Ecological reinforcement urged
Dubai, December 3, 2009
‘Future-proofing’ of infrastructure development will be crucial as current ecological consumption is exceeding natural replenishment, according to an environment specialist.
“We are entering a new era. While countries were categorized as ‘developed’ and ‘developing nations’, the future will see them being categorized based on their consumption of natural resources,” said Dr Mathis Wackernagel, founder and executive director of Global Footprint Network, a top environment agency.
“Nations consuming lesser than their capacity to regenerate resources would be termed ‘ecological creditors’, whereas those consuming more than their regenerative capacity will be termed as ‘ecological debtors’.”
Dr Wackernagel was speaking at a lecture hosted by Dubai School of Government (DSG) in collaboration with the UAE Ecological Footprint Initiative (EFI), which is a public-private partnership between the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, the Abu Dhabi Global Environment Data Initiative, Emirates Wildlife Society – WWF, and the Global Footprint Network.
Launched in October 2007 and co-created by Dr Wackernagel, the initiative operates as a national effort to ensure a sustainable future by measuring and understanding the impact of our ways of living on planet Earth.
Starting in the 1980s, human demand and consumption of the earth’s resources – termed ecological footprint – has been greater than its potential to supply, he said.
According to reports generated by UN agencies, by 1996 humanity was using about 15 per cent more of the planet’s resources than it can supply in one year.
Today, this stands at 30 per cent and is likely to exceed double the earth’s regenerative capacity by 2050.
“The sustenance of the human race is dependent on how we build and rebuild our infrastructure. Our investment decisions for infrastructure need to be based on life-cycle thinking as its effect will be felt over the next 50 or 100 years,” Dr Wackernagel said.
“The world will be much weaker in resources by then and poor choices would have a detrimental effect on us both economically and ecologically, while good decisions would lead to prosperity.”
Highlighting the importance of ‘future proofing’ our economies, Dr Wackernagel pointed out that the infrastructure that is built today, including roads, power plants, housing, water systems, and urban expansions may last 50 or even 100 years.
He added: “As infrastructure shapes the way we live, today’s investment decisions largely determine the level and type of resource consumption for decades to come. Poor choices can lock us into this ecologically (and economically) risky business-as-usual scenario.
“Good choices will build the foundation for prosperity. It is imperative for countries and cities to direct investments into infrastructure in order to create wellbeing in a world of rising resource constraints.”
Dr Tarik Yousef, dean of DSG, said: “Ecological development and economic expansion do not go hand in hand at all times. It is of utmost importance to recognize the ecological issues at hand and implement measures that will change this balance.” – TradeArabia News Service