Published on 13 March 2019
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UN report with Bennett Institute Author calls for credible leadership to boost innovation and sustainability

Innovation – in technologies, institutions and behaviours – offers the most important route out of many environmental problems, according to the UN’s sixth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-6).

The report, produced by 250 scientists and experts from over 70 countries and with the Bennett Institute’s Dimitri Zenghelis as Coordinating Lead Author, found that guided innovation offers the key route to pre-empt many environmental problems. Technological, institutional and social innovation also stimulates development.

GEO-6 is the most authoritative and comprehensive assessment of the critical challenges facing society and the environment. It describes how the planet is in crisis and why current paths of economic development will lead to hardship for billions of people and potential irreversible catastrophic risks.

The report notes that advancements in collecting environmental statistics, particularly geospatial data, and highlight there is huge potential for advancing knowledge using big data and stronger data collection collaborations between public and private partners.

Dimitri Zenghelis said: “Decoupling environmental degradation and resource use from economic growth, and the associated production and consumption, is essential for achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. But this requires strong and accountable institutions trusted by citizens to deliver a sustainable global economy.”

“Such a society could be resource-efficient and equitable as well as cleaner, safer, more technologically advanced and prosperous,” he added.

The report notes that the main challenges are not technological or economic. Rather, the main challenges are political, institutional and behavioural. It also finds that policy interventions that address entire systems, such as comprehensive emissions policies, rather than individual issues such as a stable climate or local pollution, can be more effective.

Read the full report here.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy.

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