Report on the Global Environmental Outlook

Journal of Environmental Health, December 1999 | Go to article overview

Report on the Global Environmental Outlook


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) launched its Global Environment Outlook 2000 (GEO-2000) report in September. Based on contributions from U.N. agencies, 850 individuals, and more than 30 environmental institutes, GEO-2000 outlines progress on existing problems and points to serious new threats. It concludes by setting out recommendations for immediate action.

GEO-2000 analyzes both global and regional issues. Its key finding is that "the continued poverty of the majority of the planet's inhabitants and excessive consumption by the minority are the two major causes of environmental degradation. The present course is unsustainable, and postponing action is no longer an option."

According to GEO-2000, full-scale emergencies now exist in a number of fields. The world water cycle seems unlikely to be able to cope with demands in the coming decades, land degradation has negated many advances made by increased agricultural productivity, air pollution is at a crisis point in many major cities, and global warming now seems inevitable.

Tropical forests and marine fisheries have been overexploited, while numerous plant and animal species and extensive stretches of coral reefs will be lost forever because of inadequate policy responses. In a survey conducted for GEO-2000 by the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment, 200 scientists in 50 countries identified water shortage and global warming as the two most worrying problems for the new millennium. …

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