6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where do we stand?

Deforestation has slowed, but global greenhouse gas emissions continue their upward trend.

In recent years, the net loss of forest area has slowed, due to both a slight decrease in deforestation and an increase in afforestation. Deforestation, forest degradation and poor forest management release carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

A continual rise in greenhouse gas emissions is projected to further warm the planet and cause long-lasting changes in the climate system, threatening severe and irreversible consequences for people and ecosystems.

Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), 1990 and 2012 (billions of metric tonnes, data for 2012 are preliminary)
Source: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015

Bar Chart
  • Ozone-depleting substances have been virtually eliminated, and the ozone layer is expected to recover by the middle of this century.
  • Global emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by over 50 percent since 1990.
  • In 2015, 91 percent of the global population uses an improved drinking water source, up from 76 percent in 1990.
  • Since 1990, 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation, and the proportion of people practising open defecation globally has fallen almost by half.
  • The proportion of the urban population living in slums in the developing regions fell from 39.4 percent to 29.7 percent between 2000 and 2014.

Read more in The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015.

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2015: Time for Global Action

Ensuring that leaders take ambitious decisions to reduce poverty and inequality and protect our planet this year is everyone’s responsibility.

Here’s how you can do your part...
Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums