the agenda laid bare
In Chapter One, Hugh Atkinson argues that people and the planet face a number of fundamental challenges in the second decade of the 21st century. These include climate change, increased poverty and rising inequality, deforestation, drought, and rising sea levels. At times, such challenges seem overwhelming. Indeed, there is a real danger of a counsel of despair. It is true that progress on meeting these challenges has appeared painfully slow at times. Politicians and decision-makers have often been guilty of short-term thinking based on the exigencies of the electoral cycle and the demands of our consumerist society when what is needed is long-term strategic thinking. However, the chapter argues that with strong political leadership backed up by pressure from below, there is a clear opportunity to meet these challenges and move towards a more sustainable world. From the Rio Summit of 1992 to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change in 1998, through to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there is some evidence of a strengthening global agenda to build a more sustainable and equitable world. True, it is a daunting agenda, but it is one that simply cannot be ignored.
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