Supporting the long-term ecological balance of our planet is fundamental to the survival of the human species and other living organisms. Over the past few years, a number of initiatives have made a real impact. According to U.N. 2012 estimates, the consumption of ozone-depleting substances was reduced by over 98% since the adoption of the Montreal Protocol. Protected ecosystems now cover 14% of land and coastal marine areas worldwide. 2.3 billion people gained sustainable access to clean drinking water since 1990. Nonetheless, resolute actions are still needed on many fronts. Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased by more than 50% since 1990. In spite of afforestation initiatives, 5.2 million hectares of forest were lost annually (average net loss) between 2000 and 2010. "Ensuring Environmental Sustainability" is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.
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