Mission Impossible? Our global responsibility towards sustainable development

Posted: 2017-05-23
Written by: EU Network
Category: Battle of ideas
Tagged: sustainable development mission

The current world population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to latest United Nations forecasts. The latest data show that about one in eight people still lived in extreme poverty, nearly 800 million people suffered from hunger. 1.1 billion people were living without electricity, and water scarcity affected more than 2 billion people. People everywhere, including the poorest and most vulnerable, should enjoy a basic standard of living and social protection benefits. Demographic and social changes, loss of biodiversity and the disruption of a number of natural cycles are among the threatening costs towards sustainable development.


Sustainable development can be defined simply as the pursuit of a better quality of life for both present and future generations. It is a vision of progress that links economic development, protection of the environment and social justice.

The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development advanced the mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development in development policies at all levels through the adoption of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. A process was created for discussing issues pertaining to the sustainable development of small island developing States resulting in two important action plans - Barbados Plan of Action and Mauritius Strategy. The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, which was held in 2014, took these processes forward and provided the SAMOA Pathway.

In 2012 at the Rio+20 Conference, the international community decided to establish a High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to subsequently replace the Commission on Sustainable Development. The High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development held its first meeting on 24 September 2013. At the Rio+20 Conference, Member States also decided to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals, which were to build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post 2015 development agenda.  The process of arriving at the post 2015 development agenda was Member State-led with broad participation from Major Groups and other civil society stakeholders.

On 25 September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, along with a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 associated targets.


The 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets are broader in scope and go further than the Millennium Development Goals covering: economic growth, social inclusion and environmental protection.  These elements are interconnected and all are crucial for the well-being of individuals and societies.  


Global multi-stakeholder partnerships have been recognized as an important component of strategies that seek to mobilize all involved parts  over the next years in areas of critical importance for humanity and the planet.


● to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.


● to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.


● to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.


● to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.


● to mobilize global solidarity, focussed in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries and all stakeholders.

In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, substantial investment will be required, in both developed and developing countries.


There must be promotion of sustainable, inclusive and equitable economic growth, creating greater opportunities for all, reducing inequalities, raising basic standards of living, fostering equitable social development and inclusion, and promoting integrated and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

A core feature of the Sustainable Development Goals is strong focus on:  the mobilization of financial resources, capacity-building and technology, as well as data and institutions. Developed countries have a special role to play, fostering new technologies and boosting  progress in reducing unsustainable consumption. Investments in sustainable development will help address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and building climate resilience. Only by mobilising social, economic and environmental action together can we eradicate poverty irreversibly and meet the aspirations of eight billion people in 2030. Tackling climate change is essential for sustainable development and poverty eradication. Diversified economies, with equal opportunities for all, can unleash the dynamism that creates jobs and livelihoods, especially for young people and women.

Sustainable development is a challenge for every country on earth: to ensure good job possibilities while moving to the sustainable patterns of work and life that will be necessary in a world of limited natural resources.

Sintija Bernava,
Chairwoman of the Board of Non Governmental Organisation "Donum Animus" (Latvia). "Donum Animus" is the only  Non Governmental Organisation from Latvia holding Special Consultative Status of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.


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