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Ending poverty, protecting nature go hand in hand: UN report

June 1, 2013
Courtesy of the World Wildlife Fund 
and World Science staff

Wip­ing out pov­er­ty will re­quire pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, a Un­ited Na­t­ions pan­el has con­clud­ed, de­part­ing from a tra­di­tion of treat­ing the two is­sues as sep­a­rate.

“With­out en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity we can­not end pov­er­ty,” said the UN’s High Lev­el Pan­el on the post-2015 De­vel­op­ment Agen­da.

The re­port of the 26-member pan­el, which in­clud­ed sev­er­al world lead­ers, could in­flu­ence over $25 tril­lion of de­vel­op­ment spend­ing and marks a clear break from the prac­tice of treat­ing de­vel­op­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity as sep­a­rate top­ics, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment is­sued May 30 by the Switzerland-based World Wild­life Fund.

“There is fi­nally rec­og­ni­tion that pov­er­ty can­not be erad­i­cat­ed and the well-be­ing of peo­ple across the globe can­not be se­cured with­out ad­dress­ing the grave pres­sures on the en­vi­ron­ment and the nat­u­ral sys­tems that sup­port hu­man life on this plan­et,” said Jim Leape, di­rec­tor gen­er­al of WWF In­terna­t­ional.

The re­port calls for tough meas­ures to re­duce the im­pacts of con­sump­tion, pro­duc­tion, trade, waste and pol­lu­tion. “The mo­ment is right to merge the pov­er­ty and en­vi­ron­men­tal tracks guid­ing in­terna­t­ional de­vel­op­ment,” said the re­port. The pan­el rec­om­mended man­da­to­ry so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­porting by all com­pa­nies with a mar­ket cap­i­taliza­t­ion above $100 mil­lion.

Pro­posed goals to se­cure food, wa­ter and en­er­gy for a grow­ing world popula­t­ion should in­clude key tar­gets to safe­guard sus­tain­a­ble ag­ri­cul­ture, fish­er­ies, freshwa­ter sys­tems and en­er­gy sup­plies, the re­port added.

“The glob­al fi­nan­cial and eco­nom­ic cri­ses have shown that pov­er­ty and grow­ing in­equal­ity are prob­lems for all coun­tries. Pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion choices in one place have en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts across the globe,” Leape said. “We now look to all coun­tries to build on the High Lev­el Pan­el’s re­port and agree an am­bi­tious set of goals and tar­gets that will spur ur­gent ac­tion.”

Mem­bers of the pan­el in­cluded U.K. Prime Min­is­ter Da­vid Cam­er­on, In­done­si­a’s Pres­ident Susilo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono, Liberian Pres­ident El­len John­son Sir­leaf and Un­ilever CEO Paul Pol­man.


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Wiping out poverty will require protecting the environment, a United Nations panel has concluded, departing from a tradition of treating the two issues as separate. “Without environmental sustainability we cannot end poverty,” said the UN’s High Level Panel on the post-2015 Development Agenda. The report of the 26-member panel, which included several world leaders, could influence over $25 trillion of development spending and marks a clear break from the practice of treating development and sustainability as separate topics, according to a statement issued May 30 by the Switzerland-based World Wildlife Fund. “There is finally recognition that poverty cannot be eradicated and the well-being of people across the globe cannot be secured without addressing the grave pressures on the environment and the natural systems that support human life on this planet,” said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. The report calls for hard-hitting measures to be taken in both developed and developing countries to reduce the impacts of consumption, production, trade, waste and pollution. “The moment is right to merge the poverty and environmental tracks guiding international development,” said the report. The Panel underlined the inadequacies of GDP measures of progress and recommended mandatory social and environmental reporting by all companies with a market capitalisation above USD 100 million. Proposed goals to secure food, water and energy for a growing world population should include key targets to safeguard sustainable agriculture, fisheries, freshwater systems and energy supplies, the report said. The High Level Panel also affirmed that the new development agenda is a global one. “The world has changed since the MDGs were agreed,” said Jim Leape. “The global financial and economic crises have shown that poverty and growing inequality are problems for all countries. Production and consumption choices in one place have environmental impacts across the globe.” “We now look to all countries to build on the High Level Panel’s report and agree an ambitious set of goals and targets that will spur urgent action,” said Leape. Members of the panel include U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Unilever CEO Paul Polman.