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Code red: UN calls for urgent shift to planet-friendly development

BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Under huge pressure from COVID-19, climate change and natural destruction, warning lights for the planet and societies are “flashing red” – and now is the time to choose a safer, fairer path for human development, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

“We are at an unprecedented moment in the history of humankind and in the history of our planet,” it said in a report, urging efforts by governments, business and citizens to pursue a new kind of progress that protects the environment.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is the latest harrowing consequence of imbalances writ large,” said the Human Development Report 2020, adding that the health catastrophe comes on top of pre-existing crises of global warming, species loss and inequality.

The report, which for the first time used a new global index factoring in environmental indicators, concluded that no country had yet been able to achieve a very high level of development without putting strain on natural resources.

“Many countries have achieved a great deal of progress but they also have done so at the expense of great damage to the planet,” said Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which produces the repor