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What are Sustainable Development Goals?

What are Sustainable Development Goals?


  • ‘Sustainable development is the development that meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.

Sustainable Development—A Broader Term

  • 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 environment. It is also about ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.
  • This means meeting the diverse needs of all the people in the existing and future communities, promoting personal well-being, social cohesion and inclusion and creating equal opportunity.

Sustainable Development—Better Way of Doing Things

  • 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.

History of Sustainable Development

  • The concept of sustainable development that formed the basis of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was 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.
  • Sustainable development was the solution to the problems of environmental degradation discussed by the Brundtland Commission in the 1987 report, ‘Our Common Future.
  • The remit of the Brundtland Report was to investigate numerous concerns that had been raised in previous decades, namely, human activity was having severe and negative impacts on our planet and patterns of growth and development would be unsustainable, if they continued unchecked.
  • Key works that highlighted this thinking included Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), Garret Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons (1968), A Blueprint for Survival (1972) by The Ecologist magazine and Limits to Growth (1972), a report by ‘The Club of Rome’.
  • The concept of sustainable development received its first major international recognition in 1972 at the UN Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm.
  • The term was not referred to explicitly, but nevertheless, the international community agreed to the notion—now fundamental to sustainable development—that both development and the environment, earlier addressed as separate issues, could be managed in a mutually beneficial way.
  • The term was popularised 15 years later in ‘Our Common Future’, the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), which included what is deemed the ‘classic’ definition of sustainable development: ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.            What are Sustainable Development Goals?
  • It was not until the Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Summit (Earth Summit, 1992), the major world leaders recognised sustainable development as the major challenge.
  • The Rio+20 Summit was held in 2012 at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to review the progress made on sustainable development.                  What are Sustainable Development Goals?

What  Are Sustainable Development Goals?

  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the ‘global goals, are a universal call to end poverty, protect our planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.
  • These 17 goals were built on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice among other priorities.                  What are Sustainable Development Goals?
  • These goals have the target year of 2030. The goals are interconnected—often the key to success on one goal involves issues associated with another goal.
  • The SDGs provide clear guidelines and targets for all the countries in accordance with their own priorities and the environmental challenges of the world at large.          What are Sustainable Development Goals?

How Did SDGs Come into Picture?

  • The SDGs were born at the UNCED in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The objective was to produce a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.
  • The SDGs replace the MDGs. The MDGs were introduced in the year 2000 with the target year of 2015.
  • The MDGs established measurable, universally-agreed objectives for tackling extreme poverty and hunger, preventing deadly diseases and expanding primary education to all children, among other development priorities.
  • For 15 years, the MDGs drove progress in several important areas: Reducing poverty, providing much needed access to water and sanitation, driving down child mortality and drastically improving maternal health.
  • They also kick-started a global movement for free primary education and for inspiring countries to invest in their future generations.                What are Sustainable Development Goals?
  • Most significantly, the MDGs made huge strides in combating HIV/ AIDS and other treatable diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.              What are Sustainable Development Goals?


Environment & Biodiversity

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