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A new report from the United Nations Development Programme argues that development, equity and environmental sustainability must be addressed together in order to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the world today, such as poverty, rising food prices, deforestation and climate change.

Similar to the international advice given in the World Risk Index, it is ambitious in scope and presentation.  Many developed and developing countries alike have been struggling to work out an economic and environmentally sustainable plan for the future that mitigates climate change and other environmental crises.  What this report emphasises is that such a strategy should not be separate from equity — fairness and social justice and greater access to a better quality of life.

Some countries have provided model examples in developing their economies through environmentally sustainable initiatives including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, Chile, Cameroon and many others.  The Report argues that ‘health, education, income, gender disparities and energy production, combined with protection of the ecosystem’ are part of ‘environmental sustainability’.  As I’m sure many of you are aware, the term ‘sustainability’ is often ambiguous and frequently exploited, such as for ‘green washing’ campaigns by some private companies whose aims may be anything but ‘sustainable’.  Yet the UNDP argues for the importance of sustainability, perhaps helping to breathe new life into an environmental movement that has been incorrectly interpreted as promoting ecology at the expense of economic development. Read more

A new report from the United Nations Environmental Field Programme (UNEP) was launched recently during ‘World Water Week’ in Stockholm, Sweden – ‘An Ecosystems Approach to Water and Food Security’.  It was ‘written by over 50 contributors from 21 organizations and uses case studies from China, Guatemala, Jordan and other communities’.

It not only highlights how to conserve food and water resources and make them more widely available, but explains in detail how ‘ecosystem services’ can play a crucial role in resilience to climate change, a growing world population and increasing scarcity of food and water resources. Read more

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