People must join in battle for resources, says report

Posted: 15 July 2003

All governments must integrate environmental impacts into their economic decision-making, if global poverty and environmental detioration are to be successfully tackled, says the latest World Resources report.

Statistics from the report indicate an overwhelming human dependence on rapidly deteriorating ecosystems, the systems that support all life on earth.

One out of every six humans depends on fish for protein needs, yet 75 per cent of the world's fisheries are over-fished or fished at their biological limit. Nearly 41 of every 100 people live in water-stressed river basins.

And some 350 million people are directly dependent on forests for their survival, with global forest cover declining by 46 per cent since pre-agricultural times.

Window of opportunity

The latest World Resources 2000-2004 report, subtitled Decisions for the Earth - Balance, Voice, and Power, stresses the urgent need for fundamental changes in how decisions are made concerning the world's natural resources, if the accelerating deterioration of the world's environment and the crisis of global poverty are to be addressed.

Community and popular participation in decision-making makes for better environmental decisions, said WRI President Jonathan Lash at the London launch of the report.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said that there was a window of opportunity of about 10-15 years for saving the global environment.

There was widespread and growing dissatisfaction with environmental governance,he said, pointing to a Gallup International poll in 2000 which found that in 55 out of 60 countries surveyed, the majority of people did not think their governments were doing enough to address environmental issues.

"Poor communities are particularly vulnerable to failed environmental governance, since they rely more heavily on natural resources for subsistence and income," said Dr. Kristalina Georgieva, director of the Environment Department of The World Bank. "They are less likely to share in property rights that give them legal control over these resources."

World Resources is published every two years by World Resources Institute (WRI), UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank.

For the first time, the full World Resources database has been made freely accessible and searchable online on the companion website Earth Trends and on CD-ROM.