Environmental degradation is the deterioration of the environment through depletion of resources such as air, water and soil; the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of wildlife.
Environmental degradation is one of the ten threats officially cautioned by the High Level Threat Panel of the United Nations. The World Resources Institute (WRI), UNEP (the United Nations Environment Programme), UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) and the World Bank have made public an important report on health and the environment worldwide on May 1, 1998.
The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction defines environmental degradation as “The reduction of the capacity of the environment to meet social and ecological objectives, and needs”.
Environmental degradation is of many types. When natural habitats are destroyed or natural resources are depleted, environment is degraded.
Environmental Change and Human Health, a special section of World Resources 1998-99 in this report describes how preventable illnessesand premature deaths are still occurring in very large numbers. If vast improvements are made in human health, millions of people will be living longer, healthier lives than ever before. In these poorest regions of the world an estimated 11 million children, or about one in five, will not live to see their fifth birthday, primarily because of environment-related diseases. Child mortality is larger than the combined populations ofNorway and Switzerland, and mostly due to malaria, acute respiratory infections or diarrhea — illnesses that are largely preventable.