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Global sustainable dev worrying: UN team

12 Sep 2019, 02:00 ( 11 days ago) | updated: 12 Sep 2019, 17:59 ( 11 days ago)

DF Report
Research Professor Eeva Furman. photo SYKE/Kai Widell.

An Independent Group of Scientists appointed by the UN has assessed the state of global sustainable development as worrying.

Although positive developments can be found in the world, certain issues may prevent further progress, said a press release of Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE).

The Independent Group of Scientists has identified six key issues and the means necessary to improve the direction. The Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 has been published on Wednesday in New York.

 The Finnish Expert Panel on Sustainable Development is preparing a proposal for further national actions. The Independent Group of Scientists comprises Professor Eeva Furman from the Finnish Environment Institute.

“Inequality, climate change, biodiversity loss and the growing waste problem are four significant reasons why global development does not progress towards a sustainable direction as a whole,” said Research Professor Eeva Furman.

In addition to these phenomena, the Independent Group of Scientists has identified six crucial areas in which action can steer the change into a more sustainable direction. It is essential to promote human well-being and opportunities for action, build a sustainable and fair economy, create sustainable food systems, support healthy food habits, ensure the supply of sustainable energy for all, develop the sustainability of cities and periurban areas, and secure global commons.

‘System-level changes are needed and means must be used consistently. When selecting measures, four different levers must be applied simultaneously to support each other. Sustainable political choices and economic solutions need to be made. Activities undertaken both by individuals and communities need to be supported. In addition, science and technology must be utilised,’ said Furman, adding, ‘Changes should be promoted by considering the special features of each area and by tailoring the combinations of means accordingly.’

According to the Group of Scientists, the role of sustainability science must be strengthened when setting targets and making decisions. Especially in developing countries, the entire value chain of research must be strengthened and access to scientific networks and material must be ensured.

‘In developed countries, it might not be necessary to increase the amount of research, but to invest more in solution-centred sustainability science that recognises the diversity of challenges for sustainable development and seeks solutions together with various actors. This is currently not the case, as the majority of global research and development work in the private sector targets relatively narrow needs,’ Furman added.

Finland could become a pioneer in sustainable development

The Finnish Expert Panel on Sustainable Development has launched a project in which it assesses Finland’s role and opportunities to make sustainable development more efficient. Like other wealthy countries, Finland is placing a burden on the environment and thus bears responsibility for the progress of climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the generation of waste. According to the panel, however, in many respects Finland operates in accordance with the principles of sustainable development, and several actions mentioned in the report have already been launched in Finland. For example, the current government programme has been built on the basis of sustainable development, and the state budget is monitored from the perspective of sustainable development. The assessment of the Finnish Expert Panel on Sustainable Development regarding Finland’s situation and need for change will be completed in early 2020.