Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP peopleandplanet.net
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Drinking rainwater from banana leaf, Nigeria. (c) I. Uwanaka/UNEP
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global action > features

Last gasp for Planet Earth
Putting economics before ecology has a devastating effect on the planet. But while solutions for sustainable development already exist, political will is sadly missing, argues Jonathan Porritt. ... more

Securing water for people, crops, and ecosystems
by Sandra Postel

During the decade since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the world�s water problems have worsened markedly even as concern about them has risen steadily. ... more

Fixing the global water crisis needs more than taps and toilets
by Jamie Pittock

Government leaders meeting at the World Summit on Sustainable Development will take decisions that shape how water is managed over the next ten years. The conservation organisation, WWF, is concerned that Summit preparations have so far only focused on water delivery and sanitation, while ignoring the crucial issue of water supply. ... more

Growing awareness, sluggish response
By special arrangement with the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, we are pleased to publish this first in a series of Worldwatch issue briefs to be published in the weeks leading up to the World Summit. In this Gary Gardner describes key lessons learned over the past decade about selected environmental and social challenges, the goals set for addressing those challenges, and progress, if any, in achieving those goals. ... more

New paths for international tourism
by Lisa Mastny

When delegates at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit drafted their long-range blueprint for action, Agenda 21, they made little reference to the environmental and social impacts of one of the world's most rapidly growing industries � tourism. ... more

Too much talk, too little action on forests
by Janet N. Abramovitz

At the Earth Summit in Rio, forests were a major focus, and point of contention, as they have been in the years since. But despite the official attention and rhetorical commitment to forests, the last decade was marked largely by government inaction � and declining forests. During the next decade, governments must take a decidedly more active course in order to sustain the world�s remaining forests. ... more

What�s good for women is good for the world
by Danielle Nierenberg

Throughout the 1990s, several major United Nations conferences stressed the importance of including women in sustainable development. But despite these commitments on paper, there has been far too little action. True and meaningful equity between women and men will take much more than inserting a paragraph here and there in the documents issued at a United Nations convention or in national laws. ... more

Healthy oceans key to fighting poverty
by Anne Platt McGinn

Because of the importance of oceans in the global economy and climate system, we will not achieve lasting and sustainable development without healthy coasts and oceans. Well-managed, productive fisheries play a significant role in global economic development, food security, poverty alleviation, trade, and human health. But since the Earth Summit in 1992, most coastal resources have suffered from overuse and degradation. Current efforts to protect coasts and oceans will fail to achieve their full potential unless they are better integrated in the broader social development agenda that is the focus of the upcoming 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. ... more

Ecological farming � reducing hunger and meeting environmental goals
by Brian Halweil

Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, agriculture remains high on the international agenda because it brings together critical issues like water, poverty, hunger, and health. Governments, farmers, scientists, and others will gather at the World Food Summit in Rome this week to assess the progress towards eradicating hunger, and the UN Secretary General has already identified agriculture as one of the priority areas for the Johannesburg Summit in August. ... more

Reducing the use of toxic chemicals advances health and sustainable development
by Anne Platt McGinn

The 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) is one of the major achievements growing out of the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. Signatories agreed to phase out and limit production of 12 POPs, long-lived toxic chemicals that cause biological havoc as they bioaccumulate � collect and concentrate � in the food chain. The treaty outlines key principles for a less toxic world, including the prevention of new toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative chemicals; reduction of existing ones; and substitution with less dangerous materials. The challenge at Johannesburg and beyond is to further apply the principles of prevention, reduction, and substitution to all toxic chemicals. ... more

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