Chapter Five: Outlook and Recommendations
- Outlook for the 21st century
… and continued successes
This record of planetary negligence must be tempered, however, by a series of remarkable achievements, many of which would have been unthinkable even two decades ago. These gains promise major benefits for the future. Examples include:
- The increase in public concern over environmental issues. Until recently, few individuals cared about or even knew of the environmental issues facing the planet. Today, popular movements in many countries are forcing authorities to make changes.
- Voluntary action taken by many of the world's major industries to reduce resource use and eliminate waste. The fact that these actions are in industry's own economic self-interest does not detract from their environmental significance. On the contrary, the happy discovery that what is good for the environment can also be good for business may do much to reverse trends for which industry itself was originally largely responsible. This 'win-win' situation bodes well for the planet.
- Remarkable successes by governments in developed regions in reducing levels of air pollution in many major cities. Innovative legislation has been introduced, and the goal of zero emissions in several important areas is no longer considered utopian.
- The halt and reversal of deforestation in parts of both Europe and the North America. In other regions, eco-certification of forest products is on the increase.
- Local Agenda 21 initiatives, which have proved an effective way of developing and implementing sustainable development policies that involve communities and political agencies alike.
At the international level:
- The ozone layer is now expected to have largely recovered within half a century as a result of the Montreal Protocol. While most other environmental problems are not as straightforward, the fact that the international community is well on the way to resolving one major issue should certainly give the critics of international organizations pause for thought.
- Since 1992, the first international steps - the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol - have been taken to tackle the issue of global climate change. In addition, the world's scientists, meteorologists and climatologists are gaining major new insights into climate variation. Prediction of climatic variations of all kinds, human induced or not, are likely to become a regular feature of life in the 21st century.