Humanity has witnessed unprecedented growth and prosperity in the past four decades, with the size of the world economy more than tripling and population increasing by over 3 billion people since 1970. This growth, however, has been accompanied by environmental pollution and natural resource depletion. The current growth model and the mismanagement of natural assets could ultimately undermine human development.
The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 asks: “What will the next four decades bring?” Based on joint modeling by the OECD and the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, it looks forward to the year 2050 to find out what demographic and economic trends might mean if the world does not adopt more ambitious green policies. This outlook focuses on four areas identified by the previous Environmental Outlook to 2030 (OECD, 2008) as “red light” issues requiring urgent attention: climate change, biodiversity, fresh water, and health impacts of pollution.