Sustain-Earth.Com supports all active efforts and challenges to promote and implement the Paris Agreement and the UN SDGs.
With the ongoing efforts to promote and implement the UN-SDGs including the EU vote to ratify the Paris Agreement (http://bit.ly/2dpyVoa) there are emerging key strategic issues. Countries around the world are called upon to act quickly to fulfill all the promises for the protection and preservation of the Earth’s natural resources. All society sectors (private and public), knowledge disciplines and human activities on planet Earth, both vertically and horizontally, have direct responsibilities in the ongoing process of transformation. There should be tools and instruments to assess the role and involvements on several levels, i.e. through coordinated webs of Key Performance Indicators. Among such instruments is the Nobel Prize which indeed played, and still playing, important role in promoting essential knowledge disciplines. However, knowledge in itself has to be promptly and effectively utilized by all sectors and on all levels to promote and implement the Paris agreement through effective coupling of diverse and wide spectra of knowledge to society, population and the market needs. It is interesting to see how far the Nobel Prize contributed in the past in developing the UN-SDGs, and also how much it will contribute in promoting and implementing these goals in future.
By founding the Nobel Prize in 1901 Alfred Nobel made the name Nobel famous worldwide. But Alfred’s prize was not the first Nobel Prize. As early as 1889 the Ludvig Nobel Award was founded. Ludvig was Alfred Nobel’s older brother and worked as a scientist, inventor and businessman in Russia during the second half of the 19th century. Alfred was most likely inspired by his brother Ludvig when founding his Nobel Prize, one of the most prestigious scientific awards of all times. Ludvig and his other bother, Robert Nobel, had an oil company in Baku, a manufacturing site for diesel engines in St. Petersburg and many other industrial sites throughout Russia during the late 19th century. Ludvig, however, strived to improve the conditions for the workers at the industrial sites by the introduction of shorter working hours, schools, healthcare, recreational facilities and also cooperative banking system for the employees. This was the 1st global initiative towards the implementation of Applied Sustainability but still lacked the environmental issues. In this context Sustainability and Social commitment was the trademark of the Nobel industries as visioned by Ludvig and Robert Nobel. The Russian revolution in 1917 changed the scene dramatically. Ludvig Nobel’s prize in science and research never became much more than a dream due to the revolution.
Thanks to the global trends of human thinking and the recognition of R&D as an integrated part in socio-economic developments, i.e. in the framework of the UN-SDGs, today the efforts of Ludvig Nobel and his brother have not been forgotten specially in Russia and Azerbaijan.
Recently, the Nobel family has taken the initiative to honor the memory of Ludvig. The Nobel Sustainability Trust was founded with the purpose of encouraging research and/or practice of sustainable and renewable energy, through an award. Not to be confused with the Nobel prize of Alfred Nobel and will be given to worthy individuals or organizations that during the year have carried out significant accomplishments in the field of renewable/sustainable energy (http://nobelsustainability.org/history/).
However, there are other wider initiatives to realize the importance of UN-SDG as they involve coupling many other sectors and disciplines in particular those related to Water – Energy – Natural Resources Nexuses. Still water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries are taken much smaller proportion in relation to the R&D done within energy-related sectors and disciplines. In this context, additional steps are being taken by the United Planet Faith and Science Initiative by launching a website that attempts to win a Nobel Peace Prize for Sustainable Development (NP4SD.org) with a shared nomination of an organization and two individuals. As explained by “NP4SD.org” it is not a new Nobel Prize, it is a Peace Prize to be shared by nominees whose work is foundational and seminal in the field of sustainable development (http://www.upfsi.org/). Among cases in the past where sustainability issues were taken in consideration is 2004-Peace Prize (http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2004/press.html).
Among other strategic efforts to support UN-SDGs, is to give Ecological Economics greater worldwide exposure and to create more widespread understanding of other strategic fields of importance for our well-being, survival and life-quality on planet earth and its growing population (http://www.isecoeco.org/nobel-peace-prize-for-sustainable-development/). Yet, much more is still needed to be done to promote and implement better policies for education, R&D and Transfer-of-Knowledge in the developing countries. If the Nobel Prize is used as indicator for these strategic activities it is very easy to conclude that the major parts of planet earth suffer from huge knowledge poverty. Then we can simply ask how the UN-SDGs be effectively implemented to achieve global sustainable socio-economic developments? Would the UN-SDGs be only a day-night dream for generations to come?
This said, the traditional Nobel Prize has on large-scale and long-term perspective an long-standing importance, directly or indirectly, on improving our overall understanding of planet Earth and to some extent the fundamentals of improving life quality on the Earth’s surface. Building on science pyramid on large-scale and long-term perspective is strategic in pushing forward the wheels of technology and development. However, developments in science and technology in the past century along with the weak coupling with global sociey sectors through ineffective policy-making and lack of global coordination have caused the ongoing degradation in life quality on Earth. These negative trends could have be avoided or even limited if the UN-SDGs were realized and founded much earlier.
“Sustain-Earth.Com” is inviting you to visit the given link for free PDF downloading of an award-winning e-book (The Sustainable Business) about sustainability and the circular economy.
Free copies of the book are distributed for the purpose of explaining the fundamentals of waste elimination and resource-life extension (two core components of sustainability) and to facilitate sustainable business development and job creation.
Currently, the book is used as an introductory course text (in business schools), as a basic training manual in businesses, and as a beginner’s guide for educating the general public. You are welcome to use it to do the same.
‘The Sustainable Business’ is updated approximately every two years and is available in five languages. All translations of the e-book (English, Arabic, Mandarin, Polish and Simplified Chinese) can be downloaded from EFMD here: https://www.efmd.org/research/the-sustainable-business
EFMD is Europe’s premier academic-quality assessment organization; it accredits the world’s leading business schools. Just click on the book cover photo of the language you want.
Again, you are welcome to share all the EFMD/CIPS sustainability portfolio materials (including the short videos) with your colleagues and networks – that’s what they are for!
There reasons why the Earth’s system, as it is, is evolving in such a way that life quality is gradually degraded with emergence of new large-scale and long-term irreversible threats, e.g. global warming, decline of natural resources, collapse in bio-divesity and accelerating degradation in life quality. However, understanding the base-line conditions and requirements for the appropriate functioning and metabolism of the Earth’s system calls for instruments and tools to define the Earth system as it should be. This is essential and imperative at least for the survival of life on earth and to bring about sustainable socio-economic developments around the world.
Earth system science (ESS) is the application of system’s science to the Earth’s system. In particular, the interactions between the Earth’s “spheres”—atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, geosphere, pedosphere, biosphere, and, also, the magnetosphere – as well as the impact of humans on these components. At its broadest scale, Earth system science brings together researchers across both the natural and social sciences, from diverse fields including ecology, economics, geology, glaciology, meteorology, oceanography, paleontology, sociology, and space science. Like the broader subject of system’s science, Earth system science assumes a holistic view of the dynamic interaction between the Earth’s spheres and their many constituent subsystems, the resulting organization and time evolution of these systems, and their stability or instability.
The Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, offers the following description: “Earth system science embraces chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and applied sciences in transcending disciplinary boundaries to treat the Earth as an integrated system. In this context, we can achieve a deeper understanding of the physical, chemical, biological and human interactions that determine the past, current and future states of the Earth. Earth system science provides a physical basis for understanding the world in which we live and upon which humankind seeks to achieve sustainability.
Poverty is not new and has been with us for centuries and even for millenniums and there are several reasons for poverty (http://www.poverties.org/blog/causes-of-poverty). What we know from history is that there was no poverty, i.e. as we know it today, in Ancient Egypt (http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/economy/). However, the vast majority of the population, probably 90% during the first two millennia of Egypt’s history, lived on the land in mostly self sufficient village communities and in a state close to serfdom.In practice a virtual ownership evolved when land could be freely bought and sold. Apart from the tenant peasants, a large section of the population worked as farm labourers. Administrators, priests, traders and craftsmen lived mostly in the cities along the Nile, which could be supplied with victuals relatively easily and cheaply by boat.
From ancient Egypt, and other similar civilizations, modern poverty started somewhere at sometime and grown to the extent that it became an enormous problem and huge shame for humanity. In this process slaves became the route and even an official high-way to poverty. During this poverty became much rooted in many countries around the world, still it remain rooted and even expanding in many others countries (http://earthitude.com/top-9-problems-our-world-is-facing/).
In this context, it must be a distinction between slavery and poverty, though both are not acceptable in modern democracies. One can be slave but not poor and one can be poor but not slave, however one can be both poor and slave. Poor can very easily be slaved for any purpose and once are slaved they can not decide, and even allowed to do so, and the only option for then is to carry out orders and even accept severe humiliation. This is even the case anywhere but in different forms and various levels.
Global poverty started as poor people were first exported as slaves out from where they are living, in particular out of Africa by the rich and through the rich as slaves with no economic rights. Later on, there were left in the hands of colonization and capital where they were used as slaves and servants (also with no economic rights) but this time, also, in their own home countries. After self-independence that became slaves for whatever they were paid for, i.e. the economic rights are totally in the hands of the owners and capital-investors. Now to be free from, or to get rid of poverty is not a simple task at all for both sides, i.e. for the poor who needs the money and for the rich who need to keep their business running. This is just to put facts flat and in this case there are no simple or patented solutions.
Another huge source of modern slavery and poverty are wars, civil wars , and political conflicts, where whole groups, communities, populations and families are threatened and forced by the gun out of there homes. Typical examples exist in e.g. Africa the MENA regions, and still a continuous source of global insecurity and instability.
Even the UN “United Nations” and the WB “World Bank” are seeking data and information “know-about” from people around the world to know what to be done, where and how. A possible solution is using “Reverse Engineering, RE” to slowly propagate knowledge, know-how and resources among communities of different populations. Here are some information on RE (http://definitelyfilipino.com/blog/reverse-engineering-a-way-out-of-poverty/; http://sbj.net/Content/ENEWS-ARTICLES/ENEWS-ARTICLES/Article/Work-to-reverse-engineer-poverty-underway-via-Northwest-Project/29/82/103878). If you know of anymore or your have your own RE-poverty solution get it posted here. We create, compile and have more wider discussion on the issue.
But what is Reverse Engineering “RE”. Reverse engineering, also called back engineering, is the processes of extracting knowledge or design information from anything man-made and re-producing it or re-producing anything based on the extracted information. By understanding the history, processes and dynamics of poverty evolution, it would be possible to reverse the process and make the poor more and more less poor and thereby achieving reasonable levels of equality of the benefit of everyone, i.e. it is a matter of sharing benefits (https://www.fastcoexist.com/3043531/how-the-sharing-economy-could-help-the-poorest-among-us). The process often involves disassembling something (a mechanical device, electronic component, computer program, or biological, chemical, organic matter or even socio-economic structures) and analyzing its components and workings in detail. The reasons and goals for obtaining such information vary widely from everyday or socially beneficial actions depending upon the situation.
Any group preparing for a difficult mission such as climbing towards high tops against strong winds and steep heights, e.g. the Himalaya tops, knows that such mission is not free from an enormous number of excepted and unexpected risks. Accounting for such risks and taking all necessary measures and precautions is imperative not only for surviving, a long journey of such dimension, but also for fulfilling the goals of the mission. No one, whatsoever, can take such risks without careful planning and practise as well as having the necessary qualities and resources to withstand the all possible “known” and impossible “unknown” situations that can lead to failure. It is a matter of life or death and a journey where the very survival from the start to the end is a life mission, even after the mission itself is completed. The mission can, also be, understood and experienced as an instrument to learn and gain more merits “added-value” to cope with other future difficulties beyond the mission itself. It is from the “knowns” we can uncover, solve and cope with many other “unknowns”.
If we have to continue our survival on planet Earth, improve whatever can be improved and sustain the quality of life in the near future of coming generations we need to think the same way. Thinking about 2050-2100 we will be struggling to solve serious problems “peaks” facing us on planet Earth.
The future in this context requires convergence of our efforts and not divergence, i.e. to see the threats as common obstacles facing the life on earth and its quality. “sustain-earth.com” is an instrument for transformation of all the threats to challenges and to find solutions and implementations of what, why and how. It is about sustainability (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability).
Research and Development “R&D” has direct and indirect feedbacks and impacts on the global implementation, and also the successful achievements, of UN-SDG. One can expect that the UN-SDG can be achieved, and thereby implemented, as an Added-Value components to “R&D” Programs and Projects in cases where they are clearly specified and defined by funding organisations and institutes. This in turn will generate stronger, active and vital engagement of universities, academies, researchers and education programs in the promotion and implementation of UN-SDG. In particular shaping higher education, R&D for appropriate and timely promotion and implementation of the UN-SDG on local and regional scales with special focus on society and population needs. Also, with consideration to three pillars of sustainability (economic, social and environment issues) and building on the available natural resources in different regions. These are of course in addition to dedicated programs and projects where “R&D” directly deals with sustainability and sustainable developments in general.
Currently, there are no exact, detailed and coordinated global assessment policies/strategies on when, how and where the UN-SDG are to be achieved, though there are fragmented data on such issues in limited counties and regions. However, some information can be indirectly extracted from the global view of R&D, so as to examine strengths and weaknesses in following-up and assessing the perfomance by sectors, products, technologies, markets, regions and countries.
Research and development (R&D) is defined as the process of creating new products, processes and technologies that can be used and marketed for mankind’s benefit in the future. What regards sustainability, the interests and needs of future generations have to be taken in considerations. As the R&D processes and their costs vary from industry to industry, from country to country and from year to year, we can expect wide-range of variations in effectiveness, performance and time-scales of relevance for UN-SDG.
R&D investment in Asian countries (e.g. Japan, India and South Korea) including China is currently accounting for more than 40% of all global R&D investments, the North American investments now less than 30% and European R&D only slightly more than 20%. The rest of the world (Russia, Africa, South America and the Middle East countries) account for a combined 8.8% of the global R&D investments with combined average growth of only about 1.5% per year. Much of the R&D growth in any country around the world is driven by that country’s economic growth.
There are substantial changes that are being seen in industrial R&D makeup. Life science R&D, for example, has been the largest sector in the industrial technology arena. However, the automotive arena is expected to grow their R&D programs due to strong technology shifts from internal combustion to electric propulsion systems, manual to automated driving systems and increasingly integrated electronic systems. Other changes include the rapid and mostly unexpected implementation of self-driving cars; the emergence of electric cars, which could supplant a significant portion of fossil fuel-powered vehicles in a relatively short period; and the availability of large amounts of fossil fuels at low prices not experienced in more than 20 years. Fast forward to today, unlike what was known before, there’s an oil glut on the world market, gas prices are where they were 25 years ago and the U.S. has considered exporting crude oil from its shale oil reserves. Saudi Arabia and other traditional oil exporting countries will be faced with serious economic difficulties because of low gas prices.
Solar-powered technologies continue to be a relatively small sector of the overall energy industry that is populated by comparatively smaller technology companies. Most of these small energy companies, with strong future market forecasts, expect to increase their R&D spending in 2016. Solar cells, power converters and associated hardware continue to improve in overall effiencies, while dropping lightly in overall prices. In the Automotive industry, lithium-ion batteries are improving which in combination with computers can bring about new trends in automotive markets. Solar-panel system, also for small industries and other consumer uses, can shape additional new trends.
Except in the automotive arena, the U.S. industries gained more technological advantage than they lost in many other areas. This includes advanced materials, commercial aerospace, communications, computing/IT, energy, environmental, instrumentation, life science, military/defense, and pharmaceutical/ biotech.
What regards R&D, academia has become the go-to organization for performing advanced basic research and even applied research when government or industrial organizations are looking for cost-effective ways to perform a development program. For many years now, academia has performed the majority of basic research as industrial organizations have reduced their involvement in basic research. The U.S. university and college systems continue to lead other countries in research, technology and innovation. For example, of the top 10 universities in the world, eight are in the U.S. (Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UC-Berkeley, Princeton, CalTech, Columbia and the Univ. of Chicago) and two are in the U.K. (Cambridge and Oxford). Of the top 20 universities in the world, 16 are in the U.S., with Switzerland’s ETH and Univ. College London being the non-U.S.-based standouts—the other top U.S. universities include Yale, UCLA, Cornell, UC- San Diego, Univ. of Washington, Univ. of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins and UC-San Francisco. This ranking system is run by the Center for World Class Universities at Shanghai Jiao Tong Univ., China. However, five of the top 10 in the Economic Intelligence Unit’s 2015 Global Talent Index are in Europe—Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The same countries as were in the top 10 for the 2011 version of the Index. The U.S. was number one in both versions of the Index. The Nordic region of Europe is noteworthy as it has four of the top countries in the talent index. The Nordic region as a whole has high government spending, as a percentage of GDP which is maintained throughout all stages of education, right through to universities, which explains why it has outperformed so many prominent rivals in the developed world in the overall index. The linguistic and technical skills of the Nordic countries’ working population are also particularly strong.
What concerns R&D staff, the researchers surveyed indicated that money is likely the most important component for maintaining and attracting researchers. Tied closely to creating a strong research staff is the creation of an innovation culture within the R&D organization.
R&D has been, still and will remain imperative for understanding and making the “best” of “our” lives on planet “earth”. Here comes three questions: first, how to assess the outcome and “how best is best”; second, which lives and which are those included in “our”; third, what are the impacts on “earth” and would the earth provide all the necessary ingredients at all times. The attached file demonstrates that R&D around the world is still driven with less investments towards solving the threats facing the majority of world population. The focus as far as the majority of the world population is concerned is still geared towards one of the three main sustainability pillars which is “Economy”. The “environment” and “social” issues of the majority of the world population have to remain of much less priority.
The history of technology (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_technology) involves invention, development and implementation of techniques, skills, methods and solutions with consideration to the best available knowledge and know-how. In the evolution of technology it was shaped and reshape by using different forms of energy: man and animal power (muscle’s energy); energy from plants in (agriculture revolution); energy from simple natural resources (fossil-fuel era); and the advanced use of natural resources (nuclear power). The history of technological evolution thus describe transformations in life-styles and civilizations. Throughout these historical transformations, humans realized not only the importance of energy for life and survival but more importantly the limitations, threats and negative impacts embedded in the different forms of energy and associated interactions in the life-cycles of production and consumption. More recently, we came about the needs to be able to master all problems, threats, negative impacts and possibly even control the future using technology (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technology). This is the birth of sustainability and creation of green technologies with renewable and sustainable energy resources (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_energy) for the sake of protection and preservation of natural resources in particular aquatic, ecosystem and biodiversity, i.e. life and its quality on earth.
In ecology, sustainability is the capacity to use our natural and essential resources for benefit of future generations as well (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability). However, from the geological perspective and biological evolution viewpoint, the future of the Earth can be extrapolated based upon the estimated effects of several long-term influences. This is indeed, very complex and can only be predicted without great details (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_the_Earth).
It is very interesting to understand the role of universities and their mission in the past and in the present and how would such role and mission look like in the future. The universities around the world are undergoing several changes with new pressures and constrains as the world itself is becoming more and more dynamic, complex and unpredictable. With growing population, declining resources, increasing mobility of people, changing demography and diversification of the labor market. Also, with enhanced pressures on rapid transformation to sustainable socio-economies with strict policies for effective implementation of the UN-SDG it is hard to believe that the universities, their role, mission and in particular their interaction with other sectors will remain to be the same. Questions arise; how would universities look like in the future in particular their role to guide society and population into more sustainable future and economy at least on local and regional levels. In fact, sustainable future is what policy-makers, the populations, the market, new comers and professionals are eager to have and contribute in.
Until the 19th century, religion played a significant role in university curriculum; however, the role of religion in research and university affairs decreased in the 19th century, and by the end of the 19th century, the German university model had spread around the world. Universities concentrated on science in the 19th and 20th centuries and became increasingly accessible to the masses. The move from Industrial Revolution to modernity saw the arrival of new civic universities with an emphasis on science and engineering.
As universities increasingly came under state control, the faculty governance model became more and more prominent. Although the older student-controlled universities still existed, they slowly started to move toward this structural organization. Control of universities still tended to be independent, although university leadership was increasingly appointed by the state. A university is in general (Latin: universitas, “a whole”) still an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which grants academic degrees in various subjects and typically provides undergraduate and postgraduate education. The word “university” also means “community of teachers and scholars.” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/University).
The University’s mission and core values
sustainable development is a concept that is not new, and yet it is complex and not easy to define. In 1987, the Brundtland report from the World Commission on Environment and Development defined it as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. With the birth of the UN-SDG, the role for higher education in sustainable development in becoming more and more critical in many aspects. Institutions now have the responsibility, more than ever before, to integrate sustainable development into all their teaching, research, community engagement and campus operation. A chain of many changes will gradually shape and reshape higher education and R&D around the world. So the mission of universities is far from being complete and has never been as complex as it is today (http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20150108194231213).
Indeed, UN-SDG can be regarded as the last call, after a series of regular and continuous calls on several regional and global levels, for meeting pressing and urgent needs for implementation of effective, practical and immediate solutions and measures of the pilling threats and degradation on earth’s environmental and climate systems.
Now the UNEP releases its recent GEO-6 Regional Assessment documents, May 2016. The Networking of “sustain-earth.com” got this information also from Hussein Abaza, an excellent Reporter on sustainability issues and Director at Centre for Sustainable Development Solutions “CSDS”, Cairo, Egypt.
A series of regional reports on the state of the planet’s health deliver the message that environmental deterioration is occurring much faster than previously thought and action is needed now to reverse the worst trends. The ‘Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6): Regional Assessments,’ published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), is a compilation of six reports examining environmental issues affecting the world’s six regions: the Pan-European region, North America, Asia and the Pacific, West Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), and Africa.
The release of the regional assessments coincides with the second session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2), which is convening in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23-27 May 2016. The Pan-European assessment will be launched at the eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Batumi, Georgia, on 8 June 2016.
The assessments found that the regions share a range of common environmental threats, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, population growth, rapid urbanization, rising consumption levels, desertification and water scarcity, which all must be addressed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The assessments involved 1,203 scientists, hundreds of scientific institutions and more than 160 governments, and are based on scientific data and peer reviewed literature. The regional assessments will inform GEO-6, which will be released before 2018 and will provide an assessment of the state, trends and outlook of the global environment.
The GEO-6 LAC assessment notes the strong impact of emissions from agriculture in the region, including an increase in nitrous oxide emissions of about 29% between 2000 and 2010 from soils, leaching and runoff, direct emissions and animal manure, and an increase in methane emissions of about 19% due to the plethora of beef and dairy cattle. Regarding air pollution, the assessment points to particulate matter (PM) concentrations above World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. In addition, Andean glaciers, which provide water for millions, are shrinking. The LAC region has eliminated lead in gasoline and made headway in reducing ozone-depleting substances.
Approximately 41% of all reported natural disasters over the last two decades have occurred in the Asia and the Pacific region, according to the regional assessment. In Southeast Asia, more than one million hectares is deforested annually. Other environmental issues discussed in the report reference that: approximately 30% of the region’s population drinks water contaminated by human feces; water-related diseases and unsafe water contribute to 1.8 million deaths annually; uncontrolled dumping is a significant source of disease; and population growth, a growing middle class and urbanization have led to higher emissions, ill-managed waste and increased consumption.
In West Asia, an increase in degraded land and the spread of desertification are among the region’s most pressing challenges, as they lead to an increase in water demand, over-exploitation of groundwater resources and deteriorating water quality. In addition, conflict and displacement are having severe environmental impacts, such as heavy metals from explosive munitions and radiation from missiles leaching into the environment, and increased waste production and disease outbreaks. Almost 90% of municipal solid waste is disposed of in unlined landfill sites and is contaminating groundwater resources. The report estimates that air pollution alone caused more than 70,000 premature deaths in 2010.
In Africa, air pollution accounts for 600,000 premature deaths annually. The report also highlights that 68% of the population had clean water in 2012. In addition, inland and marine fisheries face over-exploitation from illegal, under-reported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. According to the report, around 500,000 square meters of land in Africa is being degraded by soil erosion, salinization, pollution and deforestation. African megacities, such as Cairo, Kinshasa and Lagos, have inadequate sanitation services.
In North America, environmental conditions, including air pollution, drinking water quality and well-managed protected areas, have improved due to policies, institutions, data collection and assessment and regulatory frameworks. However, aggressive hydrocarbon extraction methods can lead to increased emissions, water use and induced seismicity, while coastal and marine environments are experiencing, inter alia, ocean acidification and sea-level rise. Climate change is exacerbating the drought in California by approximately 15-20%, and Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, was directly responsible for approximately 150 deaths and US$70 billion in losses. However, mitigation efforts are having a positive impact; for example, solar deployment made up 40% of the market for new electricity generation in the US in the first half of 2015, and solar now powers 4.6 million homes. In the Arctic, warming has increased at twice the global average since 1980, and over the past twenty years, summer sea ice extent has dramatically decreased, which has, inter alia, created new expanses of open ocean, enabling more phytoplankton to bloom and alter the marine food chain.
Overall, recommendations of the assessments include, inter alia: strengthening intergovernmental coordination at the regional and sub-regional levels; improving gathering, processing and sharing data and information; enhancing sustainable consumption and production (SCP); harnessing natural capital in a way that does not damage ecosystems; implementing pollution control measures; investing in urban planning; reducing dependence on fossil fuels, and diversifying energy sources; investing in environmental accounting systems to ensure external costs are addressed; and building resilience to natural hazards and extreme climate events. [UN Press Release] [UNEP Press Release] [UNEP Knowledge Repository] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Africa ] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Asia Pacific] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean ] [Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for North America] [ Factsheet for GEO 6 Regional Assessment for West Asia] [ Full Regional Assessment for Africa ] [Full Regional Assessment for Asia Pacific] [Full Regional Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean ] [Full Regional Assessment for North America ] [Full Regional Assessment for West Asia].
Now it remains to see how these “SMART GOALS” will be further put in an effective and fast implementation agenda of actions. They are still many unclear details as what, when, how and where these goals will be dealt with in particular who will do what, how and when. Though the UN-SDG seem to be more or less specific in general terms, they need to be successful and instruments have to be put in place to measure such success as what you can not measure is does not exist and what you can not measure you can not control. Unless these goals become successful they will be gone with the wind as many other smart UN goals.