Can 2015 be the Year of Sustainable Development?

Prof. Jeffrey Sachs from the Earth Institute at Columbia University thinks so

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What events should take place in order to consider 2015 as the Year of Sustainable Development? How about a meeting of the world leaders to chart reforms of the global financial system? Or a meeting again to approve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide national and global policies to 2030. Definitely an assembly to “adopt a global agreement to head off the growing dangers of human-induced climate change” would seal the deal. All of these events are taking place between July and December of this coming year.

According to United Nations in its latest Synthesis Report of the Secretary-General On the Post-2015 Agenda, “We are on the threshold of the most important year of development since the founding of the United Nations itself.” This reported has been titled “Road to Dignity” in reference of the Organization’s promise “to reaffirm faith in the dignity and worth of the human person”. Eradicating poverty by 2030 is the overarching objective of the sustainable development agenda. In this regard, 17 target areas have already been agreed by a committee of the UN General Assembly:

  • Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2 End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3 Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6 Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7 Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8 Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10 Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11 Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12 Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • Goal 14 Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15 Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16 Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17 Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

In a recent article in Project Syndicate Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, and Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, explains why does the approval of the Sustainable Development Goals offer such an unique opportunity:

The SDGs can create a path toward economic development that is technologically advanced, socially fair, and environmentally sustainable. Agreements at next year’s three summits will not guarantee the success of sustainable development, but they can certainly orient the global economy in the right direction. The chance will not come along again in our generation.


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