Mikhail S. Gorbachev, Chairman, Green Cross International
Worldwatch, State of the World 2005. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005
Five years ago, all 191 United Nations member states pledged to meet eight Millennium
Development Goals by 2015, including eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and ensuring
These critical challenges were reaffirmed by health officials from
across the globe in October 2004 at the tenth anniversary of the landmark International
Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo.
The overarching conclusion from this 2004 meeting was that while considerable, albeit erratic,
progress was indeed being made in many areas, any optimism must be tempered with the
realization that gains in overall global socioeconomic development, security, and sustainability
do not reflect the reality on the ground in many parts of the world.
Poverty continues to
undermine progress in many areas.
Diseases such as HIV/AIDS are on the rise, creating public
health time bombs in numerous countries.
In the last five years, some 20 million children have
died of preventable waterborne diseases, and hundreds of millions of people continue to live with
the daily misery and squalor associated with the lack of clean drinking water and adequate
We must recognize these shameful global disparities and begin to address them seriously.
delighted that the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Wangari Maathai, a woman whose
personal efforts, leadership, and practical community work in Kenya and Africa inspire us all by
demonstrating the real progress that can be made in addressing environmental security and
sustainable development challenges where people have the courage to make a difference.
Humankind has a unique opportunity to make the twenty-first century one of peace and security.
Yet the many possibilities opened up to us by the end of the cold war appear to have been
partially squandered already.
Where has the “peace dividend” gone that we worked so hard for?
Why have regional conflict and terrorism become so dominant in today’s world?
And why have
we not made more progress on the Millennium Development Goals?
The terrible tragedies of September 11, 2001, the 2004 terrorist attacks in Beslan in Russia, and
the many other terrorist incidents over the past decade in Japan, Indonesia, the Middle East,
Europe, and elsewhere have all driven home the fact that we are not adequately prepared to deal
with new threats.
But better preparation means thinking more holistically, not just in traditional
cold war terms.
I believe that today the world faces three interrelated challenges:
the challenge of security,
including the risks associated with weapons of mass destruction and terrorism; the challenge of
poverty and underdevelopment; and the challenge of environmental sustainability.
The challenge of security must be addressed by first securing and destroying the world’s arsenals