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Global environmental outlook 5: environment for the future we want

The fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) analyses the state, trends, outlook and responses to environmental change. It assesses progress towards meeting internationally agreed goals and identifies gaps in their achievement.

The outlook examines the drivers of environmental change and the overarching socio-economic forces that exert pressure on the environment. Drivers such as population dynamics, economic demand, and unsustainable consumption and production patterns are processes that affect the environment and result, directly or indirectly, in increased emissions and destructive resource extraction. The report notes that, as pressures on the Earth System accelerate, several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded. This can lead to abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the Earth’s life support functions with significant adverse implications for human wellbeing.

According to the report, lack of reliable and consistent time series data on the state of the environment is a major barrier to increasing the effectiveness of policies and programmes. Moreover, despite evidence of continuing deterioration, many important drivers of environmental change, or their impacts, are not systematically monitored.

The report makes the following recommendations for countries:

  • monitor and assess the environment and integrate social, economic and environmental information into decision-making processes
  • standardise approaches and build capacity for data collection
  • invest in enhanced capacities and mechanisms at local, national and international levels to achieve sustainability
  • strengthen global institutions to fulfil human needs while avoiding environmental degradation
  • standardise approaches that address the underlying drivers of anthropogenic pressures on the Earth System, especially population growth and overconsumption.