Seeing the Big Picture: “State of the Planet” Reports

An illustration of the various causes of extinction.



There is a lot, A LOT, of information currently available on the topic of the environment and sustainability. In the past five years alone, there were more than 10,000 books published with “climate change” in the title. It is easy to get bogged down in the sheer proliferation of it all. How can the average Jane get a big picture idea of where things stand with the state of the planet?

An excellent group of resources for keeping up on the latest environmental issues and research are the authoritative “big picture” reports published annually or biennially by a few major non-profits and international organizations. These reports, usually aimed at a general audience as well as decision and policy makers, provide analysis of recent developments and hot topics along with substantive data, often in the form of smartly designed graphs and maps.

State of the World (World Watch)


The Living Planet Report (WWF)


Global Environment Outlook (UNEP) See also GEOdata, the companion database, annual GEO Yearbook, and technical and regional GEO reports.


Human Development Report (UNDP)

World Development Report (World Bank)

State of the World’s Cities (UN HABITAT)

State of the World’s Forests (FAO) See also the FAO’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture and State of Food and Agriculture.

World Resources Report (World Resources Institute, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank and the World Resources Institute)

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment reports (IPPC)

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