UN panel urges world governments to choose ‘a worthy future’

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Boosting energy efficiency and renewables and providing food for a future world of eight billion will dominate next year's UN Rio+20 conference, the UN body insisted. Photo - Physorg.com

Amid rising inequality, environmental decline and economic instability the world must rethink its abilities and manifest its potential to do business, a UN report concluded.

The world body emphasised that governments around the world must focus on health and education while ending subsidies on fossil fuels. The pros and cons of the standard economic indicator of GDP surely needs to be addressed in detail, the statement added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moonestablished a High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability in 2010 which aims to get input into the discussion panel of the Rio+20 summit in June.

“With the possibility of the world slipping further into recession, policymakers are hungry for ideas that can help them to navigate these difficult times. Our report makes clear that sustainable development is more important than ever given the multiple crises now enveloping the world,” Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, said in his statement. Finnish President Tarja Halonen emphasised the ideology of equality in terms of gender and increasing gap between income variations.”Eradication of poverty and improving equity must remain priorities for the world community,” she said.

EXPANDING POSSIBILITIES

The discussion panel with 22 members include ministers of governments from past and present namely Barbadian Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, India’s Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, former Australian Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, and former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtlandwho led the Brundtland Commission in 1987 and released a report that coined the definition of sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The latest findings say: We undertook this report during a period of global volatility and uncertainty. Economies are teetering. Inequality is growing. And global temperatures continue to rise. We are testing the capacity of the planet to sustain us. To fight back the situation we need to change dramatically, beginning with how we think about our relationship to each other, to future generations, and to the ecosystems that support us”.

SETTING THE PATH

The report titled Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future worth Choosing includes 56 recommendations which, if implemented in full, would have profound implications for societies, governments, and businesses.

It also suggested the governments to come up with true environmental costs of products that people pay to purchase them, setting the path of an economic system that safeguards natural resources and environmental assets.

The important phase to work on would be the structuring of the purchase flows with economical prices in mind and also to educate people with proper information on purchase decisions. The governments, with the support of the UN, would adopt the indicators of economic performance above the simple GDP and also measure the economic sustainability of the countries.

First and foremost step to be taken would be the end of subsidies that are damaging environmental integrity by 2020. The UN estimated that governments spend more than $400bn each year subsidising fossil fuels, whereas the OECD countries alone spend approximately the same on agricultural subsidies giving a scope of access to energy, clean water, sanitation and food that meets the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The UN panel said: These and other targets should be incorporated into a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be drawn up in the next few years

Some of its recommendations parallel the initial draft agreement drawn up for the Rio+20 summits. Farooq Ullah, head of policy and advocacy at Stakeholder Forum, a civil society group involved with preparations for the summit said: “We greatly welcome the report of the panel and its messages. It outlines a vision of the future which is people-centric and which exists within the safe operating space necessary for planetary health and our existence.”

“It outlines a vision of the future which is people-centric and which exists within the safe operating space necessary for planetary health and our existence.”

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