Pressure on the environment and growing disparities between rich and
poor people are threatening global stability at least as much as terrorism,
according to a new report released Thursday by a Washington D.C.-based
In the report, "State of the World 2002", the Worldwatch
Institute--which monitors global progress on issues such as
climate change, population, farming, and pollution--urged world
leaders to take stronger steps to close equality gaps as a means
of increasing security around the world.
According to Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin, the September
11 attacks on the United States were "powerful reminders that the
ecological instability of today's world is matched by an instability
in human affairs that must be urgently addressed."
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a foreword to the
study, called on world leaders to recognize that "the perilous state
of our world is an object of genuine, urgent concern." He said they
must strike a more "sustainable balance between nature and the human
economy," when they meet in Johannesburg, South Africa, this September
for a major UN development summit.
Current policies such as the low priority assigned to environmental
issues, a decrease in foreign aid, and an increase in indebtedness
among developing nations are jeopardizing global stability, as poorer
countries are prevented from tackling problems such as the spread
of HIV, unsafe drinking water, unequal land distribution, and illiteracy
The failure of the world's nations to live up to environmental
promises made 10 years ago at the "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil, can be measured by the nine percent increase in global carbon
dioxide emissions, the 17 percent increase in damage to coral reefs,
and the inability of the international community to reach agreement
on the Kyoto Protocol - a treaty aimed at cutting the "greenhouse
gases" shown to fuel global warming.
To redress these trends, the report suggests a set of "sustainability
goals" for heads of state attending the Johannesburg development
summit, which has been nicknamed Rio+10.
Enforcing the Kyoto Protocol and convincing the U.S. to adopt
it would represent a crucial step forward, the report says. Another
step would be a commitment to reward farmers who avoid harmful pesticides
and synthetic fertilizers, and a tax or other penalty on those who
The report also recommends phasing out leaded gasoline, funding
research on safe waste-disposal methods, and ratifying three major
treaties aimed at reducing toxic substances.
Worldwatch urges funding increases for reproductive healthcare
and support of the right to education for women as antidotes to
unchecked population growth, one of the main factors placing pressure
on the Earth's natural resources.
Addressing the conflicts which erupt in poor countries with large
quantities of non-renewable resources, the report advises world
leaders to agree on certification systems discouraging illegal trade,
and to support stronger monitoring and enforcement by the UN.
Other recommendations include more intensive partnerships between
governments, civil society groups, and businesses to work towards
achieving urgent global goals and exerting control over tourism
to protect people, cultural heritage, and the environment.
Copyright © 2002 Oneworld.net.