In today's Age an article by Dominic Waughray, head of environment initiatives at the World Economic Forum, reports some of the main points made by '700 international experts in Dubai in November to discuss the world agenda for 2009'. 'Their conclusions were startling' he says!
'we face an environmental security problem that is deeper, more fundamental, more complex and much more systemic than the financial crisis; 2008 could merely be the precursor to a perfect economic storm, the like of which we have never seen before.'
Some of the 'chilling observations' include:
'■ If present trends continue, nearly 4 billion people will live in areas of high water stress by 2030. Simply augmenting water supply is no longer possible in most places — historical approaches to water use will not work in the future.
■ The International Energy Agency predicts an expansion in world energy demand of 45% by 2030, with coal accounting for more than a third of this overall rise. The agency say these energy trends are "patently unsustainable, economically, environmentally and socially". A new energy paradigm for both developed and developing countries is urgently required.
■ The world will need to double food production in the next 40 years to meet projected demand. Our ability to meet current and future production needs is seriously challenged by increasing water scarcity, climate change, and volatile energy costs and supplies.
■ Humanitarian assistance will increase to unprecedented scale if, as commentators foresee, large-scale migration results from climate change and water scarcity. The International Red Cross estimates that there are 25 million to 50 million climate change refugees already, compared with the official refugee population of 28 million. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that 150 million environmental refugees could exist by 2020. Currently in international law there is no such thing as an environmental refugee.'One has little confidence that policy scenarios of most Governments are equipped to deal with these challenges.