Before discussing about environmental sustainability, we should know the meaning of it. Environmental sustainability involves making decisions and taking actions that are in the interests of protecting the natural world, with particular emphasis on preserving the capability of the environment to support human life. Among 8 MDG goals, ensuring environmental sustainability is one of them.
The objectives of ensuring environmental sustainability are improving the sustainable management of natural resources, ensuring low emission project, transport systems, saving energy, promoting agriculture, reducing climate related threats towards the countries, sustainable access to safe drinking water including basic sanitation and by 2020, improving the living standards of around 100 million slum dwellers.
Now take a brief look towards the current situations of environmental sustainability. In comparison with 1990s, around 240000 people have accessed the proper sanitation but in 2011, more than 1.90 billion people have accessed the proper sanitation. The rate of improvement is more in Eastern Asia, where the cover of sanitation increased 27 percent in 1990 and 67 percent in 2011. However, more initiatives are needed to cover another 1 billion people by 2015. A practice that creates a serious risk to health and environment is stopping the open defecation.
A study has shown that around 863 million people in the developing countries are residing in slum. More than 200 million slum dwellers gained access to improved water, sanitation or durable and less crowded housing, thereby achieving twice over the MDG target of improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers between 2000 to 2010. The good news is that around 44 million people were considered no longer to be living in slum between 2010 to 2012.
Although the MDG slum target has been reached, the number of slum dwellers, in absolute terms, continues to grow, due in part to the fast pace of urbanization. The number of urban residents in the developing world living in slum conditions was estimated at 863 million in 2012, compared to 650 million in 1990 and 760 million in 2000. Stronger, more focused efforts are needed to improve the lives of the urban poor in cities and metropolises across the developing world.
Many species of birds and animals are heading for extinction at a fast pace, though many areas are under special protection. To maintain the biological diversity and natural diversity, significant progress has been made in increasing the coverage of protected areas. According to the survey, 14.6 per cent of the world’s land surface is now protected, while marine protection has more than doubled since 1990, from 4.6 per cent to 9.7 percent in coastal waters. But at the same time, species are moving towards extinction at an ever-faster pace, and reduced biodiversity will have serious consequences for the ecosystem services.
In line with birds and animals, forests are disappearing at a rapid pace, though many countries have already established the new polices and laws for sustainable forest management. The amount of deforestation is relatively high in South America. A survey have shown that around 3.60 million hectors forestland were disappeared from 2005 to 2010 in each year. In reality, deforestation is not only a threat to environment but also a hindrance towards the progress of hunger and poverty reduction and sustainable livelihoods, as forests provide food, water, wood, fuel and other services to mankind.
Now come for the biggest issue named Carbon-Di-Oxide emission. The rate of global Carbon-Di-Oxide emissions has increased more than 46 percent since 1990 but the bad news is that form 2009 to 2011 the Carbon-Di-Oxide emissions rate has increased by 5 percent. Growth in global emissions has accelerated, rising 33 per cent from 2000 to 2010. Containing this growth demands bold, coordinated national and international action. The goal is to complete negotiations on a new international agreement by 2015 and begin implementation in 2020, thereby taking decisive steps towards averting irreversible changes in the global climate system.
There are many non-profit organizations that are still working to achieving this goal. Here, I would like to focus the projects taken by World Bank. The World Bank is the largest external source of financing for water projects. In the last three years (FY11-13), the World Bank’s commitment for water projects totaled $17 billion, with 56% for water supply and sanitation. The World Bank is one of the largest international financiers of biodiversity conservation with a portfolio of 245 projects in 74 countries worth over $1 billion from FY2004 to 2013. In the last six years, the Bank Group has provided $19.2 billion in financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
At last I suggest some recommendations to achieve this goal. The recommendations are given in the following:
- Investing in clean energy
- Making infrastructure improvement
- Increasing access to sanitations
- Offering technical assistance
- Promoting ecosystem based solution
The more the authorized parties working together, the shorter the time needs to achieve this goal.
This article is part of the UNYANET Millennium Development Goals blog series.
Paul Bikash Chandra
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