Sustainable development refers to development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is the idea that human societies must live and meet their needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development attempts to minimize greenhouse gases, reduce global warming, preserve environmental resources, and provide communities that allow people to reach their fullest potentials. The concept of sustainable development formed the basis of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The summit marked the first international attempt to draw up action plans and strategies for moving towards a more sustainable pattern of development. It was attended by over 100 Heads of State and representatives from 178 national governments.
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first woman prime minister of Norway was asked to chair a United Nations commission to address “a global agenda for change.” She came to make strong impact on the commission’s work, widely referred to as the Brundtland Commission. She developed the broad political concept of sustainable development in the course of extensive public hearings. Brundtland has become known as the “mother of sustainability” since the release of the 1987 report, Our Common Future.
Pillars of Sustainability:
The three pillars of sustainability are a powerful tool for defining the Sustainable Development problem. This consists of the Social, and Environmental, and Economic pillars.
Social Sustainability is the ability of a social system, such as a country, family, or organization, to function at a defined level of social well-being and harmony indefinitely. Problems like war, endemic poverty, widespread injustice, and low education rate are symptoms of a socially unsustainable system.
Environmental Sustainability is the ability of the environment to support a defined level of environmental quality and natural resource extraction rates indefinitely. This is the world’s biggest actual problem, though, since the consequences of not solving the problem now are delayed, the problem receives too low a priority to be solved.
Economic Sustainability is the ability of an economy to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely. Since the Great Recession of 2008, this is the world’s biggest apparent problem that endangers progress due to environmental sustainability.
Sustainable Development Goals:
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the global goals, includes 17 interlinked goals, addressing global challenges, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace, and justice. In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the SDGs intending to meet the target by 2030. The goals are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
- No Poverty – End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
- Zero Hunger – End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
- Good Health and Well-Being – Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all of all ages.
- Quality Education – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.
- Gender Equality – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
- Clean Water and Sanitation – Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
- Affordable and Clean Energy – Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all.
- Decent Work and Economic Growth – Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
- Reduced Inequalities – Reduce inequality within and among countries.
- Sustainable Cities and Communities – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
- Responsible Consumption and Production – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
- Climate Action – Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
- Life Below Water – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
- Life on Land – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
- Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
- Partnerships for the Goals – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.