Development progress in the world’s poorest countries could be halted by the mid-21st century unless bold steps are taken to mitigate the climate change impact, prevent further environmental destruction and reduce inequalities among nations.
This is according to projections in the 2011 Human Development Report (HDR) launched in Dar es Salaam on Thursday.
The report with the theme, 'Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All,' states that environmental sustainability can be achieved by addressing healthcare, education, income and gender disparities together with the need for global action on energy production and ecosystem protection.
It says sustainability must be approached as a matter of basic social justice for current and further generations alike as the world community prepares for the landmark UN conference on sustainable development in June next year in Rio de Janeiro. “Environmental sustainability is the greatest development challenges of the 21st century…looking through the joint lens of sustainability and equitable development, the HDR shows how environmental degradation intensifies inequality through adverse impacts on already disadvantaged people and how inequalities in human development amplify environmental degradation,” stressed UN resident coordinator Alberic Kacou in his remarks during the launch of the report.
He said the world had seen enormous progress in human development over the years and some countries had progressed quickly while others had advanced slowly but steadily.
He added: “Despite the human development progress in recent years, income distribution has worsened, grave gender imbalances still persist and accelerating environmental destruction puts a double burden of deprivation on the poorest households and communities.”
Half of all malnutrition worldwide is attributed to environmental factors such as water pollution and drought-driven scarcity perpetuating a vicious cycle of impoverishment and ecological damage, according to Kacou.