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World Leaders Must Embrace Sustainable Development, UN Panel Says

Ban Ki-moon – World Economic Forum 2012

An alarming new report from the U.N. urges world leaders to address the world’s increasingly unsustainable trajectory of development. The report warns of future food, water, and energy shortages as the global population expands to a potential 9 billion inhabitants by 2050. If world leaders don’t act fast, 3 billion people could be pushed into poverty over the next 30 years.

The report entitled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: a Future Worth Choosing” was authored by the U.N.’s new high-level panel on global sustainability. The panel is a new initiative from UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon who has made sustainable development a central plank of his second term in office.

In total, the panel came up with 56 recommendations to integrate sustainable development in global economic models and make it a practical consideration for governments. At the heart of the panel’s approach was a focus on placing people squarely within discussions over sustainable development.

Finland’s president Tarja Halonen, co-chair of the new panel, stated that “eradication of poverty and improving equity must remain priorities for the world community,” she said. “The panel has concluded that empowering women and ensuring a greater role for them in the economy is critical for sustainable development.”

The aim of the report was therefore to provide human solutions to both environmental and social problems. And a closer look at the world environmental problems leaves much to be worried about.

Greenhouse gases are rising at unprecedented levels while marine ecosystems face mass extinctions and water resources exhibit increasing scarcity. In order to feed the world in 2050, the UN FAO estimates that agricultural production needs to jump by 70%.

In order to tackle the world’s pressing problems, the panel call on governments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and invest heavily in greener forms of development. Governments should also work together on an “evergreen revolution” to double agricultural productivity while reducing resource use and the loss of biodiversity.

Image CC licensed by World Economic Forum: Ban Ki-moon – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012

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