The UN Environment released its sixth global environment outlook during the UN Climate Summit in Nairobi
Initially launched in 1997, the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) is an integrated environmental assessment that incorporates environmental, social, economic, policy, geographic and temporal perspectives designed to provide answers to five key issues, namely; the state of the planet, key drivers of change, the impact the planet’s health has on livelihoods, where in the world problems are most acute and for whom, policy measures and responses to environmental challenges and what are some of the available pathways to accelerate progress to a more sustainable planet.
The theme of the sixth GEO is ‘Healthy planet, healthy people’ and the report intends to direct attention to the link between the environment and human progress, warning that the state of the planet’s health is so dire that it represents a public health issue. For example, approximately nine million lives are currenrly lost on an annual basis as a result of exposure to indoor/outdoor air and water pollution – all of which costs society approximately USD 5 trillion. Building on the findings of previous editions, the GEO was produced with input from 250 scientists and experts from over 70 countries and uses a mix of case studies and data analysis to forge a path towards ensuring the air, biodiversity, oceans, land and freshwater are protected and restored to health.
“The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “This report is an outlook for humanity. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now”.
The report outlines six key messages:
- A healthy planet supports healthy people
- An unhealthy planet leads to unhealthy people
- The drivers and pressures leading to an unhealthy planet need to be addressed
- Current science justifies policy action now, but more detailed knowledge can enable more refined and preemptive policy
- Environmental policy is necessary but inadequate in itself to address systemic ecological problems, solutions which require a holistic approach
- Healthy people, a healthy planet and a healthy economy can be mutually supportive
The report can be downloaded in its entirety here