Nations Are Overusing Natural Resources Faster Than They Are Meeting Basic Human Needs


For at least the last 30 years, not a single country has met the basic needs of its residents without overconsuming natural resources, according to new research led by the University of Leeds.

If current trends continue, no country will do so over the next three decades either, perpetuating human deprivation and worsening ecological breakdown. The study, published in Nature Sustainability, is the first to track nations’ progress in terms of both meeting basic needs and respecting environmental limits in 148 countries since 1992, with projections to 2050 based on recent trends.

The country-level findings for social and environmental performance are available through an interactive website built by the researchers involved in the study. The research team found that without urgent changes, national economies will continue to drive ecological breakdown, while delivering slow and insufficient improvements in living standards.

Wealthy countries like the US, UK, and Canada are transgressing planetary boundaries linked to climate and ecological breakdown, yet achieving minimal social gains. Poorer countries like Bangladesh, Malawi, and Sri Lanka are living within planetary boundaries, but still falling short on meeting many basic human needs.

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