Magazine article National Wildlife

Daunting Challenges

Magazine article National Wildlife

Daunting Challenges

Article excerpt

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, is a long way from America's Red Desert. But upcoming events there will be important to the cause of conservation both at home and abroad.

In late August, the World Summit on Sustainable Development opens in Johannesburg. Its mission is to address the plague of poverty that afflicts much of the world and to respond to increasing threats to global environmental health and security. The summit's task is to forge a blueprint for sustainable responses to these challenges--actions that meet this generation's needs without foreclosing choices for the generations to come.

The challenges are daunting. In the world today, more than a billion people lack access to clean drinking water. Ever-growing emissions of carbon dioxide are contributing to global warming.

More than 11,000 plant and animal species face a high risk of extinction. Between 1990 and 2000, more than 300 million acres of tropical forests that support biological diversity were lost globally, a trend that continues unabated.

Fortunately, the summit already has a road map to point it in the right direction. Ten years ago, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro surveyed the environmental challenges facing humanity and offered the people and governments of the world a plan to confront those challenges. Today, the environmental principles contained in the Rio summit's groundbreaking Agenda 21 are more important than ever. Implementing those principles can help the world confront ten additional years of economic globalization that has been out of balance with concerns for the environment, human health and the rights of working people.

In Johannesburg, NWF will work to build on the environmental success it helped to forge in Rio. The Federation will continue to be a leader in building a common-sense consensus for international trade rules that respect the environment and in advocating responsible, voluntary actions to reduce global population growth. …

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