The world's landscapes provide much of what humanity needs, from food and clean water to natural resources that drive global economy. Roughly US$44 trillion (S$62 trillion) of economic output - more than half of global annual GDP - is moderately or highly reliant on nature, a landmark report by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said recently. Yet it found that intensive agriculture, deforestation, mining and pollution have degraded up to 40 per cent of the planet's land surface, throwing into question how humanity will grow enough food in the future, especially when faced with the worsening, and related, crises of climate change and loss of biodiversity.
The UNCCD report is a timely reminder that the Earth has finite resources and that mankind is taking those resources faster than nature can replace them. At present, humanity is consuming about 1.7 Earths a year, an unsustainable rate that has been worsening since 1970, according to Earth Overshoot Day.