GTFS: Global Trends and Future Scenarios Index

Global Megatrend Update: Growing pressures on ecosystems


Authors’ abstract

Driven by global population growth and associated demands for food and energy, as well as evolving
consumption patterns, the pressure on the Earth’s ecosystems is continuously increasing. Despite some
positive developments, such as a recent reduction in the rates of tropical deforestation, global biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation are projected to increase.

Climate change is expected to exacerbate this trend by altering the environmental conditions to which
species are adapted. In addition, the need to shift to alternative energy sources may create challenges for
global land and freshwater resources, most notably related to increased bioenergy production.

Poor people in developing countries are expected to be those most strongly affected by the projected
degradation of ecosystems and their life-supporting services. Sustainable management of ecosystems
and socio-economic development are thus intertwined challenges. Continuing depletion of natural capital globally would not only increase pressure on European ecosystems but also produce significant indirect effects, such as environment-induced migration.