No country has succeeded in meeting the basic social needs of its population over the past 30 years without putting undue pressure on the Earth’s supply of natural resources, according to a study.
Examining a sample of 148 countries, research from the University of Leeds found that rich countries put the future of the planet at risk for minimal gains in human well-being, while poor countries lived within ecological limits but underperformed in areas such as life expectancy. and access to energy.
The report, which follows the conclusion of the Cop26 climate change talks in Glasgow, said that on current trends the next 30 years will see the pattern repeat itself and called for rethinking growth-dominated economic models.
Its authors said the research was the first attempt to track country-by-country progress in meeting environmental and social goals, and that even rich countries considered to perform well in sustainability – such as Germany and the United States. Norway – used more than their fair share of the world’s resources.
The report, which was published in the journal Nature Sustainability, said rich countries, including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, were making minimal social gains despite using resources at a level consistent with social climatic and ecological degradation.
Poorer countries like Bangladesh, Malawi and Sri Lanka lived within planetary borders, but still failed to meet many basic human needs.
Researchers tracked countries’ performance on 11 social priorities broadly aligned with the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Indicators included life expectancy, nutrition, sanitation and access to health. ‘education.
The study also assessed whether countries were operating within six planetary borders, including global warming, excessive fertilizer use, and earth system change.
Dr Andrew Fanning, lead author of the report, said: “Everyone needs a sufficient level of resources to be healthy and participate in their society with dignity, but we also need to ensure that the use of resources world is not so high that we cause climatic and ecological problems. breakdown.
“We have looked at the trajectories of countries since the early 1990s and found that most countries are closer to meeting the basic needs of their residents than they were 30 years ago, which is a good news, although significant gaps remain, especially for collective goals such as equality and democratic quality. .
“The bad news is that the number of countries consuming too many resources is increasing, especially in carbon dioxide emissions and the use of materials.
“Worryingly, we have found that countries tend to overstep fair planetary borders faster than they meet minimum social thresholds. “