Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sustainable Development Goals must sustain people and planet, experts say

Date:
March 20, 2013
Source:
International Council for Science
Summary:
Scientists are arguing for a set of six Sustainable Development Goals that link poverty eradication to protection of Earth's life support. The researchers argue that in the face of increasing pressure on the planet's ability to support life, adherence to out-dated definitions of sustainable development threaten to reverse progress made in developing countries over past decades.

In the wake of last week's meetings at the UN on the definition of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a group of international scientists have published a call in the journal Nature today, arguing for a set of six SDGs that link poverty eradication to protection of Earth's life support. The researchers argue that in the face of increasing pressure on the planet's ability to support life, adherence to out-dated definitions of sustainable development threaten to reverse progress made in developing countries over past decades.

Related Articles


Ending poverty and safeguarding Earth's life support system must be the twin priorities for the Sustainable Development Goals, say the researchers. The team identified six goals that, if met, would contribute to global sustainability while helping to alleviate poverty.

"Climate change and other global environmental threats will increasingly become serious barriers to further human development," says lead author Professor David Griggs from Monash University in Australia. Humans are transforming Earth's life support system -- the atmosphere, oceans, waterways, forests, ice sheets and biodiversity that allow us to thrive and prosper -- in ways "likely to undermine development gains," he added.

Co-author Professor Johan Rockström, director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre said, "Mounting research shows we are now at the point that the stable functioning of Earth systems is a prerequisite for a thriving global society and future development."

The team asserts that the classic model of sustainable development, of three integrated pillars -- economic, social and environmental -- that has served nations and the UN for over a decade, is flawed because it does not reflect reality. "As the global population increases towards nine billion people sustainable development should be seen as an economy serving society within Earth's life support system, not as three pillars," says co-author Dr. Priya Shyamsundar from the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, Nepal.

The researchers say that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), set to expire in 2015, have helped focus international efforts on eight poverty-related goals. However, despite successes in some areas -- the number of people living on less than one dollar a day has been more than halved -- many MDGs have not been met, and some remain in conflict with one another. Economic gains, for example, have come at the expense of environmental protection. Politicians are struggling to link global environmental concerns with addressing poverty.

The new set of goals -- thriving lives and livelihoods, food security, water security, clean energy, healthy and productive ecosystems, and governance for sustainable societies -- aim to resolve this conflict. The targets beneath each goal include updates and expanded targets under the MDGs, including ending poverty and hunger, combating HIV/aids, and improving maternal and child health. But they also define a set of planetary "must haves": climate stability, the reduction biodiversity loss, protection of ecosystem services, a healthy water cycle and oceans, sustainable nitrogen and phosphorus use, clean air and sustainable material use.

Co-author Dr. Mark Stafford Smith, science director of CSIRO's climate adaptation research programme in Australia said: "The key point is that the SDGs must genuinely add up to sustainability. The SDGs have the potential to lock in the spectacular gains on human development that we have achieved in the past two decades and help the globe transition to a sustainable lifestyle. But the link between these two aims must be more coherent."

The new research is linked to Future Earth, a new international research programme designed to "develop the knowledge required for societies worldwide to face challenges posed by global environmental change and to identify opportunities for a transition to global sustainability." Several authors are closely involved in developing this new research programme.

"Ultimately, the choice of goals is a political decision. But science can inform what combination of goals can achieve a sustainable future. And science can identify measurable targets and indicators," said Dr Stafford Smith.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by International Council for Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Griggs, Mark Stafford-Smith, Owen Gaffney, Johan Rockström, Marcus C. Öhman, Priya Shyamsundar, Will Steffen, Gisbert Glaser, Norichika Kanie, Ian Noble. Policy: Sustainable development goals for people and planet. Nature, 2013; 495 (7441): 305 DOI: 10.1038/495305a

Cite This Page:

International Council for Science. "Sustainable Development Goals must sustain people and planet, experts say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320155228.htm>.
International Council for Science. (2013, March 20). Sustainable Development Goals must sustain people and planet, experts say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320155228.htm
International Council for Science. "Sustainable Development Goals must sustain people and planet, experts say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130320155228.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) — A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins