Unfulfilled 3rd Millennium Development Goals (8)
In this episode, we speak of the rate of materialization of the 7th ideal of the Millennium Development Plan which is to secure the sustainability of the environment.
One of the major problems which mankind currently faces is the environmental crisis and a rise in his demands from nature. Mankind’s impact on the environment has taken place with a swift pace as of the year 1750 AD, concurrent with industrial development. The ever-increasing efforts of the industrial countries for advancement of their economic status, and the plans of many countries for development set the stage for imposition of further blows against the environment. On the other hand, absence of global resolve for countering this trend caused many environmental concerns such as water pollution; erosion resulting from acid rain; desertification; deforestation; climatic changes; and global warming.
Under these conditions, air pollution mounted in major cities. Chemicals produced by factories were dumped across many coastlines, and more importantly, the issue of burial and eradication of atomic wastes was considered as an insurmountable problem. Both, North and South countries faced environmental concerns. Under these conditions, and especially in the recent decades, countries faced a complicated situation. This was because on one hand they were forced to use technological products in order to continue their existence, and, on the other hand, usage of these products further polluted the global environment, day by day.
In the year 1972, the United Nations, in response to global concerns over the environment, held a gathering in Sweden’s Capital, Stockholm, on the threats posed toward mankind’s living environment. In this round of meetings, topics such as inclination to take collective measures for protection of Earth’s ecology; responsibility of countries in regard to pollutions beyond their borders; and independence and sovereignty of countries on their national sources, and their rights in relation to development were discussed. Also, the UN Conference on Environment and Development, informally known as the Earth Summit, was held in Brazil’s Capital, Rio de Janeiro, in the early months of the year 1992, discussing the destruction of ozone layer and climate change.
In continuation of this trend, in the year 2000 AD, the UN General Assembly bore witness to preparation and approval of the Millennium Declaration within the biggest gathering of the heads of state. Based on this declaration, the heads of 189 countries placed the fulfillment of eight goals on their agenda till the year 2015; the ideals which provided answers for all of the main global challenges. One of the ideals which were accepted by all heads of state was securing the sustainability of the environment. Attainment of this ideal is a must for fulfillment of all of the goals of Millennium Development Plan. On this basis, heads of state pledged to make every effort to protect the environment; to include all of the principles of sustainable development in the policies and plans of their countries; and to prevent the destruction of natural sources. This ideal maintained specific and distinguished aims. Prevention of wastage of natural sources; focus on the problem of reduction of fishery products in the world, focus on soil erosion, climatic change, and the reduction of greenhouse gases, all of which are the most important factors in development of countries, were part of these agreed goals. Also plans were made to reduce the number of people, who have no access to healthy drinking water. Moreover, improvement of the lives of at least a hundred million residents of shantytowns was set as another major goal.
Although in the year 2000 many countries vowed commitment to the principles of sustainable development; the existing evidences show this development has not led to appropriate and sufficient progress for reversal of the destruction of natural sources and global environment. For instance, although the rate of access to healthy drinking water has improved, still half of the developing countries lack access to primary hygienic facilities and means. Although migration to cities has declined the pressure piled up on rural lands; the number of residents of populous and unsafe shantytowns has surged. Now, roughly one billion people live in the slums around cities, worldwide. This is because the pace of growth of urban population exceeds the pace of improvement of the existing accommodations, and access to constructive jobs. In accordance to announced reports, the flora and fauna species are eradicating in an unprecedented manner. The climate is changing, and dangers such as elevation of sea levels, droughts, and flashfloods also threaten man’s life. Furthermore, fishery products and other marine sources are used and consumed excessively.
The most important environmental concern which is climate change has left its destructive impacts in recent years. Decline in rainfall has caused several droughts and shortage of water. The shortage of water in the year 2014 was to the extent that the World Economic Forum announced the threat posed by shortage of water as the third major global risk for mankind.
The Senior Staff Writer of Foreign Policy Magazine, Shane Harris, in one of his articles, has named climate change and shortage of water as the future crises of different nations. He pointed out that the concern which will lead to mounting tensions among governments in the near future is the climatic changes that may also cause the break out of new wars. According to Harris, in the next four years, shortage of water and intense rivalry for provision of food and energy will stir major problems for heads of state, while many governments will also face challenges such as spread of infectious diseases, resulting from climate change and shortage of food. Environmentalists have also announced that more than half of the global lands which had previously experienced high rates of rainfalls have been destroyed, and climate change across the globe has ultimately led to intense shortage of water.
In this manner, the 7th goal of the Millennium Development Plan is yet to be achieved. The sustainability of the environment is tied to prudent usage and consumption of natural resources, and protection of the complicated ecosystems, which mankind’s existence depends upon. However, sustainability will not materialize with the current models of consumption and usage of sources. For accomplishment of this goal, further attention should be paid to the appalling conditions of poor countries, whose daily livelihood is directly or indirectly tied to their surrounding natural sources, and global cooperation. In fact, many of the environmental problems which the international community is currently grappling with are rooted in the other goals of the Millennium Development Plan, which should uniformly be pursued and implemented by the international community. For instance, the root cause of many environmental problems, especially in developing countries, is poverty. This is because poverty leads to destruction of the environment, and destruction of environment, in turn, causes further poverty. This vicious circle can ultimately lead to economic and social collapse and the destruction of the environment.
On this basis, the approaches and models of production and consumption of natural sources should change and should be pushed to serve the goals and ideals of sustainable development. Meanwhile, the developing countries should make further efforts to use their sources in the best possible manner, in line with the goals of sustainable development.