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Towards a better planet and a life of dignity for all

By Dr. Edgar E. Gutierrez-Espeleta | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2016-05-19 15:25

Towards a better planet and a life of dignity for all

Costa Rica is a destination that offers multiple possibilities for tourists.[Photo/IC]

As we approach the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), it is important to put into perspective the challenges facing the international community ahead of this crucial meeting and the fundamental goals that underpin it.

The gathering in Nairobi will be a part of a much broader global reflection. Its landmark precedents, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, have put the world on the road to making environmental sustainability key to human development and our efforts to end poverty and hunger.

At the threshold of this journey, which starts at UNEA, lies the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals - a global cornerstone that marks a sharp turn in the international community's course towards sustainable human development.

Evaluating accomplishments, measuring progress and quantifying pending objectives will be vital to the success of the Agenda 2030. The progress already made in recent years is enough to fill us with hope, but we cannot rest on our laurels, faced with the long list of unfinished tasks.

Poverty, inequality and exclusion continue to top the agendas of national governments and add complexity to planetary challenges. An abysmal distance still separates us from achieving a life of dignity for all; and every day the rapidly changing global dynamics adds new problems or exacerbates existing ones at a pace that far outstrips our ability to tackle them.

The unquestionable correlation between poverty and the environment obliges us to pay utmost attention to the role of environmental policies in tackling social inequality. Currently, the majority of people living in extreme poverty inhabit rural zones, where they rely on forests, natural resources and ecosystem services as their principal source of income. Paradoxically, global studies show that a vast proportion of these resources are subject to violent changes, degradation and unsustainable use, diminishing the capacity of ecosystems to satisfy the needs of peoples and nations.

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