Four infographics to help you understand the state of the planet

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Simon Torkington, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • A growing population means we all need to change the way we live, work and travel.
  • The food we eat and the way it’s made can reduce our impact on the planet.
  • Most of us will live in smart cities by 2050 – but how can we make them sustainable?
  • These infographics from UNEP can help us understand the scale of what we face and point to solutions.

The sheer number of people relying on the Earth’s resources to survive and thrive is putting unsustainable pressure on the planet.

The global population will reach eight billion people by 2025, according to the statisticians at Worldometer. By 2050 there will be almost 10 billion people to house, feed and clothe.

But almost every decision we make can help to reduce our impact on the planet. Where we live, how we travel and what we eat all make a difference.

These infographics from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), connected to the Sustainable Development Goals, show the scale of the situation – and how we can rethink the way we live to sustain all life on our planet.

A menu for survival

a chart showing different statistics on how our food system affect our planet
Feeding a growing population puts huge pressure on resources. Image: United Nations Environment Programme/International Resource Panel

Agriculture and fishing has a big impact on the planet. As the chart above shows, food systems are responsible for 60% of biodiversity loss on land and 61% of the total depletion of commercial fish stocks. Food systems also contribute 24% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The challenge for the future is enormous. A 60% increase in food production is needed to feed 9 billion people. Worldometer says we’ll reach that number in 2037.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Food initiative looks at the innovations that could provide the planet with adequate food resources to feed everyone, in a secure and sustainable manner.

Solutions include the ‘planetary health diet’, which involves a shift towards plant-based eating: more than doubling the global consumption of healthy foods such as vegetables and nuts, and a greater than 50% reduction in consumption of foods such as added sugars and red meat.

It was designed by 37 experts as part of the EAT-Lancet Commission to answer the question of how we’re going to feed a projected 10 billion people, without destroying the planet, by 2050. Food

What is the World Economic Forum doing to help ensure global food security?

Two billion people in the world currently suffer from malnutrition and according to some estimates, we need 60% more food to feed the global population by 2050. Yet the agricultural sector is ill-equipped to meet this demand: 700 million of its workers currently live in poverty, and it is already responsible for 70% of the world’s water consumption and 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

New technologies could help our food systems become more sustainable and efficient, but unfortunately the agricultural sector has fallen behind other sectors in terms of technology adoption.

Launched in 2018, the Forum’s Innovation with a Purpose Platform is a large-scale partnership that facilitates the adoption of new technologies and other innovations to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume our food.

With research, increasing investments in new agriculture technologies and the integration of local and regional initiatives aimed at enhancing food security, the platform is working with over 50 partner institutions and 1,000 leaders around the world to leverage emerging technologies to make our food systems more sustainable, inclusive and efficient.

Learn more about Innovation with a Purpose’s impact and contact us to see how you can get involved.

A place to call home

a chart showing africa's population growth
By 2050 two thirds of the global population will live in cities. Image: United Nations Environment Programme/International Resource Panel

As we reach the middle of the century, 66% of the world population will be living in cities.

Much of the transition from rural to urban living will happen in Asia and Africa, where many cities are already overcrowded, clogged with traffic and heavily polluted. Existing cities will need to be expanded and new ones built, according to the UNEP.

But simply expanding and building more of what we already have won’t solve the problems many cities face. A focus on ‘smart cities’ will be required.

A 2020 report from the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization analyzes 25 case studies. These urban centres are already moving ahead with initiatives to create the cities of the future.

The report says: “Cities are increasingly implementing projects with smart solutions in waste management, traffic congestion, citizen safety, affordable housing, water resource management, smart buildings, efficient use of energy, renewable energy resources, facilitating navigation of autonomous vehicles, citizen participation and stakeholder consultation, to name a few.”

On the move

a chart showing how we can improve emissions
Cohabiting and a commuter revolution could lessen emissions. Image: United Nations Environment Programme/International Resource Panel

Emissions from transport systems are among the most significant and most damaging human impacts on the planet.

In 2018, transport was responsible for 24% of global carbon dioxide emissions from energy, according to this visualization of data from the International Energy Agency and the International Council on Clean Transportation. Road transport including cars, motorcycles, buses and taxis, accounted for 45.1% of the total emissions from transport.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we think about where we work and how we get to the workplace and back home.

The chart above suggests that we will still need to rethink the way we travel, showing ride sharing, car sharing and using different vehicles for different types of trip will be important in lessening our impact on the planet.

It also suggests a rethink in the way we use our homes, suggesting increased household sizes and peer-to-peer lodging to maximize the use of housing units.

It’s time to trash the throwaway culture

a chart showing how we can rethink manufacturing
Ending the throwaway culture to reduce our impact on the planet. Image: United Nations Environment Programme/International Resource Panel

Many wealthy nations have developed a throwaway culture where everything from fast-fashion clothing to household white goods are disposed of.

UN-Habitat says 99% of the items we purchase are thrown away within six months. It all adds up to 2 billion tonnes of waste produced globally each year, according to the World Bank.

The chart above shows how a ‘circular economy‘ with new manufacturing processes would reduce waste and increase sustainability.

It shows how value-retention processes at the heart of production systems would prioritize reuse, repair, refurbish and remanufacture. The modelling shows this could reduce the use of raw materials by 80 – 99% and cut the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 79 – 99%. At the same time, such a change would reduce costs, stimulate innovation and create green jobs.

In 2017, the World Economic Forum launched the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) as a platform for public and private sector leaders to take commitments and accelerate collective action towards the circular economy​.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

International community agrees on a road map for resolving the tax challenges arising from digitalisation of the economy

‘Crimes against humanity,’ ‘war crimes’ and risk of new ethnic violence in DR Congo, warn UN experts

Statement by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the outcome of COP 25

‘Maintain calm’ and ‘exercise patience’ UN envoy urges, as Nigeria heads to polls

The refugee crisis seen through the eyes of a young doctor from Turkey

Cleantech innovation is being stifled. Here’s how to unlock it

Basel III rules relaxed: Banks got it all but become more prone to crisis

These are the world’s 10 most innovative economies

4 myths about corruption

How to reimagine our cities as hubs for biodiversity, conservation and climate resilience

OECD and European Commission join forces to further support structural reforms in European countries

3 ways to protect LGBTI rights across the world

Commission disburses €14 billion under SURE to nine Member States

Protecting refugees in Europe: UNHCR calls for a ‘year of change’

‘Bicycle Kingdom’ makes a comeback, as China seeks solutions to tackle air pollution crisis

GSMA Announces First Keynote Speakers for 2019 “MWC Los Angeles, in Partnership with CTIA”

Palliative Care: A Gap to fill in healthcare service

5G will redefine entire business models. Here’s how

‘Catastrophic’ healthcare costs put mothers and newborns at risk

The Eurogroup protects Germany and blames others

How to talk about climate change: 5 tips from the front lines

Global Cooperation for Local Action: Fighting antimicrobial resistance

The future of crypto-assets, from opportunities to policy implications

This is what different countries are doing to stop coronavirus from spreading

Future-proofing the European banking market – removing the obstacles to exit

Why trade wars have no winners

Ηealth’s foundation is falling apart: what can we do about it?

European Commission and European Investment Fund launch €75 million BlueInvest Fund

Trade war or not New York bankers will have it their way

How building renovations can speed up the electric vehicle revolution

European Youth Capital 2018 : Cascais

Central African Republic: Guterres says UN mission committed to protecting civilians, helping stabilize country, as violence flares

Turkey needs to step up investment in renewables to curb emissions

Commissioner for Crisis Management in Kabul: EU steps up humanitarian assistance with €32 million

Senior UN children’s advocate says they ‘should never be targeted by violence’

A Sting Exclusive, the European Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger writes for the Sting on “EU Industry: a major energizer”

Chart of the day: These are the cities where the World Cup threatens productivity the most

Wash your hands, but keep your mind clean

Human rights breaches in Bangladesh, Cuba and Vietnam

New UN-supported farming app is cream of crop in tackling Sahel pest

Privatisation and public health: a question of Human Rights

Can this billion-dollar initiative save the world’s tropical forests?

European Investment Bank to borrow €70 billion in 2013

‘These are very dark times for Yemen’: senior UN official on air strike mass casualties

Why and how did ISIS and Muslim fundamentalism gain momentum this year?

Brexit: when the hubris of one man can set the UK, the EU and the entire world on fire

Warmongers ready to chew what is left of social protection spending

State aid: Commission refers United Kingdom to European Court for failure to fully recover illegal tax exemption aid of up to around €100 million in Gibraltar

Youth Forum calls on Parliament to ease entry into Europe for young people

Better sanitation for India is in the pipeline

Why transparency in drug pricing is more complicated than it seems

COVID-19: faster authorisation for vaccines adapted to variants

As inequality grows, the UN fights for a fairer world

DiscoverEU: 20,000 more young people will explore Europe in 2020

‘Undersea gardeners’ are restoring Jamaica’s lost coral reefs

The global response to the coronavirus pandemic must not be undermined by bribery

Banks must take bold action to fight climate change. This is how they can do it

COVID-19 threatens the developing world’s small businesses. This is how to save them

Chronic illnesses: UN stands up to stop 41 million avoidable deaths per year

Mediterranean migrant drownings should spur greater action by European countries, urge UN agencies

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s