State of the World 2002

Special World Summit Edition

Posted: 24 April 2002

Author: Worldwatch Institute/W W Norton, $15.95. ISBN: 0393322793

This special edition of State of the World focuses on issues central to the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in August/September 2002.

The Summit provides world's leaders a historic chance to strike a new deal for an economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable world-a chance they cannot afford to miss.

In the book's Foreword, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan notes that "all of us should understand not only that we face common threats, but also that there are common opportunities to be seized if we respond to this challenge as a single human community."

The report highlights a number of social and environmental advances since Rio, including declining deaths from pneumonia, diarrhoea, and tuberculosis and the phasing out of production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in industrial countries.

But many other important trends continue to worsen. Deaths from AIDS increased more than six-fold over the 1990s; global emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide climbed more than nine per cent; and 27 per cent of the world's coral reefs are now severely damaged, up from 10 per cent at the time of the Rio Earth Summit.

The authors of State of the World 2002 lay out the technical and political changes needed to forge a sustainable economy. "Getting the world onto a more environmentally and socially durable course is a daunting task," says State of the World 2002 Project Director Hilary French. "But history shows that cooperation can overcome even seemingly intractable obstacles. Johannesburg will help to determine whether the nations of the world can jointly address pressing problems, or whether we will remain on a destructive path that leads to poverty, environmental decline, terrorism, and war."