Programme Categories

We need to act with a sense of urgency to find and implement solutions to repair and nurture the earth and to leave a legacy of a healthy planet for future generations.

We can all start seeking solutions and making changes by looking within our communities at grass roots level; If each person does one small thing to improve his or her neighbourhood and encourages others to do the same, the ripple effect will influence the future of our earth in a positive way.

Water

Water is the common thread that links all aspects of human development. Water security is therefore vital to all social and economic sectors as well as the natural resource base on which the world depends. But an expanding population, growing economies and poor water management are putting unprecedented pressure on our freshwater resources (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).

Why we need to act

  • Large parts of the world are already experiencing significant water shortages and stress, this is likely to worsen as global populations, economies and consumption rates continue to grow (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • Over the past century, the global population has tripled, but our water usage has increased over six times this number (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • Water usage in the UK is now around 150 litres per person per day. If you take into account our daily embedded water (the water we consume through foods and associated production) it is 3400 litres per person (Waterwise, 2012).
  • Unless action is taken now water insecurity will become a global issue, we only have a finite amount of water on Earth (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • One in every sixth person on Earth does not have daily, immediate access to safe drinking water (Do something.org, 2014).

Energy

The current level of energy use plays a huge role in global climate change, frequency of extreme weather events, water pollution and regional air pollution (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).

Why we need to act

  • 60 – 80% of the worlds population live in towns and cities which amounts to over half of the worlds total energy use, (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • Since the industrial revolution there has been an explosive growth in the use of fossil fuels for energy, which are a huge contributor to global pollution levels.
  • Carbon dioxide emissions and energy use are inextricable. Nearly all use of energy results in increased CO2 emissions somewhere – even nuclear electricity and renewable power require energy (and emit CO2) to build generating capacity and, for nuclear, in extracting and refining uranium (DECC –Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2013).

Air

In Europe, exposure to particulate matter (PM) decreases the life expectancy of every person by an average of almost 1 year, mostly due to increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and lung cancer (World Health Organisation, 2014).

Why we need to act

  • The earth’s surface has warmed by about 0.75°C since the 1900s and about 0.4°C since the 1970s. Average global temperatures may rise between 1.1°C and 6.4°C above 1990 levels by the end of this century. More than 30 billion tonnes of CO2 are emitted globally each year by burning fossil fuels (Committee on Climate Change, 2014).
  • Air pollution is hugely harmful to our health, particularly those who suffer with respiratory problems such as Asthma.
  • Air pollution causes damage to plants and animals, affecting biodiversity and crop yields. It can also pollute areas of water creating ocean acidification, ecosystem damage and polluted freshwater supplies. (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).

Transport

Transport is responsible for around a quarter of EU greenhouse gas emissions making it the second biggest greenhouse gas emitting sector after energy (European Commission, 2014).

Why we need to act

  • At the end of March 2014 there were 35.3 million vehicles licensed for use on the road in Great Britain (Department for Transport, 2014).
  • Vehicles have a major impact on the environment through their construction, use and eventual disposal. During a vehicles lifetime its CO2 emissions break down as 10% from its manufacture and 5% from its disposal and 85% coming from fuel use and servicing operations (Environmental Protection UK, 2014).

Built Environment

Urbanisation reinforces the impacts of climate change such as increased temperatures, increased rates of flash flooding, and reduced habitats (London Climate Change partnership, 2014).

Why we need to act

  • The energy used in our homes accounts for more than a quarter of the UK’s Carbon Dioxide emissions and energy use, housing therefore provides a huge opportunity to cut emissions and energy usage (DoECC, Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2013).
  • Out of the total energy consumption in an average household, 50% goes to space heating, 27% to run appliances, 19% to heat water and 4% goes to air conditioning (Buildings and their impact on the environment, 2009).

Bio-Diversity

We share this planet with millions of other species and varieties of life, and depend on ecosystems for all our basic needs. While current trends in biodiversity and ecosystem services are sharply and dangerously negative, the right actions, developed and implemented promptly, can restore a biologically rich and ecologically viable planet. (Planet Under Pressure Report, 2012).

Why we need to act

  • Human pressure on the worlds natural ecosystems is unprecedented, although some measures have been taken to try to reduce the rates of ecosystem deterioration, it is still continuing and in some cases accelerating (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • Targets set by the World Sustainable Development summit for 2010 were not achieved, around one third of vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list remain threatened (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • Traditional varieties of crops and domestic livestock are also threatened despite their ability to adapt well to their local environments. They are being replaced by homogenised farming systems and polluted aquatic ecosystems (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • Habitat change, over-exploitation, invasive alien species, pollution, and climate change are the most important direct drivers of change in ecosystems (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).

Wellbeing

Our rapidly increasing and urbanizing global population is facing unprecedented food, energy, economic and security crises, which are being compounded by climate change and extreme environmental events. As planetary boundaries are placed under increasing stress, so too are social bonds, relations and thresholds.’

Why we need to act

  • Current trends in population change mean that huge pressure is placed upon communities, the environment and countries as a whole, which is driving nations further into poverty (Planet Under Pressure, 2012).
  • Inequality is a key factor in peoples wellbeing, the greater the inequality the lower the reported levels of happiness and wellbeing (Graham and Felton, 2005).​