Sustainable Development: the facts

Today 20 % of the world’s population consume 80% of the world’s resources, and create 83% of the world’s waste. And the remaining 20% often dream of living like us. This is of course unsustainable in the long term.

In the past years the concept of Sustainable Development has become increasingly well known to the public and mentalities have started to change. However progress has been very slow compared to the urgency of action needed to prevent a global catastrophe.

Numbers that say it all:

– Per capita water consumption, including agriculture and industry: 1300 gallons per day in the US, 360 in France, 26 in Africa.

– Water needed to produce a fast food meal: 1400 gallons (mostly the beef). Meat consumption per person per year: 250 pounds in the US, 5 in India.

– CO2 emissions per capita: 55 tons of CO2 per year in Qatar, 19 tons in the US, 6 tons in France, 0.1 tons in poorer countries.

– One acre of rainforest can sequester 120-150 tons of CO2. 50 million acres of forests (almost half the size of France) are cut around the world each year.

– Average per capita electricity consumption, in kilowatts per year: 37000 in Iceland, 13600 in the US, 7500 in France, 40 in Ethiopia. Two billion people around the world do not have access to electricity.

– The US consumes 25% of all fossil fuels burned in the world.

– Since 1970, there are 40% fewer living creatures on Earth. 25% of creatures could go extinct due to climate change by 2100.

If people in Southern countries lived the way we do in the North, we would need FIVE planets! It is therefore essential to educate children on environmental issues as early as possible.

Sources: World Watch Institute, United Nations Development Program, Our Ecological Footprint, State of the World’s Children (Unicef).

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