Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability

The first target under this goal is to integrate the policies of sustainable development into the policies and programs of countries and to reverse the loss of environmental resources. As part of the measurement of this goal, the proportion of land area covered by forests is measured. Forests continue to shrink, especially in Africa and South America. A major reason for this is to clear land for agricultural production to feed the world’s increasing population. The emission of greenhouse gases is also tracked. Despite slowing slightly during the global financial crisis, they are now increasing again and have increased 46% since 1990. The second target under this goal, added in 2007, is to reduce biodiversity loss, achieving by 2010 a significant reduction in the rate of loss. While the percentage of protected areas is increasing, the loss of biodiversity continues. Overfishing continues and fishing yields have suffered. More species are headed for extinction.

Third is to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Globally, the target for access to water was met in 2010, 5 years ahead of schedule. However, neither sub-Saharan Africa nor Oceania is expected to meet the goal. It is possible for the goal for access to sanitation to be met, but it requires a major push, especially in the reduction of open defecation (people who have no access to any type of facility). As with the previous goals, those living in rural areas and/or in poverty are less likely to have access to clean water or basic sanitation.

The last target under this goal is to achieve a “significant improvement” in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. While the achievement of this goal was in doubt in the first edition of this text, it has been achieved ahead of schedule. As of 2013, 200 million slum dwellers improved their lives through access to clean water, basic sanitation, and/or durable housing. The largest gains were made in Southern, Southeastern, and Eastern Asia. However, the numbers of slum dwellers continues to grow due in large part to rapid urbanization.

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