The next 50 years could see a fourfold increase in the size of the global economy and significant reductions in poverty but only if governments act now to avert a growing risk of severe damage to the environment and profound social unrest. Without better policies and institutions, social and environmental strains may derail development progress, leading to higher poverty levels and a decline in the quality of life for everybody.
"Low- income countries will need to grow at 3.6 percent per capita to meet the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty by 2015, but this growth must be achieved in a manner that preserves our future," said Ian Johnson, Vice President of the World Bank's Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Network. "It would be reckless of us to successfully reach the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, only to be confronted by dysfunctional cities, dwindling water supplies, more inequality and conflict, and even less cropland to sustain us than we have now."
Ian Johnson, Vice President of the World Bank's Environmentally
and Socially Sustainable Development Network
Misguided policies and weak governance in past decades have contributed to environmental disasters, income inequality, and social upheaval in some countries, often resulting in deep deprivation, riots, or refugees fleeing famine or civil wars.
Today, many poor people depend on fragile natural resources to survive. Similarly, trust between individuals, which can be eroded or destroyed by civic unrest, is a social asset with important economic benefits, since it enables people to make agreements and undertake transactions that would otherwise not be possible. Development polices need to be more sharply focused on protecting these natural and social assets.
These are among the key findings of the World Development Report 2003. The report suggests new alliances are needed at the local, national and global levels to better address these problems. Transcript of the Washington DC press conference.
The report is also available on-line in a new form that includes a dynamic table-of-contents, improved search capability, and extensive links to supporting documents. Sustainable Development in a Dynamic Economy -- Interactive