Worldwatch report highlights signs of progress towards sustainability

The Worldwatch Institute just released its State of the World 2003 report, which indicates that recent technological and social changes provide grounds for optimism about the world’s capacity to respond to environmental threats.

On 9 January, the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based think-tank, released a surprisingly optimistic State of the World 2003 report, which highlights three areas of progress towards sustainability:

  • The use of solar energy and wind power have grown by more than 30 percent annually over the past five years (compared to 1-2 percent annual growth for fossil fuels) in countries such as Germany, Japan, and Spain thanks to policies that have encouraged their use;
  • A concerted global effort to reduce the use of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has led to an 81 percent decline in production during the 1990s, and a marked slowing in the growth of the Antarctic ozone hole, which is expected to begin healing soon;
  • The World Health Organization’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative has reduced polio cases globally from some 350,000 in 1988 to 480 in 2001.

The report also points out serious global threats still undermining societies and ecosystems around the world (Malaria, bird extinctions, polluted food, air, and water, growing global rate of ice melt).

According to the report, it seems more likely that sustainable economic growth will emerge from the combined efforts of businesses, citizens’ groups, and local governments than via consensus-based global agreements.

 

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