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Christian Friis Bach

Bach's Blog

The Executive Secretary's Blog

Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.

Our well-being depends on the well-being of our planet, so we need to protect it. That is why today, on World Environment Day, together with many others, I am raising my voice again. We are 7 billion people today, and even though we know that we will be 9 billion by 2050, we are already consuming far more natural resources than the planet can sustainably provide. We may have already crossed some of the planetary boundaries.

The pan-European region – from USA and Canada to Russia and Kazakhstan – has a particular responsibility. This region consumes a large share natural resources and energy.  It represents about half of the carbon emissions coming from inland transport and domestic aviation in the world. However, the region is also a leader in reducing energy intensity, in increasing the share of renewables, expanding forest areas and managing forests sustainably and in cutting down transport-related pollution.

Reducing environmental pressure is not only good for the planet but also helps countries create sustainable growth. It is increasingly recognized that the transition towards a green economy can create both growth and jobs. We can move towards a fascinating and innovative circular economy were waste is reduced to a minimum and products circulated back into new production.

However, it requires innovation as well as new consumption and production patterns. It demands significant change in behaviour from consumers, companies and countries.

UNECE already provides a number of tools and solutions to assist countries in doing this. For example, we assist in using common goods, such as air and water, sustainably. We enable public participation and access to environmental information as well as informed decision-making, facilitate environmental impact assessments of potentially harmful activities and assist countries in preparing for, and responding to industrial accidents, if they occur. In assessing countries’ efforts to reduce pollution and manage their natural resources, we assist in improving their environmental performance. UNECE also provides a forum for countries to share experiences and best practices in the field of energy efficiency, gives advice to address common housing and land management problems, promotes the connection between transport, health and the environment, and monitors the state of forests in the region to help in developing evidence-based policies for sustainable forest management.

But we need to do much more, so that future generations can access the same resources we enjoy today. And with still more citizens, we need to do more with less. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us and we can all make a difference, by reducing our use of water and energy, by recycling more materials, by buying sustainable products, by using public transport or biking to work. Consume with care!

 


If you wonder why the animal accompanying my blog is a cow, it is because cows are fascinating animals; the cows of our host country, Switzerland, are famous for their quality; and because I am still a farmer, and miss the cows I had in Denmark. Now I got one back.