Are We Sustainable?

As the Rio+20 conference closes, radical change remains necessary, experts tell Al Jazeera.

Renewable energy is helping in countries such as Pakistan, where power outages are common in some areas [EPA]

Hopeful rhetoric had preceded the Rio+20 UN Conference on sustainability.

World leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, NGOs, the private sector and other groups met in an attempt to find ways to reduce poverty and increase social equity while ensuring environmental protection.

But they have their work cut out for them.

Resource wars, global warming-driven extreme weather events, poverty, and the disparity between poor and rich are at all time highs and escalating.

Researchers told Al Jazeera they believe the solution lies in localising food production, transportation, and water issues. But can this be accomplished on a global level?

Say ‘no’ to oil

By way of example of one resource, water, the crisis confronting us is clear.

Nearly one-fifth of the world’s population (around 1.2bn people) live in areas of physical scarcity of water, with another half a billion people approaching this situation, according to the UN.

Meanwhile, another 1.6bn people, nearly one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortages. Current projections show that by 2025, 1.8bn people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the total global population could be living under water-stressed conditions.

By 2030, almost half the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress.

Many scientists blame the worsening water crisis on global warming, causing many experts to push for an economy not based on fossil fuels.

Read the full story at Al Jazeera English.

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