Concept and Goals of Sustainable Development
In 1980 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature introduced the term "sustainable development". Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
A primary goal of sustainable development is to achieve a reasonable and equitably distributed level of economic wellbeing that can be continued for many human generations.
In 1992, the UN Conference on Environment and Development published the Earth Charter, which outlined the building of a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. The action plan was known as ‘Agenda 21’ for sustainable development.
In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly formally adopted the "Universal, integrated and transformative" 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goals are to be implemented and achieved in every country from the year 2016 to 2030.
Countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.
For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society and people.
Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
One in five people in developing countries still live on less than $1.90 a day, many people risk slipping back into poverty. Economic growth must be inclusive to provide sustainable jobs and promote equality.
Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries can provide nutritious food for all and generate decent incomes, while supporting people-centred rural development and protecting the environment. A profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed if we are to nourish today’s 815 million hungry and the additional 2 billion people expected by 2050.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
Significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality. Major progress has been made on increasing access to clean water and sanitation, reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
Major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. For example, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
Goal 6: Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
Clean, accessible water for all is an essential part of the world we want to live in. There is sufficient fresh water on the planet to achieve this. But due to bad economics or poor infrastructure, every year millions of people, most of them children, die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene. By 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.
Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Sustainable energy is opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet.
Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment. Job opportunities and decent working conditions are also required for the whole working age population.
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Inclusive and sustainable industrial development is the primary source of income generation, allows for rapid and sustained increases in living standards for all people, and provides the technological solutions to environmentally sound industrialization.
Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries
To reduce inequality, policies should be universal in principle paying attention to the needs of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically Common urban challenges include congestion, lack of funds to provide basic services, a shortage of adequate housing and declining infrastructure.
Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Sustainable consumption and production is about promoting resource and energy efficiency, sustainable infrastructure, and providing access to basic services, green and decent jobs and a better quality of life for all. Its implementation helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty.
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and may be even more tomorrow.
Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
The world’s oceans – their temperature, currents and life – drive global systems that make the earth habitable for humankind. Careful management of this essential global resource is a key feature of a sustainable future.
Goal 15: Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
Forests cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface and in addition to providing food security and shelter, forests are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population. Thirteen million hectares of forests are being lost every year while the persistent degradation of dry lands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares.
Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
This Goal is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building effective, accountable institutions at all levels.
Goal 17: Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society. These inclusive partnerships built upon principles and values, a shared vision, and shared goals that place people and the planet at the centre, are needed at the global, regional, national and local level.
To address climate change, countries adopted the Paris Agreement at the COP21 in Paris on 12 December 2015. The Agreement entered into force shortly thereafter, on 4 November 2016. In the agreement, all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C, and given the grave risks, to strive for 1.5°C.