Struggling to Find a UNified Vision for Sustainable Development

July 15, 2011 at 12:16 am Leave a comment

Two articles in the May 30, 2011 issue of C&E News describe political roadblocks in the path of sustainable development: when it comes to shared resources, nations readily fall into the trap of thinking they have conflicting interests.

One article, “Whither Sustainable Development” (p. 39) describes how U.N.-sponsored negotiations fell apart in mid-May over the definition of “green economy”. That issue, plus failing to agree on the responsibility of industrialized (“rich”) countries to provide financial and technical assistance to developing (“poor”) nations, stopped talks cold. Negotiators walked away from their tables and a number of agreements were left in limbo. Cross your fingers that the delegates will find a way to resolve their differences before next year’s U.N.-sponsored conference on sustainable development.

A second article, “Resources: Boosting Efficiency While Curbing Environmental Harm” (p. 40),  describes a new report on “Decoupling” from the U.N. International Resource Panel (IRP). Bottom-line: the entire world needs to “decouple”, that is, learn how to create products and services while consuming a lot less material. Otherwise we’re screwed. Industrialized countries like the U.S. should lead the way in this effort, of course, because our citizens consume the largest quantities of natural resources per capita. However, as the populations of less affluent countries grow, it will be just as daunting to figure out how to provide for the material needs of their citizens. You can read the full report, a fact sheet, an English-language summary, and a PowerPoint presentation for free.

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Entry filed under: In the News.

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