Towards sustainability

The Global Environment Facility has released a detailed examination of five key challenges for coming decades.

The Challenge of Sustainability discusses five critical issues: the degradation of marine and freshwater resources; food production; forests; energy development; and new financial resources and mechanisms. An overview of each issue, supported by statistics and case studies, is followed by examples of promising strategies and an agenda for action.

In his foreword, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presents the stark choice the world faces.

  • A world in which economic and social needs are balanced with the capacity of the earth’s resources and ecosystems – or a world impoverished by environmental degradation, where poverty and hunger still afflict a billion or more people.
  • A world that properly values water and manages it sustainably – or one that faces widespread water scarcity.
  • A world making the transition to renewable energy sources – or one still dependent on fossil fuels, and where climate change is destabilizing many nations.
  • A world in which preventable diseases have been largely eliminated – or one in which millions of children continue to die annually because they don’t have access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation.
  • A world of responsible consumption and production patterns – or one still inundated by waste and poisoned by hazardous materials.
  • A world where rich-country markets are fully open to labour-intensive products from poor countries, and where trade is making significant inroads against poverty – or a world that remains deeply divided between rich and poor.

Further information
GEF Secretariat, Global Environment Facility, 1818 H Street NW, Washington DC 20433, USA. Fax: +1-202-473-0508. Email:
The report is available at publications.html or can be obtained at no charge from the GEF Secretariat at the address above.