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Climate change and inequality World risks missing development goals, experts warn

UN Secretary-General Guterres and panel of experts on sustainable development

UN sectetary-general Guterres and Peter Messerli (front row centre) with other members of the panel of experts on sustainable development in New York.

(Sg's Office/Un Photo/eskinder Debebe)

Leading scientists say growing inequality and climate change will not only derail progress towards global sustainability goals but threaten human existence.

Presenting a report at the United Nations in New York, Switzerland’s Peter Messerli external linksaid humans and the environment were closely linked.

“These systems are on a very worrying trajectory, threatening the very existence of humanity,” he warned. “But we have not realized the urgency to act now.”

Messerli, a professor of geography at the Swiss university of Bern, is the co-chair of the group of independent scientists carrying out the research on sustainability on behalf of the UN.

The reportexternal link, requested by all countries to evaluate progress on the 2030 sustainable development agenda, is the first of its kind since the landmark sustainable development goals were adopted four years ago.

The bleak assessment was published on Wednesday ahead of a UN summit later this month.

“The present model of development has delivered prosperity to hundreds of millions. But it also has led to continuing poverty and other deprivations; unprecedented levels of inequality that undermine innovation, social cohesion and sustainable economic growth,” according to the panel of scientists.

Shantanu Mukherjee, senior UN official, said one of element is the increasing inequality.

“Another is the pace at which nature is being degraded by human activity, whether it is climate change or biodiversity loss,” he is quoted by the Reuters news agency.

The scientists called on countries, researchers and libraries to improve cross-border and interdisciplinary cooperation.

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A study published in The Lancet, a peer-reviewed general medical journal, drew up a sustainable diet that could feed 10 billion people in 2050.

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