Chapter Four: Future Perspectives
The importance of the future
Issues for the 21st century
Pointers for the 21st century
The alternative policy studies
| KEY FACTS|
The key environmental issues in the 21st century may result from unforeseen events and scientific discoveries, sudden, unexpected transformations of old issues, and well-known issues that currently do not receive enough policy attention.
A survey of emerging issues carried out among scientists for GEO-2000 cited pollution and scarcity of water resources (57 per cent) and climate change (51 per cent) as major issues. Then came deforestation/ desertification (28 per cent) and problems arising from poor governance at national and international levels (27 per cent).
The survey identified six issues cited with similar frequency by respondents from all regions: freshwater scarcity, environmental pollution (mainly chemical), invasive species, reduction in human immunity and resistance to disease, fisheries collapse and food insecurity.
The region-specific alternative policy studies carried out for GEO-2000 show that:
Business-as-usual will not lead to sustainability.
There is a clear need for integrated policies.
Market-based incentives, particularly subsidy reforms, are important in all regions.
Environmental institutions in most regions are weak and plagued with limited mandates and power, small financial resources and few human resources.
A main obstacle to successful policy implementation is the low priority generally afforded to the environment.