The Challenge of Sustainability

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"It focuses on the key issues of energy, forests, biodiversity, land and water degradation and financing. And it proposes practical solutions that build on the World Summit on Sustainable Development and the experiences since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992."

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  • PRINTED ON ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY PAPER

    TH

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    OF SU

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    ABOUT THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABILITY

    IN MANY WAYS, WE HAVE ENTERED ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE PHASES IN HUMAN

    HISTORY, WHERE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND COMMUNICATIONS ADVANCE AT

    BREATHTAKING SPEED AND OFFER UNMATCHED OPPORTUNITIES FOR POLITICAL

    CONSENSUS AND RESPONSIBLE CHANGE. WE HAVE NEW TOOLS AT OUR DISPOSAL,

    AND A VASTLY INCREASED UNDERSTANDING THAT OUR STRENGTH LIES IN WORKING

    TOGETHER TO OVERCOME THE THREATS FACING OUR PLANET.THE ACTIONS WE TAKE

    AND INVESTMENTS WE MAKE IN THE DECADES AHEAD WILL DETERMINE BOTH OUR

    OWN EVOLUTION AND THAT OF FUTURE GENERATIONS.

    OUR FATES ARE INTERTWINED. WE OWE IT TO EACH OTHER,AND TO OUR CHILDREN

    AND THEIR CHILDREN, TO COMBINE FORCES AND ENSURE A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE

    ON EARTH.

    MOHAMED T. EL-ASHRY

    CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CHAIRMAN

    GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY

    THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABILITY

    G l o b a lE n v i r o n m e n tFa c i l i t yISBN 1-884122-79-5

    GEF

    G l o b a lE n v i r o n m e n tFa c i l i t y

  • THE HUMAN COMMUNITY FACES AN ARRAY OF CHOICES

    ABOUT THE QUALITY OF OUR LIVES AND THE STATE OF

    THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT. EACH OF THOSE CHOICES

    WILL HELP TO DETERMINE WHAT KIND OF WORLD OUR

    CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN WILL LIVE IN . . .

    THE LEGACY IS LARGELY OURS TO SHAPE.

    KOFI ANNAN

    U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL

    For more information contact:

    Hutton Archer

    Senior External Affairs Coordinator

    Global Environment Facility

    1818 H Street NW

    Washington, DC 20433 USA

    Tel: 202 473 0508

    Fax: 202 522 3240

    Internet: www.gefweb.org

  • THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABILITY AN ACTION AGENDA FOR THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT

  • THE CHALLENGE OF SUSTAINABILITY AN ACTION AGENDA FOR THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT

    F O R E W O R D B Y

    KOFI ANNANU.N. SECRETARY GENERAL

    WASHINGTON, D.C.

    G l o b a lE n v i r o n m e n tFa c i l i t y

  • Copyright 2002 Global Environment Facility1818 H Street, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20433, USA

    All rights reserved. Published September 2002Printed in the United States of America

    Rights and permissions

    The text of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part and in any form for educational or nonprofit uses, without specialpermission, provided acknowledgment of the source is made. The Global Environment Facility Secretariat would appreciate receiving acopy of any publication that uses this book for its source. Copies may be sent to the GEF Secretariat in care of the address above.

    No use of this publication may be made for resale or other commercial purposes without prior written consent of the GlobalEnvironment Facility Secretariat.

    All images remain the sole property of their source and may not be used for any purpose without written permission from the source.

    The designations of geographical entities in this document, and the presentation of materials, do not imply the expression of any opin-ion whatsoever on the part of the GEF concerning the legal status of any country, territory, or area, or its authorities, or concerning thedelimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

    The opinions of guest contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the GEF Secretariat.

    Cover photo: Roberto Arakaki, Image StateDesign: Patricia Hord.Graphik Design

    ISBN 1-884122-79-5

  • CONTENTS

    FOREWORD v i i iKO F I A N N A N , U . N . S E C R E TA RY G E N E R A L

    INTRODUCTION xM O H A M E D T. E L - A S H RY,

    C H I E F E X E C U T I V E O F F I C E R A N D C H A I R M A N , G E F

    1 WATER: VALUING A PRECIOUS RESOURCE 1

    2 LAND, WATER, AND FOOD PRODUCTION: 19MOVING TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY

    3 FORESTS AND BIODIVERSITY: 37SAVING VALUABLE ASSETS

    4 ENERGY: POWERING 57SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    5 FINANCING THE ENVIRONMENT AND 75SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    CONCLUSION 88M O H A M E D T. E L - A S H RY

    INDEX 94

    ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 101

    PHOTO CREDITS 102

    v

  • vi

    TABLES

    Table 3.1 Forest Area by Region, 2000 39Table 3.2 Annual Change in Forest Area, 19002000 40Table 3.3 GEF Projects in Globally Significant Biological Areas (FY 2001) 48 Table 5.1 Trends in Resource Flows to Developing Countries, 19912001 83

    FIGURES

    Figure 1.1 The Glass Is Half FullWater Use, 19002000 3Figure 1.2 Agriculture Dominates Freshwater Use 3Figure 1.3 Projected Water Scarcity, 19952025 3

    Figure 2.1 World Demand for Cereals, 1997 and 2020 20Figure 2.2 Increased Cereal Demand, 19972000 20Figure 2.3 World Demand for Meat, 1997 and 2020 20

    Figure 3.1 Countries with the Largest Shares of Forests, 2000 39Figure 3.2 Forests in Protected Areas, 2000 40

    Figure 4.1 World Energy Consumption by Fuel Type, 1998 59Figure 4.2 Growth in Primary Energy Consumption, 18602060 59Figure 4.3 Per Capita Energy Use, 19902050 60Figure 4.4 Projected Growth in Renewable Energy Use, 18602060 60

    Figure 5.1 Single Greatest Threat to Future Generations 76Figure 5.2 Share of Respondents Who Identified Environmental Pollution

    as Single Greatest Threat to Future Generations, 19972001 76

  • vii

    BOXES

    Box 1.1 Millennium Declaration on Water Resources 2Water Targets for 2015 15

    Box 2.1 Conflicts and Natural Disasters 22 Box 2.2 A New Era for Rice 30

    Land, Water, and Food Production Targets for 2015 34

    Box 3.1 Forests as Habitats 38Box 3.2 Upsetting Natures Balance 42Box 3.3 The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor 45

    Forest and Biodiversity Targets for 2015 52

    Box 4.1 The Climate Challenge 62Box 4.2 Renewable Energy: Key to Poverty Reduction 71

    Energy Targets for 2015 70

    Box 5.1 Costa Ricas Ecomarkets Program 77Box 5.2 Sustainable Development Is Good Business 79Box 5.3 Trends in ODA and Foreign Direct Investment 80

    Millennium Development Goals 91

  • FOREWORD

    he human community faces an array of choices about the quality of our livesand the state of the global environment. Each of those choices will help todetermine what kind of world our children and grandchildren will live in. One

    possibility is that at long last we will pave a path toward environmental steward-ship and sustainable development. But it is also quite possible that we will travela less enlightened course, running down the earths natural capital and severelylimiting the choices our descendants will face.

    Over the next half-century, we could be:

    A world in which economic and social needs are balanced with the capacityof the earths resources and ecosystemsor a world impoverished by envi-ronmental degradation, where poverty and hunger still afflict a billion ormore people.

    A world that properly values water and manages it sustainablyor one thatfaces widespread water scarcity.

    A world making the transition to renewable energy sourcesor one stilldependent on fossil fuels, and where climate change is destabilizingmany nations.

    A world in which preventable diseases have been largely eliminatedor onein which millions of children continue to die annually because they donthave access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation.

    T

    viii

  • ix

    A world of responsible consumption and pro-duction patternsor one still inundated bywaste and poisoned by hazardous materials.

    A world where rich-country markets are fullyopen to labor-intensive products from poorcountries, and where trade is making significantinroads against povertyor a world that remainsdeeply divided between rich and poor.

    The legacy is largely ours to shape, and the GlobalEnvironment Facility (GEF) will continue to play animportant role in this quest. A strategic alliance ofthe U.N. Development Programme, the U.N. Environ-ment Programme, and the World Bank, the GEF is aunique and innovative source of funding mandatedto make the connection between local and globalenvironmental challenges, and between nationaland international efforts, in order to conserve bio-diversity, reduce the risks of climate change, protectthe ozone layer, clean up international waters, stopland degradation, and eliminate persistent organicpollutants. Even though its portfolio is still young,and overall funding has been relatively modest, theGEF has made a differencefor example in reduc-ing ozone-depleting substances in Eastern Europeand Central Asia, in combating deforestation and

    desertification in Sub-Saharan Africa, and in bring-ing renewable energy to people in developing countries, many of whom live far from existingpower grids.

    The Challenge of Sustainability: An Action Agendafor the Global Environment has two goals: first, toassess whether the battle to overcome the worldsenvironmental problems is gaining strength, andsecond, to offer ideas and strategies for the next 10years. It focuses on the key issues of energy, forests,biodiversity, land and water degradation, andfinancing. And it proposes practical solutions thatbuild on the World Summit on SustainableDevelopment and the experiences since the EarthSummit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Readers may notagree with every strategy put forth in this report.But we can and must agree on the goals: an end toglobal poverty and hunger, renewed respect for theenvironment, and the urgent need for all actors tofulfill their responsibilities to give this generationand succeeding generations a chance to live withdignity and hope for the future.

    Kofi AnnanU.N. Secretary General

  • INTRODUCTION

    e have, in the last decade, seen environmental problems mountfrom extreme weather patterns and melting glaciers that point to a

    changing climate, to air and water pollution that threatens humanhealth, to deforestation and land degradation that are undermining

    the earths capacity to sustain humanity.

    But we have also seen society marshal its resources in an attempt to meet thesechallenges. Our initial response was slow; it now needs to gather speed as theproblemsand the imperative that we meet themare becoming more clearto us. We now have new tools, and a vastly increased understanding that ourstrength lies in working together to overcome the threats facing our planet. Wecan build on these strengths and move ahead with confidence that sustainabledevelopment goals are indeed achievable.

    This new drive for global sustainability should be rooted in the growing recog-nition of the strong links between the environment and development. A cleanenvironment is essential for both development and poverty eradication. Unsafewater kills 3 million people each year, many of them children. Sickness andpoor health mean lost production for the people and countries that can leastafford it. Air pollution also damages the crops, forests, rivers, and lakes thatcountries need for their economic development.

    Environmental and economic inequities are closely interrelated. Poverty pushesthe poor into degraded lands and polluted slums, where economic opportuni-ties are minimal. Development that subsidizes sewers, piped water, and electric-ity for the middle classes and leaves the poor to fend for themselves is more

    W

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  • than unfair; the burdens this places on the poor arereflected in higher health costs, lowered productivity,and the desperate hopelessness that can lead topolitical instability. A deeper appreciation of this eco-nomic and environmental interdependence is essen-tial to tackling the global environmental problemsthat cloud our future and endanger our health, oursecurity, our natural endowment, and the beautyand splendor of life on earth.

    NEW STRENGTHS,REAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS

    A decade after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, we arestill struggling to meet and overcome the worldsenvironmental problems, but we are also gaining

    strength. And our new strengths have been under-pinned by real accomplishments. The internationalcommunity has built new structures of cooperationto meet many of the threats facing our environ-ment. Some governments have extended the timehorizons of their development plans to ensure thatsustainability underpins future growth. A number ofcorporations have made eco-efficiency the founda-tion for their operations. Hard work has translatedinto laws and treaties, and more hard work hasgiven those laws and treaties the substance andteeth needed to make a difference.

    The strength of cooperation first found its voice inthe treaties designed to slow and reverse the grow-ing hole in the stratospheric ozone layer. The 28national signatures on the March 1985 ViennaConvention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

  • T H E C H A L L E N G E O F S U S TA I N A B I L I T Yxii

    marked an important milestone: the first time thatnations agreed to tackle a global environmentalproblem before its effects were completely clear.Two years later, general obligations in the conven-tion were further elaborated through the 1987Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete theOzone Layer. By May 2000, 175 countries hadsigned on to the Protocol. Developed countrieslargely eliminated chlorofluorocarbons andhalonsthe two major ozone-threatening gasesby the end of 1995. And many developing countriesare now ahead of the timetable that gives themuntil 2010 to phase out these two substances.

    The Montreal Protocol is a model for internationalenvironmental agreements. It is flexible and adapt-able, and recognizes the different needs of devel-oped and developing nations. The protocol is thefirst treaty that incorporates the provision offinancing for implementation. The agreement isbased on partnership, not confrontation, and hasproven an effective way to support economicgrowth in transitional economies and developingnations.

    The lessons we have learned from protectingthe ozone layer are being tapped in the effort toreduce the use of energy sources that fuel globalwarming. Wind, solar, and even tidal power offerboth clear commercial opportunities and real envi-ronmental benefits. Governments, multilateral assis-tance agencies, and private investors are buildingclean new energy systems around the world. Windpower generation capacity has increased from nearzero to over 1,700 megawatts. Virtually unknownin 1992, solar home systems using photovoltaictechnology now provide power to more than 1 million rural households. And at least 30 majorfirms have committed to investing $10 to $15billion in renewable energy over the next five years.Between $500 million and $1.5 billion of renewableenergy projects in developing countries are beingfinanced each year, a market with an annualgrowth of 5 to 10 percent.

    Nations are also learning that there is a comparativeadvantage to working together on the problemsthey share. The 17 Black Sea and Danube Riverbasin countries, for example, have adopted anaction plan that commits them to the policy, legal,and institutional reforms needed for their cleanupeffort; they have pledged to install clean technologyand reduce organic and toxic discharges by 30 per-cent in a decade. The 10 Nile River basin countrieshave established priorities and joint commitmentsfor action to sustainably manage this critical ecosys-tem. And six Central American countries have joinedMexico in linking their national parks, biological andforest reserves, wildlife refuges, and biospherereserves in the Mesoamerican Biological Corridorthe first biological preservation project to crossnational borders and encompass an entire region.

    NEW VOICES, NEW TOOLS,...

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