At Progressio we work a lot with the people at the sharp end of climate change and environmental damage - for example, for small scale food producers unpredictable extreme weather or degrading ecosystems mean that crops are harder to grow, and livelihoods more vulnerable. For them, the importance of taking care of the environment is clear.

But what is the picture on a global scale, when all the evidence is weighed up? What are scientists saying about the pressures on the planet? Are they worried or relaxed?

The best thing to do was to ask an expert. The UK recently hosted the "Planet under Pressure" conference - a gathering of some of the world's top environmental scientists, who came together to draw up a picture of the challenges faced. We asked Dr Mike Edwards, a climate change expert who organised one of the sessions at the conference, to summarise the evidence and prepare a briefing for us.

What he tells us doesn't make for easy reading, but it's important to know what we are up against. Why not take a look?

Download Our planet and its people: What scientists are saying about the threats to a sustainable future by Dr Michael Edwards (400k PDF)

Tim Aldred is Head of Policy and Communications at Progressio

Photo: Leonard Moyo, a small scale farmer near Lupane, Zimbabwe. Progressio partner organisation Environment Africa has helped Leonard grow his way out of poverty. He told us:

“In 2004 there was a project where we were given some seeds, sorghum variety 2, millet and cowpeas. They were drought resistant. The seeds survived and I replanted. I got 2 tonnes of sorghum the first year. I sold it, and I made enough to buy a cow. My cow had 6 calves since then. I bought a TV, a satellite dish and some sofas. I’m rich now! I would say it pays to work hard and follow what you get taught. You can get good results. I’m poor, so I have to work very hard to get something."

(Photo © Macpherson Photography/Progressio)