f o r e w o r d
A Future Worth Choosing….
The UN’s Global Sustainability Panel was charged with formulating a “new vision for sustainable growth and prosperity, along with mechanisms for achieving it.” It’s report introduces 56 recommendations ( http://www.un.org/gsp ) with the following thoughts:
“Today our planet and world society are experiencing the best of times: unprecedentedprosperity, and the worst of times: unprecedented environmental stress. Social inequalitybetween the world’s rich and poor is growing, and more than a billion people still live in poverty.So our long-term vision must be to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growthinclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate changeand respecting a range of other planetary boundaries.” The question is: How? “As the global population grows from 7 billion to almost 9 billion by 2040, and the number ofmiddle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, by 2030, the world willneed at least 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water —all at a time when environmental boundaries are throwing up new limits to supply. Our currentglobal development model is unsustainable: we can no longer assume that our collectiveactions will not trigger tipping points and cause irreversible damage to both ecosystemsand human communities. But the dilemma of sustainable human development is that suchthresholds should not be used to impose arbitrary growth ceilings on developing countrieswhich seek to lift their people out of poverty. Indeed, if we fail to resolve that dilemma, werun the risk of condemning up to 3 billion members of our human family to a life of endemicpoverty”. “A quarter of a century ago, the Brundtland Report argued that sustainable human developmentcould be achieved by an integrated policy framework embracing three pillars: economic growth,social equality and environmental sustainability. It was right then and its right today. Theproblem is that, 25 years later, sustainable human development remains a concept not a reality.Why? Two answers:1. There are few incentives to put it into practice when the policy dividend of sustainablehuman development is long-term, but politics and institutions disproportionately reward theshort term.2. We have failed to incorporate the concept of sustainable development into mainstreamnational and international economic policy.“It is this second area that the Panel addresses with real passion: economists, social activistsand environmental scientists simply talk past each other. That is why the Panel argues that theinternational community needs “a new political economy” for sustainable human development– one that would mean that international agencies, national Governments and privatecorporations would report annually on their sustainable development performance againstagreed sustainability measures”. “The Panel recognizes that this is a core challenge for politics itself. The political economyof sustainable development must bring sustainablehuman development from the margins to themainstream of the global economic debate and makethe cost of action and the cost of inaction transparentto all. Only then will the political process be able tosummon both the arguments and the political willnecessary to act for a sustainable future”.UN’s Global Sustainability Panel