MDG Progress in Short 7: Environmental Sustainability

Regarding “environmental sustainability”, things haven’t changed dramatically since 1997 compared to 2010.  The world seems to have lost 1% forests.  China, India, and Viet Nam appear to be replanting rapidly, whereas South America and Africa are losing the most.  In general, loss of biodiversity, i.e. extinction, is still threatening THE CIRCLE OF LIFE at an ever advancing rate.

I’ve been consistently annoyed, throughout reading this Millennium Development Goal Progress Report (sited at the bottom), that the report does not list individual “developed” countries, as it dubs the richer portions of the globe.  Clearly, it would behoove us to see more clearly how America, for instance, lines up against other countries on environmental sustainability targets.

These goals focus on increasing access to safe drinking water in rural areas where more people have less access.  However, we must also pay attention to our backyards  where corporate pollution of waterways is a serious threat to the continued health of water supplies right here in the States.


Ambitious tree-planting programmes in several countries (largely, India, China and Viet Nam) combined with the natural expansion of forests in some regions, have added more than 7 million hectares of new forest annually. As a result, the net loss of forest area over the period 2000-2010 was reduced to 5.2 million hectares per year, down from 8.3 million hectares per year in 1990- 2000.

TARGET:  Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental resources

TARGET:  Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss

The world has missed the 2010 target for biodiversity conservation, with potentially grave consequences
Though some success in biodiversity conservation has been achieved, and the situation may well have been worse without the 2010 target, the loss of biodiversity continues—unrelentingly. Nearly 17,000 species of plants and animals are known to be threatened with extinction. Based on current trends, the loss of species will continue throughout this century, with increasing risk of dramatic shifts in ecosystems and erosion of benefits for society. Despite increased investment in conservation planning and action, the major drivers of biodiversity loss—including high rates of consumption, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and climate change—are not yet being sufficiently addressed.
Biodiversity is vitally important for human well-being since it underpins a wide range of ecosystem services on which life depends. Billions of people, including many of the poorest, rely directly on diverse species of plants and animals for their livelihoods and often for their very survival. The irreparable loss of biodiversity will also hamper efforts to meet other MDGs, especially those related to poverty, hunger and health, by increasing the vulnerability of the poor and reducing their options for development.

TARGET:  Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

If current trends continue, the world will meet or even exceed the MDG drinking water target by 2015. By that time, an estimated 86 per cent of the population in developing regions will have gained access to improved sources of drinking water. Four regions, Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Asia and South-Eastern Asia, have already met the target.

At the current rate of progress, the world will miss the target of halving the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation. In 2008, an estimated 2.6 billion people around the world lacked access to an improved sanitation facility. If the trend continues, that number will grow to 2.7 billion by 2015….

All the data listed in this blog set are pulled from the Millenium Development Goals Report of 2010, a progress report issued by the UN earlier in 2010. Each goal can help us understand some of the pressing crises of the world, bringing it into focus in our own lives.  Click here to find out some ways to get involved and make this new year time to reflect on the needs of the world.


About C. Sala Hewitt

C. Sala Hewitt
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Keepers of the Seed and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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