Human development depends on the environment's providing
a variety of goods and servicesnow and in the future. But
the links between environmental conditions and human welfare are
complex. Environmental changes can make poverty worse by compromising
health, livelihoods, and protection from natural disasters. And
economic growth can create new stresses on the environment as the
demand for environmental resources rises and the damaging by-products
of economic activity accumulate. But environmental resources are
needed to promote economic growth and reduce poverty, and growth
itself creates the means and the demand for an improved environment.
2.8 billion poor and near-poor people in the worldthose living
on less than $2 a dayare disproportionately affected by these
bad environmental conditions. They are particularly vulnerable to
shocks from environmental change and natural catastrophes. Every
year around 5 million people in developing countries die from waterborne
diseases and polluted air. The livelihoods of around 1 billion rural
people are at risk because of desertification and land degradation.
And up to two-thirds of the world's people are likely to be affected
by water scarcity.