With some 60 per cent of the planet's ecosystem currently being degraded by human activities, the global community must take speedy action or else face a future of 6 billion people “scratching around trying to survive,” the head of the United Nations environmental agency said today.
“In the end we are all facing poverty if we fail to address environmental decline, if we fail to reinvest in nature’s capital,” UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer told the opening session of a three-day brainstorming seminar at the London School of Economics on how to mainstream environment in pro-poor development strategies.
“You cannot continue to drive a car if all you do is put petrol in the tank,” he warned. “It needs servicing, parts require replacing and we must pay for the roads and infrastructure on which it runs. In reality, nature is even more complicated.
“By continually depleting and damaging it and without investment in the running, maintenance and management costs, the Earth’s life support can suddenly and abruptly fade or switch to become less productive and unpredictable.
“I believe we are slowly winning this political and economic argument but not fast enough. So we must hurry up, otherwise all 6 billion of us will eventually be scratching around trying to survive,” he added.
The 10-12 October seminar has brought together experts in environmental economics as well as senior figures from the environmental and intergovernmental fields. They are discussing multilateral agreements governing such environmental concerns as biological diversity, migratory species and the global climate.
These treaties could go a long way towards helping refine ecosystem valuations and to improve cost-benefit analysis of targeted investments in degraded ecosystems to boost political and financial support for this nature-based approach.
One of the primary aims is to see how pro-poor markets can be created to generate income for those in desperate need while conserving the life-support systems upon which they and the rest of the world depend.