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The fourth report in the Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) provides a comprehensive, scientifically credible, policy-relevant and up-to-date assessment of, and outlook for, the state of the global environment. GEO-4 is published 20 years after the landmark World Commission on Environment and Development report - Our Common Future - which popularized sustainable development.
Geo-4 provides an overviewof the global and regional environmental, social and economic state-and-trends over the past 2 decades. It highlights the linkages, challenges and opportunities which the environment provides for development and human well-being. The report also presents an outlook, using four scenarios to explore plausible futures to the year 2050, as well as policy options to address present and emerging environmental issues.
Geo-4 demonstrates that the environment is essential for improving and sustaining human well-being. It also shows that environmental degradation is diminishing the potential for sustainable development, and highlights potential environment development pathways.
It argues that despite changes in environmental governance, and greater understanding of the links between environment and development, progress towards sustainable development has been slow. There is a need to strengthen the link between environment and development in decision making.
The assessment emphasizes that choices made today will determine how environmental threats will unfold in the future. Reversing such adverse environmental trends will be an immense challenge. Geo-4 concludes that the need to respond to the environmental challenges could not be more urgent and the time could not be more opportune, with our enhanced understanding of the challenges we face, to act now to safeguard our own survival and that of future generations.