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Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

How to Ensure Environmental Sustainability?

By Rolf Rosenkranz

Environmental degradation has the potential to undo much of the good work done by aid workers around the globe. And as threats to our environment increasingly pressure our growing world population, development professionals of all stripes are working hard on solutions.

The United Nations recognized the economic value of thriving ecosystems in its 2004 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a landmark review of products and services such as clean drinking water and the decomposition of waste. Many aid initiatives, such as the Millennium Villages Project, have declared environmental sustainability a key component of rural development. Others are leveraging international capital markets and local micro-enterprises to promote environmental sustainability.

These are complex issues. Many ecosystem services, for instance, are being directly degraded because sustainable energy resources are lacking: Health, water and agriculture systems may suffer where wood is cut for charcoal or electricity is lacking, for instance.

Ten years ago, world leaders set ambitious targets for reducing poverty and improving environmental sustainability around the globe by 2015. Progress toward achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals has been impressive, despite the many challenges posed by conflict, climate change and financial calamities.

The United Nations Foundation, in collaboration with Devex, would like to hear from you about your experience working toward Millennium Development Goal 7, which calls for MDG 7 calls for the integration of sustainable development principles into country policies and programs to reverse the loss of environmental resources and to halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. It also calls for the improvement of living conditions for at least 100 million slum dwellers and urban poor.

This is a unique opportunity for those on the front lines of the global fight for environmental sustainability to tell policymakers what is going on in the field – which approaches have proven successful, and which challenges remain.

The international development community plays a critical role in promoting environmental sustainability, through initiatives large and small. Tell us how your work is helping. Your experience and knowledge is key to one of the most important initiatives of our time.

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