, siltation and render coastlines more vulnerable to storms and natural disasters. Since most of the earth's water resources are shared by two or more countries, coordinated action, locally, nationally, and internationally is equally important.

UNEP and UN-HABITAT have produced a brochure on “Coastal Area Pollution. The Role of Cities” which shows that damage to ecosystems can threaten the health and livelihoods of urban residents and incur huge economic costs. To read the brochure click here >>

To read more about UNEP's activities in coastal areas click here >>

Other useful links:
Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment (GPA)
UNEP - Regional Seas
UNEP - International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC)
ICLEI - Water Campaign