Sustainability is a key concern for individuals, organizations, and governments around the world. It involves balancing economic, social, and environmental factors to ensure that current needs are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Here are some important sustainability statistics to consider:
- Human-induced warming reached approximately 1°C (likely between 0.8°C and 1.2°C) above pre-industrial levels in 2017, increasing at 0.2°C (likely between 0.1°C and 0.3°C) per decade (high confidence) (IPCC). This warming is primarily caused by the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane.
- The burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, is the main source of CO2 emissions. Transportation, electricity, energy use in industry, and energy use in buildings are the largest contributors to these emissions.
- Deforestation and land use changes are major drivers of biodiversity loss and contribute to climate change. These activities also have negative impacts on local communities, who often rely on forests for livelihoods.
- Water scarcity is a growing concern, with an estimated 4 billion people experiencing severe water scarcity at least one month per year. Climate change, population growth, and overconsumption of water are major drivers of this issue.
- The world’s population is expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, and the demand for resources such as food, water, and energy will increase accordingly.
- The production of animal-based foods has a larger environmental impact than plant-based alternatives. For example, the production of beef has a significantly larger carbon footprint than plant-based proteins such as beans and lentils.
- Animal agriculture is also a major contributor to deforestation and land degradation, as forests are often cleared to create pastureland or to grow feed. Adopting a vegan diet can help reduce demand for these products and minimize their negative impact on the environment.
- The water footprint of animal-based foods is also generally larger compared to plant-based alternatives. For example, it takes about 15,000 liters of water to produce one kg of beef, while it only takes 287 liters of water to produce one kilogram of potatoes.
- Poverty is a major global issue, with over 736 million people living below the poverty line.
- Gender inequality is also a significant issue, with women and girls often facing discrimination, (sexual) violence, and disadvantages in various aspects of life.
- Globally, 26 per cent of ever-partnered women aged 15 and older (641 million) have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by a husband or intimate partner at least once in their lifetime (UN).
- As of 1 January 2022, the global share of women in lower and single houses of national parliaments reached 26.2 per cent, up from 22.4 per cent in 2015 (UN).
- The global economy is highly interconnected and dependent on trade, with over 95% of the world’s population living outside the United States.
- The transition to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power is a key aspect of sustainability, as it can help reduce reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate the negative environmental impacts of energy production.
The transition to clean energy is expected to generate 10.3 million net new jobs globally by 2030.
Overall, these statistics highlight the complexity of sustainability and the need for a holistic approach to addressing economic, social, and environmental issues. By considering these statistics and taking action to support sustainability efforts, individuals and organizations can contribute to a more equitable and sustainable future.