This week the UN Sustainable Development Summit will convene at UN headquarters in New York. World leaders from 193 nations will be asked to commit to 17 Global Goals in three broad categories—end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and tackle climate change — to be reached in the next fifteen years.
The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, or simply “Global Goals” distribute easily into the categories that we have defined for our ongoing work on Global Solution Networks, which has analyzed the existence of hundreds of innovative, multi-stakeholder, collaborative networks that are already hard at work on solving the problems that are laid out in the Global Goals.
The most commonly referenced description of sustainable development comes from the 1987 report, Our Common Future, by the World Commission on Environment and Development: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The International Institute for Sustainable Development elaborates:
Sustainable development requires an understanding of the world as a system – a system that connects space;
and a system that connects time… air pollution from North America affects air quality in Asia…pesticides sprayed in Argentina could harm fish stocks off the coast of Australia.
When the globe is viewed as a system over time it’s easy to see that the actions of earlier populations continue to affect us today; and the economic policies we endorse today will have an impact on prosperity In the future. The SDGs are a critical step in planning today’s actions as the foundation for tomorrow’s outcomes.