The biggest challenge facing humanity in the 21st century is poverty eradication and the achievement of prosperity for all, within the means of the planet’s limited natural resources.
Deep inequalities regarding income, gender and power result in millions of people living in poverty and in economic and social exclusion. Almost 900 million people go to bed hungry, 1.4 billion live on less than US$ 1.25 a day and 2.7 billion lack adequately clean cooking facilities.
Achieving sustainable development means ensuring that everyone has the resources they need - i.e. food, water, medical care and energy – in order to exercise their basic human rights effectively. It also means ensuring that the use of natural resources does not put excessive stress on the Earth-system’s vital processes – e.g., generating climate change or biodiversity loss – which are critical for keeping our planet in its current stable state. Known as the Holocene, this stable period has been extremely beneficial to humankind over the past 10,000 years.
Managing to live within this safe and just space for humanity is a complex challenge, given that social boundaries (such as hunger, inequality or lack of health) and environmental planetary boundaries (such as climate change or biodiversity loss) are interdependent. Environmental stress can aggravate poverty and vice versa. This is why we need well-designed policies and new consumption and production habits if we are to succeed in attaining a sustainable and inclusive development.
We propose the following objectives for this year’s Connecting Worlds: