The conclusion of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment is that we can only reverse the degradation of ecosystems by changing the way we manage our economies. Action can still be taken but the changes required are large and are at present not happening. The report calls for:
• Better governance, including better integration between environmental, economic and social policy and greater involvement of the people most concerned;
• Financial carrots and sticks, including ending subsidies which encourage excessive use of ecosystems and introducing taxes and payments that manage the environmental pressure;
• Changes in behaviour, including changes in consumption, education and the empowerment of directly affected communities;
• New technology, including cleverer farming and ecosystem restoration;
• Wider intelligence-gathering, including building non-market values into decision-making and harnessing traditional knowledge.
Just some of the many campaigning organizations whose environmental activism has a strong human rights and social justice slant. Most organizations listed here are engaged in international activities.
Centre for Science and the Environment
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi-110062, INDIA
tel: +91 11 299 55124
Earth Rights International
1612 K St NW, Ste 401, Washington, DC 20006, US
tel: +1 202 466 5188
Friends of the Earth International
PO Box 19199, 1000 GD Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS
tel: +31 20 622 1369
Ottho Heldringstraat 5, 1066 AZ Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS
tel: +31 20 718 2000
International Rivers Network
1847 Berkeley Way, Berkeley, CA 94703, US
tel: +1 510 848 1155
Casilla 17-15-24-C, Quito, ECUADOR
225 Brunswick Ave, Toronto ON, M5S 2M6, CANADA
tel: +1 416 964 9223
1611 Telegraph Ave, Ste 702, Oakland, CA 94612, US
tel: +1 510 271 8081
World Rainforest Movement
Maldonado 1858, 11200 Montevideo, URUGUAY
tel: +598 2 413 2989
1776 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036-1904, US
tel: +1 202 452 1999
Animal protection, Xanten, Germany Young geese from Sweden being guided to the Lower Rhine, Germany, where they will spend the winter. Protecting animals and safeguarding habitats are two key elements of a sustainable world. Photo: Ruediger Fessel / UNEP / Still Pictures
Photo: Ruediger Fessel / UNEP / Still Pictures
Woman with tree seedling, Kenya The Green Belt Movement in Kenya encourages women to plant tree seedlings to avert desertification, and also to grow indigenous drought-resistant food crops such as millet.
Photo: William Campbell / Still Pictures
Girl and windmill Wind power is the fastest-growing energy source as concern about climate change coincides with falling costs and favourable government policies. In 2002, it provided enough domestic electricity for 35 million people.
Photo: Olivia Droeshaut / REP / Still Pictures
Children in polluted river, Colombia By the late 1990s, the river water in Eastern Antioquia, Colombia, was like a cesspool. Cement factories turned it yellow; textile and paper plants made it run blue: it was frothing with chemicals. Environmental authorities tried to clamp down but companies looked for loopholes and greased palms to avoid penalties and stay in business. So instead they used both carrot and stick, applying steadily rising fines to polluters but reducing charges for those that cut their emissions. Some firms began to clean up their act, and one of the largest textile companies announced plans to build a $3million treatment plant that would recycle the two tonnes of dyes and glues that it had been dumping daily into the region’s principal river. The municipal authorities, which were also hit by the charges, put up six new water-treatment facilities. By 2000 organic waste had dropped by 36 per cent. It is at least a start.
Photo: German Castro / Panos
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