The United Nations projects that by 2050, the world population will reach more than 9 billion people. How will we provide the necessities for these extra two billion people, when we have not even met the needs of our current population?
Technology is an answer. Advances in medicine, agriculture or engineering, have allowed the population to reach its current numbers. But can we rely on technology alone? We cannot escape the fact that we are using unsustainable amounts of non-renewable resources in our daily lives.
One can imagine that with two billion more people on the way, we need to do more with less. We need to rethink and reconstruct the way we live. We need to ask questions like why do we use drinking water to flush the toilet when nearly a billion people lack access to safe drinking water? Why do we waste nearly 1/3 of food grown for human consumption every year? Already scientists are working on new technologies to get more energy out of a solar array, perfect efficient irrigation techniques, and redesign packaging. But more efficient resource management will require investments in the mundane as well. For example, the world will require massive investments in more efficient and better infrastructure, to avoid things like climate-change-inducing methane leaks from natural gas pipelines.
WRF 2011 opens with these questions and a discussion of these problems. Slyvie Lemmet, the Director of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE) of the United Nations Environmental Programme, will be presenting on September 19th in the first session. Lemmet is a part of the high level opening session, which asks the question “What do we need to achieve?” Her focus will be on resource efficiency and creating a green economy. As a former official with the World Bank, and as a former Chief Financial Officer for Médecins sans Frontières, she will no doubt have an interesting take on how to balance economics with humanitarian and sustainability efforts. An economist by training, she looks to the private sector to lead in sustainability, until the public sector can work out appropriate policy.
Check back tomorrow for coverage of her talk and the panel discussion. If you have questions or comments for Sylvie or us reporters, write them in the comment box. In the meantime, what are your opinions on what we need to achieve in resource management for a better world? .