Poor progress on global sustainability goals

18th June 2012

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Related tags

  • Central government ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Natural resources



Research by UNEP has revealed that of 90 internationally agreed targets aimed at tackling climate change, water quality and biodiversity loss, significant progress has been made in just four areas

In the fifth edition of its Global environmental outlook (GEO-5), UNEP warns that without urgent and coordinated international action to reverse unsustainable resource use and halt harmful environmental impacts, ecosystems will be irreversibly harmed.

“If current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail, then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation,” said UNEP’s executive director, Achim Steiner.

The 550-page report confirms that while global efforts have seen some success in halting ozone depletion, eliminating lead from fuels and improving access to water supplies, less progress has been made on tackling deforestation, harmful air pollution and adoption of sustainable development principles by governments.

Of the 90 goals examined, little or no progress had been made on 24, including the mitigation of climate change and its impacts on biodiversity, and recognition of the significance of ecosystems.

Furthermore, for eight of the internationally agreed objectives, including the conservation of wetlands and protecting the world’s coral reefs, the situation has actually worsened.

“GEO-5 reminds world leaders and nations meeting at Rio+20 why a decisive and defining transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient, job-generating green economy is urgently needed,” said Steiner.

“The moment has come to put away the paralysis of indecision, acknowledge the facts and face up to the common humanity that unites all peoples.”

The report concludes that sustainable development is possible, if governments set more specific targets and strengthen policies aimed at lowering environmental impacts such as discouraging the burning of fossil fuels and unsustainable consumption patterns.

Most importantly, societies’ understanding of the value of natural resources must change, with the report recommending that wealth must be redefined as more than simply GDP.


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