UN warns world lacks food

Within the next 20 years the world's population will need 50 per cent more food and vast new reserves of energy and water, according to UN estimates. [Reuters]
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Within the next 20 years the world's population will need 50 per cent more food and vast new reserves of energy and water, according to UN estimates. [Reuters]

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UN paints bleak picture of sustainability

Created: 31/01/2012

Last Updated: Tue, 31 Jan 2012 14:15:00 +1100

A major United Nations report on sustainability has warned time is running out to ensure there is enough food, water and fuel to meet the needs of the world's rapidly growing population.

In a grim warning about the earth's increasing demand for resources, the report found demand will grow exponentially as the global population rises from 7 billion people to an expected 9 billion by 2040.

Within the next 20 years the world's population will need 50 per cent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water, according to UN estimates.

The report warns a failure to secure resources will condemn up to 3 billion people to poverty.

The report's authors have urged governments to tackle sustainable development with a greater sense of urgency and political will.

"The current global development model is unsustainable," the report reads.

"To achieve sustainability, a transformation of the global economy is required. Tinkering on the margins will not do the job. The current global economic crisis ... offers an opportunity for significant reforms."

The panel, which made 56 recommendations for sustainable development to be included in economic policy as quickly as possible.

Among the panel's recommendations, it urged governments to agree on a set of sustainable development goals which would complement the eight Millennium Development Goals to 2015 and create a framework for action after 2015.

It also recommends efforts to double productivity while reducing resource use.

Water and marine ecosystems should be managed more efficiently and there should be universal access to affordable sustainable energy by 2030, and the authors also recommend the establishment of carbon and natural resource pricing, and the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies by 2020.

The report also urged the UN to consider naming a chief scientific adviser or board to advise the organisation.

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