That is the sobering conclusion of a major new United Nations report prepared by almost 400 scientists.

Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development said that although political attention to environmental issues is increasing, this has not translated into significant process on climate change, loss of biodiversity and other problems threatening the planet.

“The fact that we are in the year 2007, with all the knowledge that we have and with all the capacity to do things differently, to present to the world at this point a report that essentially says that our response has been woefully inadequate is a very sobering realisation,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

He added that climate change and the destruction caused by forest fires and floods demonstrated “the cost of humanity trying to cope with the scale of environmental impacts”.

The report highlighted a number of persistent problems, such as the decline of fish stocks, loss of fertile land degradation, unsustainable pressure on resources, and dwindling fresh water reserves.

Scientists behind the report argued that the future will be largely determined by the decisions individuals and society make now.

The report said: “Our common future depends on our actions today, not tomorrow or sometime in the future.”

Commenting on the report, John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “This report is a stark call for real action.

“Politicians must not only read this report, they must also act. To tackle the greatest problems facing the world today, they must put sustainability at the heart of their policies.

“It is the only way to improve global life expectancy and income inequality, beat climate change, reduce deforestation and protect biodiversity.”

Kate Martin

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