Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sustainable Development is a High Priority for the UN

Earlier this year the UN High-Level Panel Global Sustainability released its report in Addis Ababa. The 99-page report is titled “Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future Worth Choosing.” This document was created for the Rio+20 Summit, it offers cogent analysis and ways of moving sustainable development forward. The long-term vision of the Panel is to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and make growth inclusive, and production and consumption more sustainable, while combating climate change and respecting a range of other planetary boundaries. The report makes a range of recommendations to realize the Panel’s vision for a sustainable planet, a just society and a growing economy.

The High-level Panel on Global Sustainability argues that by making transparent both the cost of action and the cost of inaction, political processes can summon both the arguments and the political will necessary to act for a sustainable future.

The panel's review includes the following observations:
  • 27 per cent of the world’s population lives in absolute poverty (down from 46 per cent in 1990) 
  • Global economic growth is up 75 per cent since 1992 but inequality is still high 
  • An increase of 20 million undernourished people since 2000 
  • 5.2 million hectares net forest loss per year 
  • Ozone layer will recover to pre-1980 levels in 50 years plus 
  • Two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are in decline 
  • 85 per cent of all fish stocks are over-exploited, depleted, recovering or fully exploited 
  • 38 per cent increase in annual global carbon dioxide emissions between 1990 and 2009 
  • 20 per cent of the world’s population lack access to electricity 
  • 884 million people lack access to clean water 
  • 2.6 billion people are without access to basic sanitation 
  • 67 million children of primary school age are out of school 
  • 3.5-year increase in life expectancy between 1990 and 2010 
The panel indicates that much more needs to be done, “the progress towards sustainable development to date has been neither fast nor deep enough, and the urgency of further-reaching action is growing all the time. But…major changes are already in train in the larger, global context — changes that will have far-reaching implications for sustainable development.”

The panel’s 56 recommendations were grouped into 15 categories which included:
  • Delivering fundamentals Education and skills for sustainable development 
  • Creating employment opportunities 
  • Managing resources and enabling a twenty-first-century green revolution 
  • Building resilience Incorporating social and environmental costs: regulation and pricing to reflect externalities Creating an incentive road map that increasingly values long-term objectives 
  • Establishing a common framework for measuring progress 
  • Coherence and accountability at all levels (local, national, regional, global) 
  • Strengthening international governance for sustainable development 
Some specific recommendations include:
  • Phasing out all fossil fuel subsidies by 2020  
  • Establish a global education fund 
  • New economic sustainability indicators replacing GDP Guidance for public and private investment and consumption towards better sustainability values 
  • Ensure affordable electricity to all by 2030 
  • Establish an ever-green agricultural revolution creation of regional oceans and coastal management bodies that protect world fisheries 
  • Enable young people’s participation in and influence on decision-making processes
The executive secretary of the panel, Janos Pasztor said, “We cannot go into sustainable development without… making a radical transformation of the economy.”

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International Society of Sustainability Professionals Educational Programs
Second Nature's Advancing Green Building in Higher Education Program
Second Nature's Education for Sustainability Innovation Program
Green Education Options
Environmental Toolkit
Green School Buildings
Green School Census
Green Memes and Schools
Green Schools are Bridging the Knowledge Gap
Sustainable Education is Key to Accessing the Green Economy

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