Many may think us an unlikely pair – Republican Representative from Nebraska, in the heartland of America, and a progressive Democratic Senator from Rhode Island, the Ocean State. However, we have come together as Co-Chairs in the United States Congressional International Conservation Caucus because we share a conviction that good natural resource management is fundamental to building a strong economy, bolstering national security, and protecting public health.
As stretch targets for the world, the Sustainable Development Goals offer a game plan for harmonizing the demands of a fast-growing human population with a dwindling finite natural resource base. Business, government and civil society need to work together in radically new ways to meet them.
Here’s a prediction: planetary intelligence could emerge on Earth by 2050. “Hold on,” you might say, “that has emerged already, right? Homo Sapiens.” No. What we have is a technologically advanced civilization. There is a subtle difference.
There is no doubt that science is increasingly expanding our knowledge of the problem of environmental degradation (including our role in it) and the extent to which it affects our ability to continually improve our living conditions.
Since the Global Environment Facility was established more than 25 years ago, the global dimension of environmental challenges has become increasingly evident. Scientists tell us that our 'planetary boundaries', the bio-physical processes that determine the stability and resilience of the Earth, are being pushed to their limit or overstepped, with high risks of severely jeopardizing the very base that has allowed our societies to thrive over the past 10,000 years. Especially in developing countries, environmental degradation is imperiling, if not sweeping away, development achievements.
Climate change is the greatest threat facing our planet. The leaders of the world’s great cities recognize that fact and are taking urgent action. But mayors need strong allies to deliver the transformations needed to create sustainable, green cities of the future. There is no greater partner for our campaign to save the planet than the Global Environment Facility.
In the wake of the recent hurricanes that have devastated islands across the Caribbean, and other incidences of extreme weather around the world, disaster risk financing was on the agenda of the 2017 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
A number of sessions looked at the issue in advance of October 13, designated by the United Nations as the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
Since 2014, the Our Ocean conference has brought together world leaders, civil society organizations, executives, and oceans experts with the goal of driving concrete action to turn the tide of human-caused deterioration of the planet’s oceans.
Sustainable development is thirty years old. It was born in 1987 with the release of the “Our Common Future” report, which declared: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
There has been some progress since that time, but millions of children still become ill from dirty air and dirty water, tens of millions of people are displaced by disasters, and climate change threatens to undo the gains we have made against poverty. It’s clear there is more work to do.
We stand at a defining moment for the future of the planet and human well-being. Our global commons – the land, seas and atmosphere we share, and the ecosystems they host – are under severe threat from ever more powerful human activities.
Several planetary boundaries, within which human society has become established and thrives, have already been transgressed as we have taken the global commons for granted. On this trajectory, the threat – not just to the environment but to global aspirations for economic growth, prosperity, jobs and security – risks escalating out of control.