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Enormous improvements in human welfare have taken place over the past two centuries, but these have been unevenly distributed and have come at a lasting cost of degradation of our natural environment. At the same time, we cannot stop the engines of growth, because much more economic progress is still needed in order for people in developing countries to have a decent living. But using the traditional environmentally irresponsible development paths is no longer defensible. To meet both the objectives of conquering poverty and protecting the environment, the World Economic and Social Survey 2011 calls for a complete transformation of technology on which human economic activity is based.
The "great green technological transformation" that the Survey champions will have to be completed in the next 30 to 40 years, that is, twice as fast as it took to accomplish previous major technological transitions. Because of the limited time frame, Governments will need to play a much more active and stimulating role to accelerate the green energy transformation. The Survey details new policy directions and major investments in developing and scaling up clean energy technologies, sustainable farming and forestry techniques, climate proofing of infrastructure and reducing non-bio-degradable waste production.