Scientists issued the first "State of the Planet" declaration at a major gathering of experts on global environmental and social issues in advance of the major UN Summit Rio+20 in June.
The declaration opens: "Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the well-being of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk." It states that consensus is growing that we have driven the planet into a new epoch, the Anthropocene, where many planetary-scale processes are dominated by human activities. It concludes society must not delay taking urgent and large-scale action.
"This is a declaration to our globally interconnected society," said Dr Lidia Brito, director of science policy, natural sciences, UNESCO, and conference co-chair.
"Time is the natural resource in shortest supply. We need to change course in some fundamental way this decade," she added.
Over 3,000 experts in climate change, environmental geo-engineering, international governance, the future of the oceans and biodiversity, global trade, development, poverty alleviation, food security and more discussed the intricate connections between all the different systems and cycles governing our ocean, air, land and the human and animal life dependent on those environments.
Dr Mark Stafford Smith, Planet Under Pressure conference co-chair, said, "In the last decade we have become a highly interconnected society. We are beginning to realise this new state of humanity can be harnessed for rapid innovation."
"But we need to provide more open access to knowledge, we need to move away from GDP as the only measure of progress, and we need a new way of working internationally that is fit for the 21st century," he added. "This conference has provided new ideas and practical solutions for the way forward."
The declaration concludes that, "a highly interconnected global society has the potential to innova
|Contact: Owen Gaffney|
Earth System Science Partnership