Make a choice, make an impact
Nature conservation and sustainable development go hand-in-hand.They are not only about preserving biodiversity and wild places, but just as much about safeguarding the future of humanity – our well-being, economy, food security and social stability – indeed, our very survival.
In a world where so many people live in poverty, it may appear as though protecting nature is a luxury. But it is quite the opposite. For many of the world’s poorest people, it is a lifeline. Importantly though, we are all in this together. We all need nutritious food, fresh water and clean air – wherever in the world we live.
Knowing we only have one planet, WWF believes that humanity can make better choices that will translate into clear benefits for humanity and nature today and in the long term.
Biodiversity is declining sharply, global resource stocks are diminishing and waste is accumulating faster than it can be absorbed, such as with the growing carbon concentration in the atmosphere. These are some of the conclusions of the 2014 Living Planet report, WWF’s flagship publication on the state of the planet. By taking more from our ecosystems and natural processes than can be replenished, we are jeopardizing our very future. And low-income countries are the ones suffering the most from ecosystem losses and climate change.
The EU’s Ecological Footprint  is big. If everyone lived as an average European, humanity would need 2.6 earths to sustain our lifestyles. For example, out of the EU Member States evaluated, Belgium – the country which hosts the EU Institutions – has one of the world’s largest Ecological Footprints per person, ranking 5th globally behind countries like Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This is because of Belgium’s highly energy intensive buildings and transport infrastructures as well as low taxes on diesel leading to low rate of cars occupancy and a high amount of vehicle kilometres per person.
Our consumption – as Europeans – rests largely on the natural resources of other and often poorer countries. The dual effect of a growing human population and an increasing per capita footprint will multiply the pressure we place on global resources. The challenge is for countries to increase their human wellbeing while keeping humanity’s footprint down to globally sustainable levels.
We are all connected – and we have the potential to create the solutions that will safeguard the future of our one and only planet. Solutions are at hand. People and businesses can produce better, consume more wisely and move to economic models that value nature.
As European citizens, choices we make at home affect people and ecosystems across the world. The traditional development narrative based on the North-South dichotomy and aid is outdated. As citizens of a globalized world and consumers of global resources, each of us has a responsibility to limit the social and environmental impacts of our lifestyles through limiting carbon emissions, adopting sustainable food diets or buying certified consumer goods. WWF’s Ecoguide proposes everyday actions that can truly make a difference.
This year is an important moment for the EU and global sustainable development. In particular, current and future revisions of EU policies and guiding strategies such as Europe 2020 provide ideal opportunities to integrate environmental and social concerns more strongly into our policy-making across a wide range of sectors and address the EU policies’ impact on the world. The EU will also sign to thenew Sustainable Development agenda to be agreed on by the United Nations in September 2015 and governments are expected reach a strong global agreement with on Climate Change at the UN Paris Conference December 2015.
 Our ‘Ecological Footprint’ refers to the summing up of the hectares of space required to match our demand for goods and services. This includes areas needed for crops, grazing land for meat production, fishing grounds, and forests needed to absorb our carbon dioxide emissions.
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