Investments Toward Sustainable Development

Investments Toward Sustainable Development - POLICY FORUM...

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19 MAY 2006 VOL 312 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org 1002 S ustainable development, meaning economic growth that is environmentally sound, is a practical necessity. Environmental goals cannot be achieved without development. Poor people will circumvent environmental restrictions in their desperation for land, food, and sustenance. Nor can development goals be achieved and sustained without sound environmental manage- ment. Environmental catastro- phes will undermine economic life, whether in New Orleans or Nigeria. Therefore, investing in poverty reduction is crucial for environmental policy, while in- vesting in the environment is vital for successful poverty reduction (see figure, right). Yet the world underinvests in both, and rich- country and poor-country governments overlook the policy links between poverty reduction and the environment. The United Nations (U.N.) Millennium Project ( 1 ) and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) ( 2 ) highlighted the centrality of environmental management for poverty reduction and general well-being. Each report emphasized the unsustainability of our current trajectory. Millions of people die each year because of their poverty and extreme vulnerabil- ity to droughts, crop failure, lack of safe drinking water, and other environmentally related ills. The desperation of the poor and heedlessness of the rich also exact a toll on future well-being in terms of habitat destruction, species extinction, and climate change. The goal of the Millennium Project ( 1 ) is to develop and to promote practical plans for achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for ending poverty, eradicating hunger, achieving universal primary education, improving health, and restoring a healthy envi- ronment. The MA, in turn, examined the conse- quences of ecosystem change for human well-
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