Development under threat from environmental damage and social inequity | WWF

Development under threat from environmental damage and social inequity

Posted on
02 November 2011
Gland, Switzerland: WWF has welcomed a major new UN report warning that the trend to rising living standards is coming under threat from accumulating environmental damage and rising social inequity.

According to the UN Development Program 2011 Human Development Report "Sustainability and Equity: A better future for all", sustainability is “not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue” in a world where global population has just passed seven billion.

"This report is a salutary reminder that the economic issues currently in the headlines and topping the international agenda are the symptom, not the problem," said WWF International Conservation Director Lasse Gustavsson.

“WWF’s footprint measures indicate we are currently consuming the resources of one and a half planets, and this is the factor underlying the competition for and increasing costs of resources and our current economic instability. Behind the economic debts is a growing ecological debt.”

The 2011 Human Development Report notes that the main impacts of faltering development will fall on the world’s poorest people and countries, those most dependent on a healthy environment and also those already facing the most catastrophic climate change impacts.

“Our remarkable progress in human development cannot continue without bold steps to reduce both environmental risks and inequality,” the report says.

“WWF agrees with the report’s assessment that there are alternatives to inequality and unsustainability,” Gustavsson said. “Green and renewable development provides the pathway to greater access to essential services such as food, energy, water and sanitation.

“But the report notes that the investment to ensure access to modern energy is less than an eighth of the annual subsidies for fossil fuels and that spending on low carbon energy sources is less than two percent of the lowest estimates of what is needed.”

WWF also endorsed the report’s clear call for measurements of progress that transcend a narrow focus on income.

“The health of the environment is a key development issue, so we need national and international accounting that places environmental health at centre stage,” Gustavsson said.

For further information:

The report is available through

Elaine Geyer-Allely, Manager People and Conservation, WWF International, +41 223649028

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WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

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