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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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