The latest UN report on the environment considers that current legislation is insufficient and suggests urgent measures to achieve the goals by 2050.
The sixth report by the United Nations on the Global Environment Outlook concludes that current legislation makes it impossible to meet the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.
The study indicates that the only way to revert the situation is by promoting and implementing urgent measures “on an unprecedented scale” to achieve this milestone by 2050. “This is necessary to protect human and environmental health and to maintain the current and future integrity of the world’s ecosystems”, says the report.
Some of the essential measures recommended by the UN imply reducing the degradation of soil, the loss of biodiversity and air, soil and water pollution; improving the management of water and resources; mitigating climate change; using resources efficiently; tackling decarbonisation; and preventing and managing risks and disasters.
“All these measures call for more ambitious and effective policies in the fields of sustainable consumption and production”, the study outlines.
The use of innovative technologies is one of the ways to progress towards achieving the SDGs. According to the outlook, they could even bring a competitive advantage to the countries promoting these technologies.
2050: 10 billion people in the world
Since the first outlook was published, in 1997, United Nations states that the general situation of the environment has deteriorated around the world. This is mainly due to unsustainable production and consumption models in the majority of countries and to climate change.
The “grow first, clean up later” strategy has allowed for economic development in many regions, but the UN warn that, in the long term, following this tactic will be more costly. “It will not be able, in a sustainable way, to cater for 10 billion healthy, satisfied and productive people in 2050, unless deep and urgent changes are made to the way we consume and produce”.
It is precisely due to economic and demographic growth that CO2 emissions are growing, from burning fossil fuels. Although many countries have started to implement legislation to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, the efforts are overshadowed by increases seen in other countries that are growing rapidly, such as China and India.
Our oceans are dying
Atmospheric pollution and global warming are harming our coastlines and oceans, leading to a rise in sea levels, changes in temperature and the death of coral reefs.
The UN considers there is a serious risk that marine resources may no longer be able to provide vital services such as those with health benefits, the creation of jobs and aesthetic, cultural or religious values. Once again, the outlook reiterates: “current efforts are insufficient to achieve the SDGs, especially Goal 14”.
The outlook suggests interventions based on new technologies, with a focus on precaution and a management based on resilience to improve the conservation of marine ecosystems.
Ultimately, the outlook concludes that the world will not fulfil the environmental dimension in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development nor the environmental milestones set out in international conventions for 2050. “It is necessary to adopt urgent measures now to revert these trends and restore our planet’s health”.