A recent report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report reveals that the health of our ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health, and quality of life worldwide. At this point, scientists believe that ecosystems untouched by human interventions no longer exist. Human civilization and technology have permanently altered our planet and some of the most tangible impacts include imploding population numbers, deforestation, pollution (air, water, soil, and industrial), ocean acidification, climate change, and invasive alien species. Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. As the world continues to urbanize, sustainable development depends increasingly on the successful management of urban growth, especially in low-income and lower-middle-income countries where the pace of urbanization is projected to be the fastest. Many countries will face challenges in meeting the needs of their growing urban populations, including for housing, transportation, energy systems and other infrastructure, integrated with some basic services. It is crucial for us to realize that our urban systems must now become self-sustainable ecosystems.
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