The future is now
Role of information
Changing policies and strengthening implementation
The year 2002 is the beginning of the fourth
decade since the international community laid the foundation in 1972 for
collective global action to mitigate adverse impacts on the environment.
It finds one of the three pillars of sustainable development - the environment
- seriously listing because of the distortions placed on it by the actions
of a human population that now numbers more than 6 000 million. The importance
of the environment is often underplayed even though its value to human
survival and development is incalculable. The collapse of the environmental
pillar is a serious possibility if action - from local to global - is
not taken as a matter of urgency to address human impacts, which have
- increased pollutants in the atmosphere;
- vast areas of land resources degraded;
- depleted and degraded forests;
- biodiversity under threat;
- increasingly inadequate freshwater resources of deteriorating quality;
- seriously depleted marine resources.
The environment is under siege. Unless both shortand long-term changes
are instigated, sustainable development will remain a chimera - possibly
only in the haze on a distant horizon. There is need for a balanced approach
towards sustainable development. All three pillars - social, economic
and environmental - are mutually supportive and all three are essential.
Neglecting any one, and this is all too frequently the case with the environmental
pillar, is not only shortsighted but leads to a policy dead end. The disintegration
of the environmental pillar will lead to the inevitable collapse of the
other, more charismatic pillars of sustainable development to which policy
makers everywhere pay particular attention.