The third UNEP Global Environment Outlook
report (GEO-3) provides global and regional
perspectives on the past, present and future
environment, linked together with telling examples
from within various regions to form a comprehensive and
(which can be downloaded from this site
in a 2MB zipped PDF format rather than from the UN's slow server)
presents four possible scenarios for
the way our world develops from this time forward. Which one appeals to you?
Most of the world adopts the values and expectations
prevailing in today’s industrialized countries.
The wealth of
nations and the optimal play of market forces dominate
social and political agendas.
Trust is placed in further
globalization and liberalization to enhance corporate
wealth, create new enterprises and livelihoods, and so help
people and communities to afford to insure against, or
pay to fix, social and environmental problems.
investors, together with citizen and consumer groups, try
to exercise growing corrective influence but are
undermined by economic imperatives.
The powers of state
officials, planners and lawmakers to regulate society,
economy and the environment continue to be overwhelmed
by expanding demands.
Decisive initiatives are taken by governments in an attempt
to reach specific social and environmental goals.
A coordinated pro-environment and anti-poverty drive
balances the momentum for economic development at any cost.
Environmental and social costs and gains are
factored into policy measures, regulatory frameworks and
All these are reinforced by fiscal levers
or incentives such as carbon taxes and tax breaks.
International ‘soft law’ treaties and binding instruments
affecting environment and development are integrated into
unified blueprints and their status in law is upgraded,
though fresh provision is made for open consultation
processes to allow for regional and local variants.
This scenario assumes a world of striking disparities where
inequality and conflict prevail.
environmental stresses give rise to waves of protest and
As such troubles become increasingly
prevalent, the more powerful and wealthy groups focus on
self-protection, creating enclaves akin to the present day
Such islands of advantage provide a
degree of enhanced security and economic benefits for
dependent communities in their immediate surroundings
but they exclude the disadvantaged mass of outsiders.
Welfare and regulatory services fall into disuse but market
forces continue to operate outside the walls.
A new environment and development paradigm emerges in
response to the challenge of sustainability, supported by
new, more equitable values and institutions.
A more visionary state of affairs prevails, where radical shifts in
the way people interact with one another and with the
world around them stimulate and support sustainable
policy measures and accountable corporate behavior.
There is much fuller collaboration between governments,
citizens and other stakeholder groups in decision-making
on issues of close common concern.
A consensus is
reached on what needs to be done to satisfy basic needs
and realize personal goals without beggaring others or
spoiling the outlook for posterity.
So again, which one appeals to you? Click on the name of the scenario of your
choice and find out what your world will be like in 2032.
Have a nice world.
If you want all the details,
download Chapter 4 (2,115,077 bytes)
of the Global Environment Outlook report. Most of the information on this
page, and the four linked just above, comes from this very interesting report
which additionally contains many interesting maps and charts.
You will need Abobe Acrobat to read the PDF file after you unzip it.
The contents of this volume do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of UNEP or contributory organizations. The designations employed and the presentations do not imply the expressions of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNEP or contributory organizations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authority, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.
Produced by the UNEP GEO team
Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA)
United Nations Environment Programme
P. O. Box 30552
Tel: +254 2 623562
Fax: +254 2 623943/44
Web site: http://www.unep.org
1. This famous saying by the Buddha has been translated many times:
In this world hatred is never appeased by hatred;
hatred is always appeased by love. This is an ancient law.
Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world.
By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.
Hostilities aren't stilled through hostility, regardless.
Hostilities are stilled through non-hostility: this, an unending truth.