World risks missing development goals, experts warn

UN sectetary-general Guterres and Peter Messerli (front row centre) with other members of the panel of experts on sustainable development in New York. Sg's Office/Un Photo/eskinder Debebe

Leading scientists say growing inequality and climate change will not only derail progress towards global sustainability goals but threaten human existence.

This content was published on September 12, 2019

Presenting a report at the United Nations in New York, Switzerland’s Peter Messerli External linksaid humans and the environment were closely linked.

“These systems are on a very worrying trajectory, threatening the very existence of humanity,” he warned. “But we have not realized the urgency to act now.”

Messerli, a professor of geography at the Swiss university of Bern, is the co-chair of the group of independent scientists carrying out the research on sustainability on behalf of the UN.

The reportExternal link, requested by all countries to evaluate progress on the 2030 sustainable development agenda, is the first of its kind since the landmark sustainable development goals were adopted four years ago.

The bleak assessment was published on Wednesday ahead of a UN summit later this month.

“The present model of development has delivered prosperity to hundreds of millions. But it also has led to continuing poverty and other deprivations; unprecedented levels of inequality that undermine innovation, social cohesion and sustainable economic growth,” according to the panel of scientists.

Shantanu Mukherjee, senior UN official, said one of element is the increasing inequality.

“Another is the pace at which nature is being degraded by human activity, whether it is climate change or biodiversity loss,” he is quoted by the Reuters news agency.

The scientists called on countries, researchers and libraries to improve cross-border and interdisciplinary cooperation.

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Sort by

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Almost finished... We need to confirm your email address. To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Weekly top stories

Keep up to date with the best stories from SWI on a range of topics, straight into your mailbox.


The SBC Privacy Policy provides additional information on how your data is processed.