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GEO-5 Summary for Policy Makers Released at UNEP Governing Council

The latest report from the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) process - the GEO-5 Summary for Policy Makers report was released 20 February. This product, specifically targeted to decision-makers, is part of the rigorous GEO-5 scientific assessment that analyzes state and trends in the global environment, options for policy action to achieve internationally agreed goals.

The report is available on-line at

The GEO-5 Summary for Policy Makers is a prelude to the full report – Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) – to be launched on and around World Environment Day in Brazil in early June – before the Rio+20 summit.

The Summary for Policy Makers, which was negotiated and endorsed by governments on 31 January 2012, warns of the continued deterioration in the state of the global environment, pointing out that internationally agreed goals have only been partially met:

  • The internationally agreed goal of avoiding the adverse effects of climate change is presenting the global community with one of its most serious challenges that is threatening overall development goals.
  • The rate of forest loss, particularly in the tropics, remains alarmingly high.
  • Today, 80 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas with high levels of threat to water security, affecting 3.4 billion people, mostly in developing countries.
  • At least 415 coastal areas have exhibited serious eutrophication and only 13 of these are recovering.
  • Up to two thirds of species are threatened with extinction. Since 1970, vertebrate populations have fallen by 30 per cent and degradation has resulted in declines of 20 per cent of some natural habitats.

The Summary for Policy Makers calls for policies that focus on the underlying drivers of environmental change (such as the negative aspects of population growth, consumption and production, urbanization) rather than just concentrating on reducing environmental pressures or symptoms.

Recommendations include:

  • The use of timely and accurate data  to inform decision-making;
  • Reversal of policies that generate unsustainable outcomes;
  • The creation of incentives to advance sustainable practices;
  • Urgent, ambitious and cooperative action by governments to meet internationally agreed goals;
  • Strengthening access to information;

The engagement of civil society, the private sector and other relevant actors in policy-making processes.

The report is available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.  GRID-Arendal contributed to the production of these reports.

Monday 20 Feb 2012
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