Three interlinked environmental crises linked to our unsustainable patterns of consumption and production
Ahead of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme Inger Andersen launched UNEP’s latest report during an online press briefing on February 18, 2021.
This report, ‘Making Peace With Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies’, flags the interlinkages between our environmental and development challenges and describes the roles of all parts of society in the transformations needed for a sustainable future.
During the joint press conference, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres explained how our economic systems impact and directly reinforce the three planetary crises: “for too long, we have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature. The result is three interlinked environmental crises.” said Mr. Guterres. “Climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution that threaten our viability as a species. They are caused by unsustainable production and consumption.”
This report brings together the key insights of all the most important scientific findings from the environmental assessments of recent years, using these insights to chart a path towards a sustainable future, communicate on the urgent issues and opportunities to solve them. The analysis is anchored in current economic, social and ecological reality and framed by economics and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Transitioning to more sustainable patterns: what can be done?
Current unsustainable economic systems, through unsustainable production and consumption, fail to account for the essential benefits we get from nature and to provide incentives to manage ecosystems and natural capital wisely and maintain their value. The economic system thus can and should be transformed to lead and power the shift to sustainability.
Raising awareness on how decades of growing efforts have not stemmed the environmental decline resulting from the current development model because vested and short-term interests often prevail, this report underlines how transformation towards sustainability needs to involve significant and mutually reinforcing changes in behaviour, culture, material flows and systems of management and knowledge transmission.
Achieving sustainability will entail interventions across scales and sectors and changes to incentive structures, management systems, decision-making processes, rules and regulations. The economic, financial and productive systems can and should be transformed to lead and power the shift to sustainability.
“The environmental emergencies that have been outlined in the report all flow directly from humanity’s overconsumption of resources, overproduction of waste and prioritization of short-term gain – with the consequences of long-term pain. But all is not lost. The report also lays out how ambitious and coordinated actions by governments, businesses and people can restore the planet to health.” declared Inger Andersen.