Sustainable development “no pipedream”

By RTCC Staff

bob watson chief scientist defra

Defra chief scientist Bob Watson says the current system "is broken". (Source: Defra)

A group of senior academics will today call for major shifts in government policy to avoid poverty, climate and biodiversity crises.

The paper will be presented to the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) governing council meeting in Nairobi, by 20 former winners of the Blue Planet Prize, sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize for the environment.

Sustainable development is not a pipe dream,” said Dr Camilla Toulmin, director of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

“It is the destination the world’s accumulated knowledge points us towards, the fair future that will enable us to live with security, peace and opportunities for all. To get there we must transform the ways we manage, share and interact with the environment, and acknowledge that humanity is part of nature not apart from it.”

The Nairobi meeting marks the 40th anniversary of UNEP and will also serve as a forum for the Rio+20 summit in June this year.

“The current system is broken,” said Prof. Sir Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), who will present the paper.

“It is driving humanity to a future that is 3-5°C warmer than our species has ever known, and is eliminating the ecology that we depend on for our health, wealth and senses of self.”

The EU environment commissioner Janez Potočnik said the UNEP ministerial meeting would serve as a test-bed for the block’s Rio+20 proposals.

A leaked document detailing the proposed framework for Sustainable Development Goals for the Rio summit was criticised earlier this year.

Indian officials claimed that references the draft provided a “backdoor to emissions cuts”. The unnamed diplomat said the goals sidestepped the UN climate agency’s promise of “common but differentiated responsibility” for nations in different stages of development.

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