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The State of the World 2002 -Report!

4 February 2002 at 12:02 pm
Staff Reporter
The Worldwatch Institute has released its State of the World 2002 report saying the world needs a global war on poverty and environmental degradation that is as aggressive and well funded as the war on terrorism.

Staff Reporter | 4 February 2002 at 12:02 pm


The State of the World 2002 -Report!
4 February 2002 at 12:02 pm

A Washington-based research organisation, the Worldwatch Institute has released its State of the World 2002 report saying the world needs a global war on poverty and environmental degradation that is as aggressive and well funded as the war on terrorism.

Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin says ten years after the Rio Earth Summit, we are still far from ending the economic and environmental marginalisation that affects billions of people.

Flavin says despite the prosperity of the 1990s, the divide between rich and poor is widening in many countries, undermining social and economic stability.

He says pressures on the world’s natural systems, from global warming to the depletion and degradation of resources such as fisheries and fresh water, have further destabilised societies.

This special State of the World report focuses on issues
central to the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in
Johannesburg, South Africa in August/September 2002. The Summit
provides world’s leaders a historic chance to strike a new deal for an
economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable world.

In the report’s Foreword, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan notes that “all of us should understand not only that we face common threats, but also that there are common opportunities to be seized if we respond to this challenge as a single human community.”

The report highlights a number of social and environmental
advances since Rio, including declining deaths from pneumonia, diarrhoea,
and tuberculosis and the phasing out of production of ozone-depleting
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in industrial countries.

But many other important trends continue to worsen. Deaths from
AIDS increased more than six-fold over the 1990s; global emissions of
the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide climbed more than nine percent; and
twenty-seven percent of the world’s coral reefs are now severely
damaged, up from 10 percent at the time of the Rio Earth Summit.

State of the World 2002 points to several significant impediments that
have slowed progress towards building a sustainable world over the last

* Environmental policies remain a low priority: The growing number of
international environmental treaties and other initiatives suffer from
weak commitments and inadequate funding. The U.N. Environment Program
has struggled to maintain its annual budget of roughly $100 million. At
the same time, military expenditures by the world’s governments are
running at more than $2 billion a day. (US dollars)

* Foreign aid spending is stagnating: Despite a more than 30 percent
expansion in global economic output in the years since Rio, aid spending
has declined substantially, falling from $69 billion in 1992 to $53
billion in 2000.

* Third world indebtedness is getting worse: Despite pledges at Rio to
reduce indebtedness, the total debt burden in developing and transition
countries has climbed 34 percent since the Earth Summit, reaching $2.5
trillion in 2000.

Increased financial and political support for international social and
environmental programs is a necessary but not sufficient condition for
success in the transition to a sustainable world. The authors argue
that the active involvement of other powerful international actors, such
as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the business community,
will also be essential.

In the years since Rio, NGOs have become adept at using the new tools
of the information age to organise effective cross-border alliances.
More than 24,000 NGOs are now active at the international level. NGOs
activated millions of people in a series of important campaigns in the
1990s, including the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, the ban on
antipersonnel landmines, and the International Criminal Court.

The Director of Research Gary Gardner says South Africa is living proof of the power of people all over the world working together to bring about change.

He says the demise of apartheid is an inspiring example of a rapid
transformation that was almost unimaginable beforehand.

The authors of State of the World 2002 lay out the technical and
political changes needed to forge a sustainable economy.

Project Director Hilary French says getting the world onto a more environmentally and socially durable course is a daunting task.

But she says history shows that cooperation can overcome even seemingly
intractable obstacles. The upcoming Johannesburg Summit on Sustainability will help to determine whether the nations of the world can jointly address pressing problems, or whether we will remain on a destructive path that leads to poverty, environmental decline, terrorism, and war.

PBA is trying to obtain an electronic copy of the State of the World report. To register your interest send us an e-mail and we will forward you a copy if it becomes available.

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