Most of humanity’s problems, such as global warming, resource depletion, inequality, and poverty, can only be tackled on a massive level and via the promotion of sustainable development.
The first definition of sustainable development was presented in the Brundtland report- Our Common Future, published by the United Nations in 1987, which cautioned against the detrimental environmental repercussions of economic expansion and globalization and attempted to propose potential solutions to the difficulties created by industrialization and population increase.
In an effort to make sustainability viable, the United Nations approved the 2030 Agenda as part of a new sustainable development blueprint, which includes the Sustainable Development Goals, a statement of intent to safeguard the planet and ensure the well-being of people.
Individuals, corporations, governments, and nations all across the world must work together to achieve these common goals. To attain these aims, every segment of society – administration, industry, university, and non – governmental organizations – must work together.
The 17 goals of the Sustainable Development Goals are as follows:
End poverty in all its forms everywhere
End hunger, improve food security and nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
Ensure healthy lifestyles and promote well-being for all ages
Ensure quality education and opportunities for lifelong learning for all.
Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work.
Built resilient infrastructure, promoted inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostered innovation.
Reduce inequalities within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production pattern
Take urgent actions to combat climate change and its impact
Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources
Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
There are 239 indicators that monitor the 17 goals and 169 targets of the SDGs. Here is a complete summary of the global indicator framework.
Source: 17 Sustainable Development Goals as proposed by the United Nations
Three-Pillar Model for Sustainable Development
The SDGs are categorized into three pillars to make sustainability more viable: economic, environmental, and social sustainability.
1. Environmental Sustainability
SDGs for the environment protect nature from being exploited as an infinite supply of resources to maximize its conservation and sustainable usage. Protecting the environment from more degradation and negligence is extremely important for companies. Corporations play a critical role in moving from resource extraction to ecological restoration, which is the cornerstone of long-term prosperity.
Nature conservation, deployment of renewable energies, water management, support for sustainable transportation, and development in sustainable building and architecture all contribute to attaining environmental sustainability on several levels.
To make environmental sustainability more viable, it aims to aid in the restoration of our natural capital, such as lowering greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation, evolving sustainable farming, and fostering a circular economy within industry value chains.
2. Social Sustainability
In society, sustainability assists individuals, organizations, and civilizations to reach a decent and equally shared quality of life, wellness, and literacy worldwide. Businesses will prosper when everyone has an equal chance to enhance their abilities. It ensures a workforce that is competent, healthy, and vibrant.
Another factor that forms the foundation of social sustainability is the battle for gender equality, particularly in developing nations.
3. Economic Sustainability
Sustainability emphasizes equitable economic growth that provides financial support while minimizing environmental impact. Investment and an adequate level of income assets will boost the other pillars of sustainability.
Business sustainability is viable when:
3.1. Its financing can be retained based on the appraised value of its participants, whether they be consumers or shareholders.
3.2. Maintain its materials resource sharing
3.3. Maintain its operating license
The more companies adopt such fundamental needs, the greater the influence on the overall economy. This pillar mitigates the shortcomings of a linear economy and promotes the transition to a prospective, circular economy.
Source: Aggregation of SDGs into the three pillars
Impact of SDGs
By 2030, the SDGs are expected to make the globe a better place by providing a building block for making sustainability more viable.
The SDGs have resulted in decreased maternal mortality, lowered poverty, improved people’s quality of life, and raised knowledge of infectious and noncommunicable illnesses, as well as immunizations for children. Efforts are being made to provide better medication to the globe, and mental illness is also being prioritized.
Broadly, the Sustainable Development Goals strive to improve the world by achieving its targets within the time frame of 15 years and eliminating poverty, improving health, providing jobs, empowering women, reducing inequalities, and adhering to all seventeen UN targets.
The brilliance of the goals is that everybody can participate, and every effort, no matter how small or large, influences our planet. Measuring your influence is a fantastic place to start when it comes to meeting the SDGs.
The first step in achieving a goal is often to appraise the current situation. In the context of Sustainable Development Goals, this entails examining the organization’s sustainability by analyzing its company footprint.
The following criteria are a useful starting point for measuring the SDGs at the individual and community levels:
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