New UN Report Highlights Urgent Need to Address Damaging Trends
Critical Trends Report
Global Challenge, Global Opportunity
New York, 13 August If current patterns of development continue, nearly
half of the world's people will suffer from water shortages within the next 25
years, the use of fossil fuels, along with greenhouse gas emissions, will grow,
and the world's forests will continue to disappear, according to a new United
Nations report issued today by the Secretariat for the upcoming World Summit on
With projections indicating that the world's population will grow by about two
billion people by 2025, the new report, Global Challenge, Global Opportunity,
underscores the need for greatly increased efforts to support sustainable
development to better manage global resources in a rapidly changing world.
"These problems are urgent and must be addressed now," according to
Nitin Desai, Johannesburg Summit Secretary-General. "We have to change,
from the present model of development to sustainable development or else we
risk further jeopardizing human security everywhere."
According to the report, air pollution kills three million people a year, 300
million suffer from malaria, 1 billion lack access to clean water and 2 billion
lack access to proper sanitation facilities. There are over 2.5 billion people
who depend on fuelwood for cooking and heating-a major cause of indoor air
pollutionand people in developed countries are using up to 10 times as
much fossil fuel as people in developing countries.
Agricultural production is expanding to feed more mouths, yet this expansion
has heavily contributed to deforestation, and further expansion is limited by a
lack of freshwater resources.
Not all the news is bad, however. The report also points to promising trends,
such as the decline in the rate of population growth, which often means smaller
families and a greater investment in children's education, nutrition and health
care. Income poverty is declining in Asia and Latin America, and hunger is
slowly declining in all regions. The standard of living in many Asian countries
is slowly catching up with developed countries.
Desai said the purpose of this new report was to provide background information
on the key issues that will dominate the World Summit on Sustainable
Development taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4
September. The Summit is expected to result in a new global implementation plan
to accelerate sustainable development, as well as the launch of a series of
innovative partnerships to promote sustainability.
Many of the world's political, business and non-government leaders, including
over 100 presidents and prime ministers, have indicated that they will
participate in the Summit, a fact, Desai said, shows "that they are
sufficiently committed to come to the Summit and make a difference."
Among the Summit's objectives, Desai, said, was to get the world to undertake
sustainable development projects on a grand scale. "We have seen many
highly innovative small scale initiatives, but we need to go to scale if we are
going to really benefit from sustainable development."
He also said the Summit must make it clear that many problems, and their
solutions, are connected. "If you want to improve children's health, you
can't do it unless you also address problems of water and sanitation," he
said. Likewise, recent news of the Asian Brown Cloud, a three kilometer thick
layer of haze over much of South and Southeast Asia, he said, was a problem
that must be addressed on many levels, including energy .
Desai said that 75 per cent of the Summit's implementation plan had been agreed
upon, including several highly substantive commitments on water and sanitation,
energy, natural disaster mitigation, and production and consumption. He was
confident that the remaining differences would be reconciled quickly.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the Summit to focus
on actions that address water and sanitation, energy, health, agricultural
productivity, and biodiversity and the protection of ecosystems. "These
are five areas," he said, "in which progress would offer all human
beings a chance of achieving prosperity that will not only last their own
lifetime, but can be enjoyed by their children and grandchildren too."
Copyright © United
Department of Economic and
Comments and suggestions
24 August 2006