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United Nations Environment Programme releases a gloomy GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK

October 25, 2007 6:00 PM

"Planet's Tougher Problems Persist" - the UN's fourth Global Environment Outlook reports.

The GEO-4 assessment says that major threats to the planet such as climate change, the rate of extinction of species, and the challenge of feeding a growing population are among the many that remain unresolved, and all of them put humanity at risk.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UNEP said:

"It is an illuminating read outlining how over the past 20 years-since the publication of the landmark Brundtland Commission report-the financial wealth of the planet has soared by around a third.

But at the same time it is sobering: much of the 'natural' capital upon which so much of human well being and economic activity depends-water, land, the air and atmosphere, biodiversity and marine resources-continue their seemingly inexorable decline.

Most tellingly perhaps is the environmental footprint of the world's population. GEO-4 estimates this demand for resources is now close to 22 hectares per person whereas the biological carrying capacity of the planet is somewhere between 15 and 16 hectares per person.

20 years after Brundtland, we may wonder what we have been doing to try and balance development with environmental sustainability. The fact is quite a lot.

The multilateral environmental infrastructure has been rolled out-we have global treaties covering the ozone layer and biodiversity to climate and desertification.

GEO-4 is also salt and peppered with shining examples of creative and intelligent management from no- take zones in Fiji's fishing industry to the restoration of river systems in Cameroon.

But the fact remains that faced with the magnitude and scale of the challenge, the response has, to put it mildly, often been confined to national action in limited or specific areas-air pollution in Europe for example.

Without an accelerated effort to reform the way we collectively do business on planet Earth, we will shortly be in trouble if indeed we are not already. ..."

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