What will the world look like in 2030?


The third decade of the 21st century has begun and the environmental challenges we have ahead of us, set out in the UN's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, are many. What will the world look like in 2030? This global plan of action adopted in 2015 puts forward specific measures to achieve a world that is fairer, more prosperous and more respectful of the environment within ten years. In this regard, the UN itself warns that we are running late, and the question now is whether we still have time to save the planet.

Below, we sum up some of the main global environmental problems which the UN says we must resolve by 2030 in this decade:

Global warming due to CO2 emissions — which according to the UN have increased by almost 50% since 1990 — is accelerating climate change and threatens the survival of millions of people, plants and animals by causing meteorological events like droughts, fires and floods, which are becoming increasingly frequent and more extreme. This means we need to take measures to mitigate its effects and adapt to its consequences which, even if we keep global warming under 2 ºC as required by the Paris Agreements, will last for centuries.

 The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 90% of humanity breathes polluted air, so is calling for a reduction in air pollution to cut rates of respiratory illnesses, thus preventing seven million deaths a year. Contaminated water also causes major health problems and five million deaths a year according to Oxfam Intermón. The UN advocates eliminating dumping, minimising the use of chemicals and treating more wastewater, among other measures.

 The oceans have become the giant waste dumps for plastic. What's more, there are other serious environmental problems related to the oceans such as damage to ecosystems due to global warming, dumping of pollutants, wastewater and fuel spills. The UN calls for improved management of protected areas, giving them sufficient resources, and reducing overfishing, pollution and acidification of the ocean caused by the increase in the earth's temperature.

 While energy accounts for 60% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the UN calculates that 13% of the world population lacks access to electricity and that 3 billion people depend on fossil fuels for cooking. This situation requires an energy transition towards a cleaner, more accessible and efficient model based on the use of renewable energy sources to build communities that are more sustainable, inclusive and resistant to environmental problems like climate change.

At present, 22% of animal species are at risk of extinction.

5 billion people will live in cities by 2030.

Waste management, including of technological waste, will be a key issue.

The overexploitation of natural resources puts valuable habitats at risk.

Water is vital to species survival and water scarcity already affects millions of people.



 Intensive food production harms the environment by depleting the soil and damaging marine ecosystems. What's more, overexploitation of natural resources has put food safety ​​​​​​​ and the availability of drinking water at risk. The UN considers it essential to change the food production model and our food habits, including a more plant-based diet featuring local ingredients to save energy and reduce CO2 emissions.

 We have already lost 8% of known animal species and 22% are at risk of extinction due mainly to the destruction of their natural habitats, poaching and the introduction of invasive species. The UN has called for conclusive actions to put an end to these threats and conserve our natural heritage, including our increasingly threatened forests.

 The growth of cities, which will need to accommodate around 5 billion people by 2030, will be another of the decade's big environmental challenges. The metropolises of the future will need to be compact, safe, inclusive, ecological and energy efficient, with more green spaces, more environmentally friendly buildings and more sustainable methods of transport which put the needs of pedestrians above those of traffic.

Some positive projections for the year 2030

In 2030, the world is expected to have made significant progress in addressing various environmental challenges. Here is a description of how the world might look like in 2030 based on the key areas you mentioned:

1. Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: By 2030, countries are likely to have implemented more aggressive climate change mitigation strategies, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources, reducing carbon emissions, and investing in sustainable technologies to adapt to the changing climate.

2. Pollution Problems and their Effect on Health: Efforts to reduce pollution in the air, water, and soil are expected to have intensified by 2030, leading to improved public health outcomes and a cleaner environment for future generations.

3. Protecting the Oceans: In 2030, measures to protect marine ecosystems, combat overfishing, reduce plastic pollution, and preserve biodiversity in the oceans are likely to be more robust, driven by international cooperation and conservation initiatives.

4. The Energy Transition and Renewables: The energy landscape in 2030 is projected to see a significant shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, as countries strive to achieve carbon neutrality and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

5. Protecting Biodiversity: Efforts to safeguard biodiversity and protect endangered species are expected to be prioritized in 2030, with increased conservation efforts, habitat restoration, and sustainable land management practices to preserve natural ecosystems.

6. Sustainable Urban Development and Mobility: By 2030, cities around the world are likely to have implemented sustainable urban planning strategies, improved public transportation systems, integrated smart technologies, and green infrastructure to create more livable and environmentally friendly urban spaces.

Overall, the world in 2030 is envisioned to be more sustainable, resilient, and environmentally conscious, with a focus on preserving the planet for future generations.

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What will the world look like in 2030?