"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
- What is sustainable development?
- What are sustainable development goals?
- United Nations Division for Sustainable Development
The concept of sustainable development can be interpreted in many different ways, but at its core is an approach to development that looks to balance different, and often competing, needs against an awareness of the environmental, social and economic limitations we face as a society.
All too often, development is driven by one particular need, without fully considering the wider or future impacts. We are already seeing the damage this kind of approach can cause, from large-scale financial crises caused by irresponsible banking, to changes in global climate resulting from our dependence on fossil fuel-based energy sources. The longer we pursue unsustainable development, the more frequent and severe its consequences are likely to become, which is why we need to take action now.
So is it all just about the environment?
Living within our environmental limits is one of the central principles of sustainable development. One implication of not doing so is climate change.
But the focus of sustainable development is far broader than just the environment. It's also about ensuring a strong, healthy and just society. This means meeting the diverse needs of all people in existing and future communities, promoting personal wellbeing, social cohesion and inclusion, and creating equal opportunity.
If sustainable development focuses on the future, does that mean we lose out now?
Not necessarily. Sustainable development is about finding better ways of doing things, both for the future and the present. We might need to change the way we work and live now, but this doesn't mean our quality of life will be reduced.
A sustainable development approach can bring many benefits in the short to medium term, for example:
Savings - As a result of SDC scrutiny, government has saved over £60m by improving efficiency across its estate.
Health & Transport - Instead of driving, switching to walking or cycling for short journeys will save you money, improve your health and is often just as quick and convenient.
How does it affect me?
The way we approach development affects everyone. The impacts of our decisions as a society have very real consequences for people's lives. Poor planning of communities, for example, reduces the quality of life for the people who live in them. (Relying on imports rather than growing food locally puts the UK at risk of food shortages.)
Sustainable development provides an approach to making better decisions on the issues that affect all of our lives. By incorporating health plans into the planning of new communities, for instance, we can ensure that residents have easy access to healthcare and leisure facilities. (By encouraging more sustainable food supply chains, we can ensure the UK has enough food for the long-term future.)
How do we make it happen?
We all have a part to play. Small actions, taken collectively, can add up to real change. However, to achieve sustainability in the UK, we believe the Government needs to take the lead. The SDC's job is to help make this happen, and we do it through a mixture of scrutiny, advice and building organisational capacity for sustainable development.
What is sustainable development · Sustainable Development ...
What is sustainable development "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to ...
What are sustainable development goals?
In 2015, the millennium development goals – launched in 2000 to make global progress on poverty, education, health, hunger and the environment – has expired.
The sustainable development goals (SDGs) are a new, universal set of goals, targets and indicators that UN member states will be expected to use to frame their agendas and political policies over the next 15 years to 2030.
The SDGs follow and expand on the millennium development goals (MDGs), which were agreed by governments in 2001 and were due to expire at the end of 2015.
Why do we need another set of goals?
There is broad agreement that, while the MDGs provided a focal point for governments – a framework around which they could develop policies and overseas aid programmes designed to end poverty and improve the lives of poor people – as well as a rallying point for NGOs to hold them to account, they were too narrow.
The eight MDGs – reduce poverty and hunger; achieve universal education; promote gender equality; reduce child and maternal deaths; combat HIV, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; develop global partnerships – failed to consider the root causes of poverty and overlooked gender inequality as well as the holistic nature of development. The goals made no mention of human rights and did not specifically address economic development. While the MDGs, in theory, applied to all countries, in reality they were considered targets for poor countries to achieve, with finance from wealthy states. Conversely, every country will be expected to work towards achieving the SDGs.
As the MDG deadline approaches, about 1 billion people still live on less than $1.25 a day – the World Bank measure on poverty – and more than 800 million people do not have enough food to eat. Women are still fighting hard for their rights, and millions of women still die in childbirth.
What are the proposed 17 goals?
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation
- Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (taking note of agreements made by the UNFCCC forum)
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
- Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
- Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development Within the goals are 169 targets, to put a bit of meat on the bones. Targets under goal one, for example, include reducing by at least half the number of people living in poverty by 2030, and eradicating extreme poverty (people living on less than $1.25 a day). Under goal five, there’s a target on eliminating violence against women, while goal 16 has a target to promote the rule of law and equal access to justice.
How were the goals chosen?
Unlike the MDGs, which were drawn up by a group of men in the basement of UN headquarters (or so the legend goes), the UN has conducted the largest consultation programme in its history to gauge opinion on what the SDGs should include.
Establishing post-2015 goals was an outcome of the Rio+20 summit in 2012, which mandated the creation of an open working group to come up with a draft agenda.
The open working group, with representatives from 70 countries, had its first meeting in March 2013 and published its final draft, with its 17 suggestions, in July 2014. The draft was presented to the UN general assembly in September last year. Member state negotiations followed, and the final wording of the goals and targets, and the preamble and declaration that comes with them, were agreed in August 2015.
Alongside the open working group discussions, the UN conducted a series of “global conversations”. These included 11 thematic and 83 national consultations, and door-to-door surveys. The UN also launched an online My World survey asking people to prioritise the areas they’d like to see addressed in the goals. The results of the consultations were fed into the working group’s discussions.
Are governments happy about the proposed 17 goals?
The majority seem to be, but a handful of member states, including the UK and Japan, aren’t so keen. Some countries feel that an agenda consisting of 17 goals is too unwieldy to implement or sell to the public, and would prefer a narrower brief. Or so they say. Some believe the underlying reason is to get rid of some of the more uncomfortable goals, such as those relating to the environment. Some NGOs also believe there are too many goals, but there is a general consensus that it is better to have 17 goals that include targets on women’s empowerment, good governance, and peace and security, for example, than fewer goals that don’t address these issues
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016 - UNSD
Foreword On 1 January 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the transformative plan of action based on 17 ...
The Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) seeks to provide leadership and catalyse action in promoting and coordinating implementation of internationally agreed development goals, including the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among other mandates, it hosts the secretariat for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), the central platform within the United Nations system for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by Heads of State and Governments in September 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a new plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, with 17 SDGs and 169 associated targets at its core.
The work of the Division translates into six core functions: (1) Support to UN intergovernmental processes on sustainable development; (2) Analysis and policy development; (3) Capacity development at the request of Member States; (4) Inter-agency coordination; and (5) stakeholder engagement, partnerships, communication and outreach; and (6) Knowledge management.
In addition, the Division houses the SIDS Unit mandated to undertake the above-mentioned core functions in support of the further implementation of the SAMOA Pathway, the Mauritius Strategy for the further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.