The effects of population and economic growth on the environment depend on a huge number of complex factors. The most important are the quantity or the amount of materials withdrawn from the nature, the efficiency with which they are transformed into goods and modified into services, and the environmental impacts of their use and disposal. If an economy becomes more efficient or it shifts towards products or services with lower impact, the environmental effects of a given level of activity can be reduced, while living standards increase.
Most of the major challenges set are more complex, with the negative conditions in the environment a result of the actions of a large number of people. The interdependence of a healthy and wealthy environment and a sound economy is a concept now more clearly understood, and future approaches will need to be based on a more sophisticated integration of regulatory, economic and persuasive approaches. Change will also need to be managed in an inclusive manner. Many positive actions in this direction are already executed at all levels of the community.