Humans are inextricably linked to the environmental landscape within which our daily lives unfold. We depend completely on nature for essential, life-sustaining services – clean air and water, a stable climate, food – yet our activities are having an increasingly dramatic and detrimental effect on wildlife and ecosystems, putting not just wild species but also our own survival at risk.
The inconvenient truth is that we are meeting our short-term needs largely at the expense of the planet, and it is people – particularly those who are most vulnerable or who have no say in decisions about how natural resources are being used (including future generations) – who will suffer most.
One of the biggest challenges of the 21st century is to ensure that development and growth is achieved without environmental degradation, enriching people’s everyday lives without impoverishing the natural world. This may entail some difficult decisions, on the part of governments and individuals, about how we value success and define growth.