Despite increasing urbanisation, over 70 % of the world’s poor live in rural areas, with more than 1.3 billion living without access to electricity. Fertile land, clean water and air are all in decline and climate change and biodiversity loss are close to the limits beyond which there are irreversible effects on human society and the natural environment.
The EU therefore seeks to reduce poverty, increase food security, ensure affordable access to energy, prevent land degradation and protect natural resources.
In its Communication on the future of EU development aid, ‘An Agenda for Change, the EU resolved to help insulate developing countries from agriculture and energy shocks – such as scarcity of resources, supply and price volatility – to provide the foundations for sustainable growth, and to ensure poor people have better access to land, food, water and energy without harming the environment.
Following the outcome of the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, in its February 2013 Communication ‘A Decent Life for All’, the EU proposes principles for an overarching framework for post-2015 that would provide a coherent and comprehensive response to the universal challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development. To achieve these ambitious objectives, moving globally towards an inclusive green economy is crucial. This encompasses several closely inter-related areas such as land, ecosystems and natural resources management, as well as sustainable energy and trade.
In the same document, the EU stressed the importance of a land degradation neutral world as key to economic growth, biodiversity protection, sustainable forest management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and food security.