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Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development has been a hot topic of discussion in this century. Over 40 years, United Nation has been urging leaders around the globe to proactively engage in sustainable activities. Why is it significant now?1

Rapid economic activities since the Industrial Revolution back in the late 1970s have slowly impacted our environment and humankind without us realizing it. Continuous production and consumption without appropriate controls have impacted the world we live in today. People migrated from rural to cities in search of better living and we could see mega cities have been built by this migration. Demand for production and consumption became higher however life supporting resources are depleting as population rising.

Globalization and modernization are taking its toll on our much-loved earth. The world is facing unpresented challenges and based on updated planetary boundaries framework shows that four out of nine are now crossed due to rapid human activities. The four are: climate change, loss of biodiversity; stratospheric ozone depletion and land-system change (for example deforestation).

2It is estimated that the top 1% will be richer than the rest of the world combined. Hence, rapid technological change and innovation offer unprecedented opportunities to tackle these complex problems. Yet, there is not enough problem solving for the challenges of sustainable development. The world’s combined expertise, capacity for innovation, and resources are not applied systematically to some of the most critical issues we all face.
United Nation has been addressing sustainability issues since 1972 where focus then was mainly on human and environment. The discussions have evolved since via ‘Millennium Development Goals’ where 8 goals, 25 targets and 60 indicators have been carried out from 2000 to 2015. It was adopted by 189 nations during the Millennium Summit. Nevertheless only some of the goals were really met like reducing poverty, increasing access to safe water, improving the lives of slum dwellers and achieving gender parity in primary schools. However there were some challenges faced in most areas as the MGDs have been uneven among regions and countries and some of the goals had no measurement. The focus given was very much for the poor countries.3
Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs said that “There has been important progress across all goals, with some targets already having been met well ahead of the 2015 deadline. All stakeholders will have to intensify and focus their efforts on the areas where advancement has been too slow and has not reached all”.

4The 1987 Brundtland report “Our Common Future” helped further define sustainable development: Sustainable Development is a development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


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