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 Friday, 10 January, 2003, 02:37 GMT
Eco-activism bearing fruit, report says
Wind farm
National initiatives have boosted wind power
Grassroots activities can bring tangible change to the environment, the Worldwatch organisation has said in its State of the World 2003 report.

Despite the disappointments of the Johannesburg world summit last year, the group gives an upbeat prognosis for the planet, saying people can still make a real difference to their world.

"Building a world where we meet our own needs without denying future generations a healthy society is not impossible, as some would assert," said Worldwatch Institute President Christopher Flavin.

"The question is where societies choose to put their creative efforts."

Successes and challenges

According to Worldwatch, success stories include:

  • 30% increase in use of solar energy and wind power in countries such as Germany, Japan and Spain in the last five years
  • 81% drop in ozone-depleting CFC production during the 1990s and a slowing in the growth of the Antarctic ozone hole
  • Reduction in polio cases globally from 350,000 in 1988 to 480 in 2001

The group says notable achievements have been brought about by concerted efforts at local, national and state levels.

"From Germany to rural China, renewable energy, especially wind power and solar (photovoltaic) power, has come of age," the report says.

Renewable energy is now a multi-billion-dollar global business, it points out.

The report highlights some of the challenges for the future.

  • Malaria, which claims 7,000 lives every day - more than Aids
  • Bird extinctions
  • 5,500 children die each day from diseases linked to polluted food, air and water
  • The rate of ice melt, which has doubled since 1988

"We have seen many times in human history that societies are able to learn quickly from experience and to then act," said State of the World 2003 project director Gary Gardner.

The report says that in the developing world, women are often the first to feel the impact of environmental degradation, as they rely on vegetation and water for their daily household needs.

It says areas of high biodiversity should be targeted for improvements in reproductive health, education and women's rights.

See also:

09 Dec 02 | Business
09 Dec 02 | Science/Nature
20 Nov 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Sep 02 | Africa
03 Sep 02 | Africa
29 Aug 02 | Africa
04 Sep 02 | Africa
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