UNITED NATIONS — The COVID-19 pandemic, the latest crisis facing the world, will not be the last unless humans release their grip on nature, said a new UN report published Tuesday.
According to the report titled “The Next Frontier: Human Development and the Anthropocene,” world leaders need to take bold steps to reduce the immense pressure that is being exerted on the environment and the natural world, or humanity’s progress will stall.
“Humans wield more power over the planet than ever before. In the wake of COVID-19, record-breaking temperatures and spiraling inequality, it is time to use that power to redefine what we mean by progress, where our carbon and consumption footprints are no longer hidden,” said Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which also introduces a new experimental index on human progress in the report.
“As this report shows, no country in the world has yet achieved very high human development without putting immense strain on the planet. But we could be the first generation to right this wrong. That is the next frontier for human development,” said Steiner.
The report argues that as people and planet enter an entirely new geological epoch, it is time for all countries to redesign their paths to progress by fully accounting for the dangerous pressures humans put on the planet, and dismantle the gross imbalances of power and opportunity that prevent change. It also introduces two more indicators — a country’s carbon dioxide emissions and its material footprint — into the Human Development Index (HDI), a statistic composite index of life expectancy, education and per capita income indicators, to show how the global development landscape will change if both the wellbeing of people and the planet are central to defining humanity’s progress.