Environment, Poverty and Social Development
The UN Secretary-General has recently expressed the view that many ills that confront this earth, such as wars, diseases, famines and environmental insecurity, have their root causes in poverty.
The consequences of not dealing with the glaring inequality between rich and poor were also spelled out in an article for the UNEP magazine Our Planet by the United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Sustainable development, he said, is “a security imperative”. Poverty, environmental degradation and the despair that they breed are “destroyers of people, of societies, of nations.” They provide the ingredients for the destabilization of countries, even entire regions.
Since the 1992 Rio Earth Summit the number of people living in absolute poverty, particularly in developing countries has increased. According to the 2003 UN Human Development Report, there are 900 million people living in absolute poverty in rural areas. The trends are not much better in the cities, where 1 billion people live in slums. More than 1 billion people lack access to clean water supplies and more than 2 billion people worldwide lack access to adequate sanitation.