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Box 1.1: Concept of Well-being


Human well-being is assumed to have multiple constituents, including: v the basic material for a good life, such as secure and adequate livelihoods, v enough food at all times, shelter, clothing, and access to goods; v health, including feeling well and having a healthy physical environment, such as clean air and access to clean water; good social relations, including social cohesion, mutual respect, and the ability to help others and provide for children;


v security, including secure access to natural and other resources, personal safety, and security from natural and human-made disasters; and freedom of choice and action, including the opportunity to achieve what an individual values doing and being.


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Freedom of choice and action is influenced by other constituents of well-being (as well as by other factors, notably education) and is also a precondition for achieving other components of well-being, particularly with respect to equity and fairness.


Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005


Additionally, GEO-6 attempts to further strengthen understanding of the macro perspective of socio-ecological systems (including economics), and also to use a more people- centred approach (UNEP 2016a). GEO-6 underlines that people are part of ecosystems and depend on them, emphasizing the importance of conserving nature not only for its intrinsic value, but also because it is crucial for the well-being of humanity. Such an approach is urgently needed to help address the vulnerability and different conditions and capabilities enabling people to react to hazards and disruptions in daily life (resilience) (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). With this knowledge, it is hoped that people will be encouraged to respond to the challenge by changing their behaviour as citizens, consumers, voters, politicians, religious leaders and business leaders (UNEP 2016b).


GEO-6 highlights an updated understanding of the relationship between the environment and the economy, which is a foundation of the people-centred approach. This emphasizes nature’s contribution to people, the environmental functions that support human well-being (including the benefits of environmental investments, innovations and technologies), as well as the high costs of inaction, business as usual, and stranded assets.


Furthermore, this perspective within GEO-6 helps to better inform future policy decisions by addressing complex distributional impacts and conflicts as the new baseline to design sustainable development policies and governance systems associated with implementation of the 2030 Agenda (World Bank 2016b). Creating such knowledge and its evidence base through this assessment will help to better communicate possible policies, actions and investments that could be used by governments, as well as other stakeholders and citizens, to address current and future development challenges, as well as to explain the benefits of taking such actions. How this perspective is integrated into the GEO-6 assessment is further explained in Section 1.7.


1.3 GEO-6 in a changing global context


The world is facing a wide range of economic, social, cultural and political/military security challenges (World Economic Forum 2017). Despite significant global progress in economic development and poverty reduction in some regions, a large portion of the population in many areas suffers from poverty or extreme poverty, and many people who are not impoverished are still concerned about economic security and future life opportunities. Some areas are experiencing social friction,


08 Setting the Stage


growing inequality, poor governance, cultural erosion, reactions against globalization, political instability, large numbers of refugees, large-scale migration and violent conflicts due to these economic and social insecurities, injustices and corruption.


Many of these global economic, social and political/military security challenges are related to the environment in terms of causes, impacts and possible solutions. Moreover, recent scientific concepts of environmental safeguards for society, f or example planetary boundaries (Rockström et al. 2009; Steffen et al. 2011; Steffen et al. 2015), explain that the environment is the foundation for human life on Earth. Current methods of generating material prosperity have undermined ecosystem health and caused massive environmental damage, crossing several of these planetary boundaries, to the point where the development of human societies and the ‘safe operating space’ for human life on Earth is at risk. In this planetary boundaries framework, environmental problems are considered to be inherent systemic problems of humans’ deep-rooted transformation of nature and ongoing cultural dynamics, and are not seen only as collateral damage of societal development (Steffen 2000). Biodiversity is also critical for human well-being (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity [CBD] 2014), as are ecosystem services more broadly (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005).


Clearly, the functions of environmental policy have expanded, and it now contributes to political/military security, economic and social policy and other development activities. Likewise, these other policy areas also have a major influence on the state of the environment. A key implication of these interlinkages is the need for an integrated approach to address environmental, economic and social problems holistically (United Nations 2015b; Jetzkowitz et al. 2018). GEO-6 aims to integrate the linkages between the environment, social and economic security, global justice and human well-being, to promote a new framework for sustainability to be an integral part of all aspects of global, regional and national development (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] 2014a; Lehmann et al. 2015; UNEP 2016a; UNESCO 2016).


1.3.1 Environmental and economic challenges and opportunities


The environment is closely related, in both positive and negative ways, to key economic issues such as poverty, prosperity, jobs, production patterns, innovation, and resource availability/scarcity. On one hand, the economy is a major


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