We need to protect our health, our air and environment, as well as manage our waste and ageing population if we’re to thrive in the 21st century.
Air pollution is one of the biggest threats, accounting for millions of premature deaths every year. Uncontrollable levels of smog affect millions in our cities every day. Efforts to promote cleaner skies, especially in the developing world, have been sluggish. But new solutions are at hand.
Soon there will be more adults aged over 65 than children under five – the first time in our history. People are living longer and fewer are dying from infectious diseases. We need to brace ourselves for a new pandemic of chronic, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. We need new tools to deal with the elderly and the sick.
Our environment needs safeguarding. More of us now live in coastal cities, under threat from the risk of rising sea levels and storm surges brought on by climate change.
As the number of people on the planet grows, human waste is also increasingly an issue. Two-fifths of the world’s population have nowhere to go to the toilet except on open ground. We need the latest science and technology to protect us and our way of life in the decades ahead.