Environmental trends threaten to halt or even reverse development progress in the world’s poorest nations unless significant measures are taken to curb influences such as climate change and habitat destruction, according to the United Nations Development Program’s annual report on the quality of life worldwide.
But social factors such as subpar healthcare, poor education, gender inequality and income disparities also play a role in hindering the sustainability of the world’s population, according to the report entitled “Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All.” It was launched Wednesday in Copenhagen.
“Sustainability is not exclusively or even primarily an environmental issue,” UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said in the foreword of the report. “It is fundamentally about how we choose to live our lives, with an awareness that everything we do has consequences for the 7 billions of us here today, as well as for the billions more who will follow, for centuries to come.”
The report points out that between 1970 and 2010, countries ranking in the lowest 25% on the human development index improved their overall status by a notable 82%, and had the potential to improve their rankings even further over the next 40 years. But mounting environmental hazards, such as drought, flooding and exposure to air and water pollution were threatening to halt further progress of these nations by mid-century, according to the report.