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UN emphasises importance of sustainability in increasingly urbanised world



The UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has identified some of the biggest challenges faced by the world as the eradication of extreme poverty and promoting sustainable consumption.

The UN World Economic & Social Survey was published on Tuesday, in which the Ban wrote, “We must acknowledge that progress has been uneven and insufficient.”

He cited the work of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), but commended the survey, which he said “translates the outcome of Rio+20 into concrete actions”.

The survey says that sustainable development has not been possible due to “rising inequalities, the food, fuel and financial crises, and the breaching of planetary boundaries”.

With a rising population, it could be difficult to balance to demands of humanity with the demands of the planet. The survey outlines the main challenge as the need “to increase food production while minimising the environmental impact and increasing natural resource use efficiency.”

The UN adds that more than 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, as opposed to 50% currently living in cities around the world. It also identifies a number of cities in Africa as places where development programmes with sustainability at their heart are evident.

This comes after Barack Obama’s calls for sustainable investment in Africa while on a visit to Tanzania on Monday. He said self-sufficiency and investment in healthcare, education and clean energy should be central to the continent’s development.

Further reading:

We need expert problem-solvers to build the cities of the future

‘Global efforts’ needed to make cities sustainable 

Green versus grey infrastructure

Obama calls for sustainable investment in Africa

Sustainable transport crucial in tackling climate change, says UN


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