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The Future of the Global Environment: A Model-based Analysis Supporting UNEP's First Global Environment Outlook

De toekomst van het wereldmilieu: modelmatige scenario-analyse ten behoeve van de eerste wereldmilieuverkenning door UNEP

Synopsis

This report documents the scenario analysis in UNEP's first Global Environment Outlook, published at the same time as the scenario analysis. This Outlook provides a pilot assessment of developments in the environment, both global and regional, between now and 2015, with a further projection to 2050. The study was carried out in support of the Agenda 21 interim evaluation, five years after 'Rio' and ten years after 'Brundtland'. The scenario analysis is based on only one scenario, Conventional Development. It features higher incomes and better health, but increasing regional inequalities. This pattern is reinforced by the analysis using detailed environmental models. Agricultural land use has to expand considerably in order to meet the growing demand for food, while agricultural productivity is not growing quickly enough in Africa and Asia. The little that remains of natural areas comes under heavy pressure. The ratio between water demand and availability becomes problematic in an increasing number of the world's catchment areas, although there are strong regional differences. Trade in food products becomes even more important than it is now, both for one's well-being and for the question on where the environmental pressures will occur. The necessary demographic and health transitions are illustrated with case studies for India, Mexico and the Netherlands. Protection of the environment will become an increasingly important factor in improving healthy life expectancy in developing countries. Future generations will be able to use energy, land and water more efficiently. Although the scenario analyzed in this study is rather optimistic in this respect. The assumed efficiency increases are by and large insufficient to meet the absolute growth in demand. On the other hand, there is technically speaking evidence given of considerable room for reducing the pressure on natural resources - assuming political determination, of course.
 

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