In the face of an "absolutely unprecedented emergency", say the [...] past winners of the Blue Planet prize – the unofficial Nobel for the environment – society has "no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilization. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us".
Watson's comments accompanied a new paper released today by 20 past winners of the Blue Planet Prize - often called the Nobel Prize for the environment, and comes ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Rio+20 conference – which takes place in June this year – where world leaders will (it is hoped) seize the opportunity to set human development on a new, more sustainable path.
The paper urges governments to:
- Replace GDP as a measure of wealth with metrics for natural, built, human and social capital - and how they intersect.
- Eliminate subsidies in sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture that create environmental and social costs, which currently go unpaid.
- Tackle over-consumption, and address population pressure by empowering women, improving education and making contraception accessible to all.
- Transform decision making processes to empower marginalized groups, and integrate economic, social and environmental policies instead of having them compete.
- Conserve and value biodiversity and ecosystem services, and create markets for them that can form the basis of green economies.
- Invest in knowledge - both in creating and in sharing it - through research and training that will enable governments, business, and society at large to understand and move towards a sustainable future.
The thing to realize is that people can live full, healthy lives without having to increase their incomes and consumption by 3.5 to 5% per year. It's past time that we stopped poisoning our planet in the pursuit of a crude abstraction.