Environmental News and Issues / SILnews 30

Environmental News and Issues / SILnews 30

Our Present Course is Unsustainable Postponing Action is no Longer an Option

In September 1999, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched Global Environment Outlook 2000 (GEO-2000) an authoritative assessment of the environmental crisis facing humanity in the new millennium.

Based on contributions from UN agencies, 850 individuals and 30 environmental institutes, GEO-2000 outlines progress in tackling existing problems and points to serious new threats. It concludes its report by setting out recommendations for immediate, integrated action.

GEO-2000 analyses both global and regional issues. Its key finding is that, “The continued poverty of the majority of the planet’s inhabitants and excessive consumption by the minority are the two major causes of environmental degradation. The present course is unsustainable and postponing action is no longer an option”.

According to GEO-2000, full scale emergencies now exist in a number of fields. The world water cycle seems unlikely to be able to cope with demands in the coming decades and global warming now seems inevitable. In a survey conducted for GEO-2000 by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, 200 scientists in 50 countries identified water shortage and global warming as the two most worrying problems for the new millennium.

At the core of GEO-2000’s recommendations is a reinforcement of Agenda 21’s call for environmental integration. “The environment remains largely outside the mainstream of everyday human consciousness and is still considered an add-on to the fabric of life”, says GEO-2000.

National Governments, international organizations, private sector, community groups, NGOs and ordinary citizens all have a role to play in putting the environment at the forefront of the political agenda, says GEO-2000. “Environmental education, like mathematics, (should be) part of the standard educational curriculum”, says GEO-2000, adding that we must “encourage the media to devote as much attention to environmental issues as they do to crime, politics, sport and finance”. GEO-2000 was edited by Robin Clarke and published by Earthscan Publications on behalf of UNEP. It costs ^20.

For more information, please contact:

Marion Cheatle
State of the Environment Assessment Unit
Division of Environmental Information, Assessment and Early Warning (DEIA&EW)
P.O. Box 30552
Nairobi, Kenya
E-mail: geo@unep.org
Phone: (254-2) 623520
Fax: (254-2) 623944