Maintaining a healthy planet and ensuring prosperity for all require a renewed emphasis on reducing environmental impact, sustainability and changing the way the current economic system works,
The UN has set out the broad framework for future efforts to deal with environmental problems, stressing the climate change, pollution, energy, security and global equity are all interconnected.
At the Stockholm +50 conference, convened earlier in June by the UN Environment Programme, the UN called for global government and corporations to accelerate the implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development in order to achieve a sustainable and inclusive recovery from the pandemic.
“This is the decade when things have to shift: we must bend the curves of emission, of loss of biodiversity and of all unsustainable loading of all materials caused by overproduction and consumption,” Johan Rockstrom, professor in environmental science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, told the conference.
Stockholm +50 called for placing human well-being at the centre of a healthy planet and prosperity for all, and recognising the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
The demands come as climate change, the current energy crisis, high temperatures and pressures on food supplies are threatening to create an environmental and food crisis that could cause bread riots, mass migration and agricultural disaster.
Swedish Minister for Climate and the Environment Annika Strandhäll told the conference of the need to rethink and redefine how to measure economic growth and success, align MEAs, scale up finance, work towards a political recognition of the right to a clean and healthy environment, and rebuild trust in the multilateral system.
She added that work must continue at home because national implementation is key, and expressed optimism for a decision on a global biodiversity framework, a convention on plastics pollution and advancement on climate commitments.
The conference was convened by the UNEP 50 years after the original UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972.
The conference put forward 10 key recommendations to global governments and policymakers.
The first was recognised that a healthy planet is a prerequisite for peace, cohesion and prosperous societies.
In other words, climate change now has an impact on all areas of global politics and economics, meaning that governments and companies cannot ignore climate change and must factor green issues into their decision making.
The conference calls for a strengthening of national implementation of existing commitments for a healthy planet, while also aligning public and private financial flows with environmental climate and sustainable development commitments.
Delegates also called for an acceleration of the system-wide transformations of high impact sectors, such as food, energy, water, buildings and construction, manufacturing and mobility. In other words, these are the key areas that need to become greener and more sustainable in order to combat climate change.
To achieve this, the world should reinforce and reinvigorate the multilateral system, rebuilding relationships of trust for strengthened co-operation and solidarity.
Lastly, the world must recognise intergenerational responsibility as a cornerstone of sound policymaking, suggesting that combating climate change is a decades-long task, and will be dealt with by generations that have yet to be born.
The conference also stressed that future global efforts would concentrate on the wellbeing of the economy and all that that entails for a polycentric approach to future delivery, rather than the previous focus on institutions and treaties.