The OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 asks “What could the next four decades bring?” Based on joint modeling by the OECD and the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. It looks forward to the year 2050 to determine what demographic and economic trends might mean for the environment if humanity does not introduce more ambitious policies to manage natural assets with greater care. It then examines some of the policies that could change that picture for the better. This Outlook focuses on four areas: climate change, biodiversity as well as water and the health impacts of pollution. These four key environmental challenges were identified by the previous Environmental Outlook to 2030 as “Red light” issues requiring urgent attention. It concludes that the prospects are more alarming than the situation described in the previous edition, and that urgent – and holistic – action is needed now to avoid the significant costs and consequences of inaction.

By 2050, the Earth’s population is expected to increase from 7 billion to over 9 billion people and global GDP is projected to almost quadruple. In the coming decades, average GDP growth rates are projected to slow gradually in China and India. While Africa will remain the poorest continent, it is likely to see the world’s highest economic growth rate between 2030 and 2050. The populations of OECD countries are expected to live longer, with over a quarter of their people projected to be over 65 years of age compared to about 15% today. China and India are also likely to see significant population ageing, with China’s workforce actually shrinking by 2050.

These demographic shifts and higher living standards imply evolving lifestyles, consumption patterns and dietary preferences, all of which will have significant consequences for the environment. By 2050, nearly 70% of the world population is projected to be living in urban areas. This will magnify challenges such as air pollution, transport congestion, and the management of waste and water in slums, with serious consequences for human health. Without new policy action, a world economy four times larger than today is projected to use about 80% more energy in 2050. The share of fossil energy would remain at about 85%. The emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia, China and South Africa are projected to become major energy users. To feed a growing population with changing dietary preferences, agricultural land is projected to expand globally in the next decade to match the increase in food demand,but at a diminishing rate


According to the outlook the policies that are crucial are: Make pollution expensive business Economic instruments; Such as environmental taxes and emissions trading schemes put a price on pollution and make activities that damage the environment more costly than greener alternatives; Remove environmentally harmful subsidies; Many environmentally harmful activities are subsidised by taxpayers. Many countries, for instance, still subsidise fossil fuel production or consumption to some degree. Encourage innovation; Pricing and market-based instruments can provide incentives to encourage innovation in pollution-reducing and resource saving technologies. But other measures are also needed, such as specific R&D support policies, standards, regulations and voluntary programmes to encourage innovation, as well as effective mechanisms for green technology transfer to developing countries. But innovation is not only about technologies. Policy innovation by governments, business and social organisations is also needed to spread greener production and consumption. Gear up international co-operation; As many of the environmental problems are global in nature (e.g. biodiversity loss and climate change) or linked to the trans boundary effects of economic globalisation (e.g. trade, international investment), international co-operation at all levels (bilateral, regional, and multilateral) is indispensable to ensure an equitable sharing of the cost of action.

Israel as a leader in innovation may be a significant factor in the wake of the need in many countries there is a significant finding new technologies. Water is not Israel’s only scarce resource. Israel has always placed great emphasis on maximizing its water supply, famously turning much of its arid land into fertile agricultural soil.

For example, the Ministry of Economy officials visited China last week and during their visit Mr. Amit Lang, the new Director General of the Ministry, signed a cooperation agreement on water supply technologies. The Agreement was signed with the Deputy Mayor of Shanghai, a city that provides water to 23 million people. This is an evidence of trust  expressed by many markets around the world to Israeli technology. 

Israeli water industry offers a range of solutions from planning, management to advanced technologies, and is considered groundbreaking in various fields of water management. Secretary General of the OECD, Angel Gurria, said during his last visit to Israel last year that “the water crisis is gaining momentum and demand for water rises much faster population growth. The OECD is looking for knowledge, experience and professionalism. The transfer of knowledge will solve the water crisis – and Israel can be a leading partner in that”.

The OECD and the Ministry of economy will hold a joint conference on innovative water technologies- bringing smart water everywhere. For more details: International Conference on Water.

External links:

OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050


Israel New-Tech