By the year 2050 the world's population will exceed 9 billion. An increasing population, coupled with increased levels of consumption worldwide - but particularly in emerging economies - will place unprecedented demand on ecological systems and natural resources.

Environmental sustainability forms the seventh of the UN's eight Millennium Development Goals for 2015.

Humanity's ecological footprint - the amount of resources needed to sustain it - is 21.9 hectares per person while the Earth's biological capacity is, on average, only 15.7 hectares/person.

For developed countries, such as those in Europe and the North America, the footprint is much higher; to support the world at a similar level  of consumption would require the resources of more than three planet Earths.

Climate change is now accepted by policy makers as a real and evident phenomenon. The UK government's target is to reduce the UK's CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050. There are also mounting challenges in the areas of material resources, availability of water and food production. These sectors are inter-related and a holistic approach to address challenges in these areas could make a major contribution to combating climate change.

The scale of the challenge should not be underestimated, but this presents opportunities to develop technologies now that dramatically reduce the environmental impact of processes, products and services.

The Technology Strategy Board will develop activities in four areas that have major contribution to environmental sustainability:

  • Resource efficiency, waste and pollution management
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water supply, sanitation and use
  • The sustainable food chain

Last updated on Wednesday 27 June 2012 at 11:22

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