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Ahead of Rio +20 summit, UN sounds environmental alarm (+video)

A UN report released ahead of an environmental summit in Brazil warns that overpopulation, urbanization, and consumption pose grave threats to the Earth's biosphere.

To promote next June's Rio+20 conference and the need for sustainable development, the United Nations launched a campaign engaging people in a global conversation on the kind of communities they would like to live in twenty years from now.
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Population growth, urbanization and consumption are set to inflict irreversible damage on the planet, the United Nations said on Wednesday, and called for urgent agreement on new environmental targets at an Earth summit this month.

The U.N. Environment Programme sounded the alarm in its fifth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-5) report, published two weeks before the Rio+20 summit in Brazil, one of the biggest environmental meetings in years.

The June 20-22 meeting is expected to attract more than 50,000 participants from governments, companies and environmental and lobby groups and will attempt to set new goals across seven core themes including food security, water and energy.

The GEO-5 report, three years in the making and the United Nations' main health-check of the planet, urges governments to create more ambitious targets or toughen existing ones, most of which have failed to deliver.

Time was running short, U.N. Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, as the planet heads for 9 billion people by 2050 and the global economy consumes ever larger amounts of natural resources.

"If current trends continue, if current patterns of production and consumption of natural resources prevail and cannot be reversed and 'decoupled', then governments will preside over unprecedented levels of damage and degradation," Steiner said in a statement.

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