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30 August 2019

The United Nations Environment Programme’s sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6) is the most comprehensive report on the global environment since 2012. It shows that the overall environmental situation globally is deteriorating and the window for action is closing.

Unsustainable production and consumption patterns and trends and inequality, when combined with increases in the use of resources that are driven by population growth, put at risk the healthy planet needed to attain sustainable development. Those trends are leading to a deterioration in planetary health at unprecedented rates, with increasingly serious consequences, in particular for poorer people and regions. Furthermore, the world is not on track to achieve the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals or other internationally agreed environmental goals by 2030; nor is it on track to deliver long-term sustainability by 2050. The authors of the report elaborate on existing global environmental issues, such as air pollution, biodiversity loss, overexploitation of natural resources, illegal wildlife trade, marine plastic litter, land degradation, antibiotic-resistant infections, etc.

According to the authors, the social and economic costs of inaction often exceed the costs of action and are inequitably distributed, often being borne by the poorest and most vulnerable in society, including indigenous and local communities, particularly in developing countries. Current environmental policy alone is not sufficient to address those challenges. Urgent cross-sectoral policy action, through a whole-of-society approach, is needed to address the challenges of sustainable development. The key features of effective environmental policies for sustainable development include integrated objectives, science-based targets, economic instruments, regulations and robust international cooperation.

Food, energy and transport systems, urban planning and chemical production are primary examples of systems of production and consumption that need innovative, effective and integrated policies. Innovation in and deployment of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resource efficiency can strengthen the economic performance of enterprises, municipalities, countries and other stakeholders. Sustainable development is more likely to be achieved through new modes of governance and adaptive management that give greater priority to the environmental dimension of the Sustainable Development Goals, while promoting gender equality and education for sustainable production and consumption.

The authors note that these new sustainability governance models should also ensure adequate investment in knowledge systems such as data, indicators, assessments, policy evaluation and sharing platforms, and act on internationally agreed early signals from science and society to avoid unnecessary environmental impact and costs. Data from satellites, combined with monitoring on the ground, can enable quicker actions across the world, in response to extreme weather events, for example. Harnessing the ongoing data and knowledge revolution and ensuring the authenticity and validity of those data to support sustainable development, combined with international cooperation, could transform capacities to address challenges and accelerate progress towards sustainable development. According to the authors, the most important of all is the need to take bold, urgent, sustained, inclusive and transformative action that integrates environmental, economic and social activity to set society on the pathway to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, multilateral environmental agreements, internationally agreed environmental goals and other science-based targets.

Anlytics on the topic

All analytics
23 March 2018
ARCTIC 18-24-35

Russian Arctics is a special site for state management. Its complexity consists not only in climatic, ecological or logistical features, which undoubtedly have an impact on development, but also a very high price of human errors. When developing a strategy for the region, it is necessary to take into account a variety of natural, not just economic, factors.

Analytical digest
20 January 2020
Green economy and international trade: On the path to sustainable development

The Report was prepared for the Russia House at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2020. Based on the analysis of foreign sources, the key issues on the agenda of the Meeting are revealed: approaches to overcoming environmental problems and ways of sustainable business transformation.

5 April 2019
Problems and Prospects of the Northern Sea Route as an Element of the Single Arctic Transport System

This publication was prepared by the Analytical Department of the Executive Office of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation for the online conference Problems and Prospects of the Northern Sea Route as an Element of the Single Arctic Transport System which took place from September 1 to October 31, 2018.

4 September 2022
Aid for Trade Global Review: Empowering connected, sustainable trade

The publication presents the results of the 2022 joint OECD—WTO Aid for Trade monitoring and evaluation exercise. The authors analyze the latest trends in trade and the factors that have a direct effect on trade flows and global economy.