As the world gears up for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), World Environment Day is an opportunity to highlight the need for a paradigm shift towards a more sustainable world. This year’s theme, “Green Economy: Does it include you?” underscores the need for everyone to play their part in keeping humankind's ecological footprint within planetary boundaries.
The world’s population stands at 7 billion and may rise to more than 9 billion by 2050. This means greater pressure on already crowded cities – where more than half of all people now live – and on natural resources, as demand for food, water and energy rises. It also means more people in search of decent jobs. Globally, 1.3 billion people are currently unemployed or under-employed. An estimated half billion more will join the job market over the next decade.
Sustainability entails providing opportunity for all by balancing the social, economic and environmental dimensions of development. We have to rebut the myth that there is conflict between economic and environmental health. With smart policies and the right investments, countries can protect their environment, grow their economies, generate decent jobs and accelerate social progress.