We now know that the human species, the planet and civilization may very well be mortal. Our ‘business-as-usual’ approach to environmental issues and in political will threatens to ruin us. Without immediate action to combat global warming, we face losing 5 to 20 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our very biosphere is in jeopardy: increased desertification, deforestation, air and soil pollution, dwindling biodiversity, water crises and the degradation of the oceans.
A novel approach to our economy is needed, one that fosters less material forms of production, reduces superfluous consumption and wastes less raw material. We have to create and implement new styles of development that, without halting growth, spare the planet and preserve biodiversity. It is high time, as this volume proposes, for humanity to make a new pact, a ‘natural contract’, of co-development with the planet.
UNESCO is actively involved in this forward-looking debate, as reflected in its 21st Century Talks series, which open a forum for discussion on key issues of the future. An ethic of the future must prevail if we are to make peace with the Earth.
Contributors: Jérôme Bindé, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Asit K. Biswas, Paul J. Crutzen, Nicolas Hulot, Michel Loreau, Syukuro Manabe, Jean Margat, Haroldo Mattos de Lemos, Dennis Meadows, Michel Serres, Mostafa Kamal Tolba, Dominique Voynet, Mathis Wackernagel, Edward O. Wilson