Millennium Development Goal 7 seeks to "ensure environmental sustainability". The term environmental sustainability refers to the integral but distinguishable environmental aspect of sustainable development. In other words, it implies meeting current human needs without destroying the environment's ability to meet those same needs in the longer term (Millennium Project Task Force on Sustainable Development and the Environment, 2005).
Millennium Development Goal 7 stands out from the other Millennium Development Goals because of the global effects of local action on some of its targets. In this connection, Latin America and the Caribbean play a special role in the world. The region provides important global ecosystem services -for example, by maintaining biodiversity and storing anhydrous carbon. This should be borne in mind in climate change negotiations. Biodiversity provides ecosystem services by regulating atmospheric contamination, regulating hydrological and climate cycles, restoring soil fertility, decomposing wastes, absorbing contaminants and pollenizing crops. It also provides resources of direct economic value, such as wood, non-wood forestry products, basic ingredients of traditional and modern medicine, and germ plasm -a source of plant varieties for agriculture- as well as cultural, scenic and tourism resources. The benefits of ensuring environmental sustainability in Latin America and the Caribbean thus go beyond the welfare of the region's inhabitants and have global importance.
Goal 7 is measured through four key targets. Target 7A can be understood based on two fully distinct components: (i) Integration of the principles of sustainable development into country policies and (ii) reversion of the loss of environmental resources. Target 7B addresses the reduction in biodiversity loss. The other two targets are related to access to water and sanitation (Target 7C) as well as life conditions in human settlements (Target 7D).