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GEO-3: GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT OUTLOOK  
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Constraints are lifted ...

Throughout the world, cuts in subsidies to agriculture and the opening of trade in agricultural products modify the environmental impacts of agriculture. The use of debt-for-nature swaps and the outright purchase of debt for the right to exploit genetic resources contribute to the preservation of some natural areas, especially within tropical regions, while at the same time easing the debt burdens of these countries. Similar actions are taken to preserve natural or cultural heritage sites that also happen to be key tourist attractions.

Somewhat less directly, certain advances in technology and structural changes in economies produce environmental and social benefits, through improvements in efficiency. In transportation, the development and spread of more efficient and cleaner fuel burning vehicles, beginning with hybrid and moving towards fuel celled vehicles (with methanol as the carrier of hydrogen) curbs the increase in fossil fuel use. The growth in transportation is also tempered by continued progress in ICTs. More people now work from home.

Energy efficiency continues to improve as deregulation proceeds, opening up markets in micropower developments. Micro-power becomes increasingly important in rural areas of the poorer regions, where the high cost of extending electricity grids has restricted the power supply network. Improvements in irrigation techniques and advances in desalination improve water use efficiency, particularly in West Asia and arid parts of other regions. Agriculture further benefits from progress in biotechnology, which increases yields and helps to reduce the pressure on ecosystem resources in many regions. Biotechnology also has positive effects in the areas of wastewater treatment. Advances in nano-technology improve materials use efficiency.