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World Environment Day came and went: Has anything changed?

<p>As the globe celebrated World Environment Day this week, the UN released a report finding that just progress has been made on just a handful of important international sustainability goals.</p>

Events and celebrations took place around the world this week (June 5th) to mark the 29th World Environment Day. This year's event was particularly significant as it took place virtually on the eve of Rio+20, a reconvening of the United Nation's Earth Summit launched 20 years ago in Rio de Janeiro, which is scheduled to open in two weeks' time.  

This week the United Nations Environment Program released the fifth edition of the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO-5). Its conclusion: "The world continues to speed down an unsustainable path despite over 500 internationally agreed goals and objectives to support the sustainable management of the environment and improve human well-being ..."  

It assessed 90 of the most-important environmental goals and objectives and found that significant progress had only been made in four.  

This is hardly an encouraging starting point for the discussions that will take place in a few days involving leaders from over 130 nations, particularly in the wake of a series of preparatory meetings of government leaders and officials over the past two years that have yet to produce a viable agreement on how to manage carbon emissions in the post-Kyoto period.

And yet progress has been made and continues to be made by many globally responsible companies. Some may even argue that there is a disconnect between the progress of corporations and that of governments.

With the Rio+20 preparatory meetings seemingly bogged down in rhetoric and/or minutiae, one wonders if part of the problem is seeking the perfect global solution rather than focusing on bite-sized chunks that can be agreed and acted on, particularly actions where governments could share the responsibility with the private sector.

The overall bottom line on the environment is that the pressures on the natural environment are greater today than ever before and the need for responsible environmental management in both business and government is even more important now than 20 years ago when the first Rio Summit took place.

The need for business and government to work together on practical and "do-able" measures to protect the environment and to promote responsible sustainable development has been the guiding principle behind everything that the GLOBE Foundation has undertaken -- even before the first Rio event.

So despite the very gloomy observations of the latest Global Environmental Outlook and the many doubts about what might be accomplished in the next few days at Rio+20, my fervent wish is that the dialogue continue and that in time an agreement will emerge on practical measures to hasten the transition toward a greener global economy.

Our future depends on it.

This article originally appeared at and is reprinted with permission.

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