Ensure Environmental Sustainability
The seventh Millennium Development Goal is to ensure environmental sustainability. The goal is made up of four targets: integrate sustainable development principles into country practices and reverse the loss of environmental resources; reduce biodiversity loss; improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and; improve the lives of slum dwellers.
As countries in the Global South strive to acquire living standards equal to those in the Global North, the earth’s resources come under further strain. As such, it is imperative sustainable development practices are adopted and renewable energy sources explored. Thankfully, environmental sustainability has experienced an increased presence in public consciousness in recent years, with citizens pressuring governments to commit to carbon reduction targets and renewable energy investment. Major international efforts have been launched to address the issue – from the Kyoto Protocol to the Copenhagen Summit, to the grassroots People’s Conference on Climate Change in Bolivia this year.
On Track for Achievement
While the achievement of the goal faces some challenges, positive signs are emerging. The world is on track to meet the target of halving the proportion of the population with access to safe drinking water by 2015. The UN has reported that Latin America and Southern and Western Asia have already met or come close to meeting the target. Access to safe drinking water can significantly reduce the risk of death from water bourn diseases like cholera and typhoid fever.
However, some specific challenges still need to be addressed. Slum populations continue to grow as migration to urban areas intensifies, with urban infrastructure failing to keep up. In addition, biodiversity is increasingly under threat in the Global South from the introduction of biotechnologies posed as the solution to food shortages.
The world’s poorest nations are most at risk from the threats of environmental degradation. Small island nations face rising sea levels, while poorer farmers are less able to cope with and adapt to drought.
It is imperative that international efforts to ensure environmental sustainability are continued.
Article written by Iona Salter