Our sustainable future

Updated: 2012-06-05 08:07

(China Daily)

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The theme for the 40th World Environ-ment Day - Green Economy: Does it include you? - is aimed at encouraging public participation in the adoption of a new growth model that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

However, while recognizing the importance of individual responsibility, it should be noted that it is policymakers around the world who will be held accountable for the lack of progress in achieving sustainable and equitable development.

With the world economy yet to see any light at the end of tunnel after the onset of the global financial crisis, it is high time policymakers from all countries aggressively embraced green growth as the only way to deliver a cleaner, greener and more sustainable 21st century.

A global transition to a green economy has been underway since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil in 1992. But there is mounting evidence that the transition to a green economy is not happening fast enough.

Global sustainable development has been seriously challenged by rapid population growth, increasing poverty, unequal North-South development, severe pollution, the reduction in biodiversity, desertification and global climate change.

There is still no international consensus on global food security or on ways to nourish a population of 9 billion by 2050.

Worse, the worst global financial crisis since 1930s has not only dampened global growth prospects, it has also pushed policymakers in debt-laden rich countries to either choose growth-depressing austerity or inflation-fueling monetary easing.

The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or "Rio+20" is to be held soon, but policymakers in these countries are still shying away from the painful, but necessary, structural reforms that will make the green economy the bedrock of their future prosperity.

China issued its first national report on sustainable development last Friday, which underscored the urgency of transforming its development pattern.

To pursue a sustainable future for all, the international community should jointly make the World Environment Day a wake-up call for policy changes to improve people's well-being and social equity while reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

(China Daily 06/05/2012 page8)