Fwd: World Resources Report

Jura Folks (ecology@chaos.apana.org.au)
Tue, 07 May 1996 14:48:54 +1000

I don't agree with their conclusions, but some of the facts are jolly scary
--- I wonder how much is true, or if they're angling for some sort of
"solution" that anarchists would hate ... regards, dizzie

-------fwd msg----

Contact: Shirley Geer (WRI) at 202/662-2542
Jim Sniffen (UNEP) at 212-963-8094, e-mail: sniffenj@un.org


New Report Documents World Urbanization Trends and Impacts

A new report from the World Resources Institute (WRI), the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank finds that
urbanization is reshaping the physical and social environment, as
it fuels economic growth and spurs environmental degradation.

Urbanization is one of the critical global trends shaping the
future, according to "World Resources 1996-97". Measuring
everything from urban expansion to energy consumption to declining
fish stocks, the report uses projections based on scientific
studies, scenarios and quantitative models to document future
environmental challenges, including those caused by massive and
rapid urbanization. The report identifies some positive trends,
but also finds that greater environmental challenges lie ahead
unless the human race charts a new course.

"Taken one by one, these trends extending into the future appear
manageable. But when you put them all together, they pose a
potentially serious hurdle to the aspirations of all nations for a
better quality of life and for the preservation of natural
resources and environmental assets", said Maurice Strong, chairman
of the World Resources Institute Board.

"While some trends are positive, the rate and pace of change,
especially in the world's cities, mean that humankind could have
more impact on Earth's biological, geological and chemical systems
during our lifetime and our children's than all preceding human
generations together had", Strong said.

Consider these startling trends and realities:

FUTURE TREND: By 2025, world population is expected to reach 8.3
billion, a 50 percent increase over the present. Africa's
population is expected to double, Latin America's to grow nearly 50
percent, and Asia's to grow 40 percent during that period.

CURRENT REALITY: Fertility rates in most developing countries are
declining, but must fall much further if even the mid-range
population growth projection (8.3 billion) is not to be exceeded.

FUTURE TREND: By 2025, 2/3 of the world's people will live in

CURRENT REALITY: Only one third of the world's population was urban
35 years ago. More than 150,000 people are being added to urban
populations in developing countries every day.

FUTURE TREND: By 2015, the world will have 33 "megacities" with
populations over 8 million and more than 500 cities with
populations of 1 million or more.

CURRENT REALITY: Greater Tokyo already has 27 million people, Sao
Paulo, Brazil, 16.4 million; and Bombay, India, 15 million.

FUTURE TREND: In coming decades, most of the world's poor will be
urban, living under conditions that can be worse than those of the
rural poor.

CURRENT REALITY: Between 1970 and 1990, the number of urban poor
in Latin America alone increased from 44 to 115 million.

FUTURE TREND: By 2000, the physical size of cities in developing
countries is expected to be double what it was in 1980, exerting
phenomenal stress on local environments.

CURRENT REALITY: More than 40 percent of all cities with a
population of 500,000 or more are in tidal estuaries or on the open
coast. Half of the world's coastlines and coastal ecosystems are
already at risk from development.

FUTURE TREND: By 2020, energy use will increase by 50 to 100
percent. Emissions of greenhouse gases that contribute to the risk
of climate change will increase by 45 to 90 percent.

CURRENT REALITY: In the past 20 years, global energy use has
grown nearly 50 percent. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change has concluded that greenhouse gas emissions have led to a
"discernible human influence on global climate."

FUTURE TREND: By 2010, the number of motor vehicles could grow to
more than 800 million, exacerbating urban air pollution especially
in rapidly industrializing countries.

CURRENT REALITY: In Bangkok, 300-400 more vehicles are added to
traffic jams daily. In the United States, the number of miles
driven in motor vehicles climbed 40 percent, largely offsetting
increases in vehicle efficiency.

FUTURE TREND: World food production is expected to keep up with
population growth, but many people will still go hungry. By 2010,
the number of Africans who suffer from malnutrition is expected to
increase 70 percent to 300 million.

CURRENT REALITY: Nearly one billion people get most of their
protein from fish. Overfishing has already depleted more than
one-fourth of the world's marine fish stocks.

FUTURE TREND: By 2050, as many as 2.4 billion people could live in
countries facing water scarcity. This is nearly 1/5 of the world's
projected population.

CURRENT REALITY: Withdrawals of fresh water from rivers and lakes
have quadrupled in the last 50 years. In 1994, at least 220 million
urban dwellers lacked steady access to safe drinking water. Fully
90 percent of sewage in developing countries goes untreated.

"World Resources 1996-97" will be an official source book for the
United Nations Habitat II Conference slated for June 3-14, 1996, in
Istanbul, Turkey. The report highlights many innovative and
effective approaches to environmental management undertaken by
cities and communities around the world. It identifies lessons
from these initiatives for example, if local and national
governments, non-governmental organizations, communities, business,
international donors, and other external support agencies share
responsibility, they have a better chance of solving urban
environmental problems.

Cities can serve as centres of employment, growth and innovation,
the report emphasizes. Improving the urban environment and quality
of life requires action on a number of fronts, including
alleviating poverty, creating productive employment, improving
resource management, increasing women's participation and building
capacity for urban governance and management. The report offers
case studies and examples providing and maintaining urban
infrastructure in the low-income settlements; promoting
income-generating activities for disadvantaged groups;
and upgrading waste management, energy use and alternative
transport systems. These actions are often promoted jointly by
UNDP, UNEP, the World Bank and other partners within and
outside the UN system.

"World Resources 1996-97" reflects the World Resources Institute's
ongoing collaboration with UNEP and UNDP, as well as a new
partnership with the World Bank. Published in seven
languages, the report is distributed worldwide. The 1996-97
edition published 10 years after the first of this series of
reports contains more than 150 tables, charts, maps, and figures
with essential environmental and natural resource data for nearly
every country in the world.


PLEASE NOTE: Copies of "World Resources 1996-97" can be obtained
for $24.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling from World Resources
Institute Publications, P.O. Box 4852, Hampden Station, Baltimore,
MD 21211, USA. Tel: 1-800-822-0504, 1-410-516-6963, fax: 1-410-516-6998.