Threats and Opportunities

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Creating sustainable futures depends on making change happen by concentrating on the opportunities and reducing the threats

"The future of our planet is in the balance. Sustainable development can be achieved, but only if irreversible degradation of the environment can be halted. The next 30 years may be crucial."

Joint statement by The Royal Society and the United States National Academy of Sciences, 1992.

In addition to the threats there are many opportunities to find new solutions that contribute to sustainable futures.

Threats to the global community include:


Opportunities arise from tackling economic, social and ethical development together. With imagination, creativity and perseverance many solutions can be and are being found:

NB The Worldwatch Institute's annual publications State of the World and Vital Signs provide regularly updated, useful sources of information and are available in many languages. In the USA both books are published by W. W. W. Norton. Which World? by Allen Hammond, published by Earthscan, March 1999, explores three scenarios: Market World, Fortress World and Transformation World and is based on five years research in a collaborative project involving the Brookings Institute, the Sante Fe Institute and the World Resources Institute. It is an excellent, very readable book that leaves the reader to decide which scenario makes best sense. See also the latest report from the United Nations Environment Programme,   which has an impressive, up-to-date summary of the state of the world including regional summaries.

These threats and opportunities form the basis for applying sustainable development:

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Last modified 24 November 1999