Reduction of poverty through development and equitable distribution of resources
Poverty reduction and sustainable development are closely interlinked. The ecological modernisation of the economy requires investments in research, infrastructure and new technologies. Very few developing countries can raise the necessary funds themselves. For poor countries to be able to follow a development path that is less resource intensive and to implement the green economy, it is necessary for industrialised, emerging and developing countries, as well as multilateral institutions, to work together.
The problem of resource scarcity
According to UNEP, 40% of agricultural land has been degraded. In various regions of the world there is an increasing scarcity of drinking water. Plant and animal genetic resources are dwindling. The effects of climate change are felt particularly in developing countries, which have few financial and institutional resources to adapt to changing environmental conditions. Rural populations, especially in Africa, are the most affected. As a consequence, scarce resources are used more intensively, tropical forests are cut down and fertile lands are overgrazed. Investors increasingly buy up fertile land, and the competition for resources exacerbates local conflicts, triggering migratory movements.
The necessity of equitable distribution
Global sustainable development requires striking a fair and rules-based balance between the interests of rich and poor countries. On the one hand, all countries must be afforded equal access to vital resources. On the other hand, the interests of future generations must be protected. Binding international agreements and a fair sharing of costs are essential in this context.
Right to development
Emerging and developing countries have an enormous amount of catching up to do and need a growing share of natural resources. Their right to development is beyond dispute. But if they follow the CO2-intensive development path of western industrialised countries, there is a risk of a global environmental collapse. To prevent such a collapse, wealthy countries have to massively reduce their consumption of resources and emerging countries have to achieve more resource-efficient growth. We need a green economy capable of meeting the basic needs of the world's rapidly growing population without destroying the planet's natural resources at the same time.