Sustainable Development is a vision of the future where people live in harmony with nature. It is the goal of preserving resources and ecosystem services for generations to come while also developing a strong economy. This includes limiting the rate of growth in population, reducing the waste generated by society and ensuring the environment is not overstrained.
In 1987, the Brundtland Report on Our Common Future defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainable development seeks to reconcile economic growth with the protection of social and environmental balance.
One of the main challenges in achieving Sustainable Development is that many countries are not yet enacting coherent policies for their own societies. This creates a roadblock to progress that needs to be overcome through partnerships and collaboration.
The United Nations has outlined 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are designed to address global challenges from poverty, hunger and climate change to peace, justice and strong institutions. However, despite progress made in implementing the goals over the past few years, many nations are still not on track to reach them by 2030.
With a decade left until the end of the Goals, the UN calls on world leaders to commit to an ambitious Decade of Action and Delivery. This will bolster leadership, secure more funding and provide smarter solutions to meet the Goals.
Investing in the Sustainable Development Goals requires strategic and collaborative action by all stakeholders, especially governments and business. This includes establishing and implementing clear policies and regulations, and engaging stakeholders such as youth and civil society groups in a concerted effort to accelerate progress on the SDGs.
Achieving the SDGs requires major transformations that will need to be embedded in policy, budget, institutions and regulation at both the national and local levels. This will require a broad range of actions by all sectors of society including youth, civil society, the private sector, media, and academia to build an unstoppable movement that will drive the required changes.
Access to affordable, reliable, clean and modern energy is a key priority for the Sustainable Development Goals. More than 1.2 billion people do not have access to electricity, which has a profound impact on the world’s overall development. In addition, energy is a major contributor to climate change and other environmental problems such as air pollution, land degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.
We can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by weaning ourselves off fossil fuels and reducing our carbon footprint. We can take small but meaningful actions such as switching to a “green power” electricity source, taking public transportation, and eating food that uses less energy in production.
Increasing the use of renewable energy is another important strategy to ensure that the world continues to thrive while protecting the planet. This means utilizing sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power to replace fossil fuels.
Several of the Sustainable Development Goals are tied to the environment and biodiversity, so it is critical that businesses incorporate these elements into their corporate responsibility and sustainability programs. This can include minimizing their impact on the environment through product design, procurement, and supply chain management. It can also involve donating to organizations that help remove the influence of fossil fuel lobbyists and promote more environmentally friendly products and services.