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Despite agreed environmental goals, world still on unsustainable path – UN
The United Nations environment agency today warned that the world “continues to speed down” an unsustainable path in spite of hundreds of internationally agreed goals to protect the planet, and stressed that drastic actions and big-scale measures are needed to reverse this pattern.
“If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and ‘decoupled,’ then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation,” said the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner.
The fifth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5), launched ahead of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil later this month, assessed 90 of the most important environmental goals and objectives and found that significant progress had only been made in four.
The four goals entail eliminating the production and use of substances that deplete the ozone layer, the removal of lead from fuel, increasing access to improved water supplies, and boosting research to reduce pollution of the marine environment
According to the assessment, while some progress was shown in 40 goals, including efforts to reduce deforestation, little or no progress was detected for 24 of them, including climate change, desertification and drought. In addition, there were eight goals which showed no progress and instead further deterioration, such as the state of the world’s coral reefs.
The assessment emphasizes that countries can still meet sustainability targets if current policies are changes and strengthened and provides examples of successful policy initiatives to this end.
GEO 5, which was produced over a period of three years and with the collaboration of over 600 environment experts, also highlights that when international treaties and agreements have tackled goals with specific, measurable targets they have demonstrated considerable success.