What is Sustainable Development?

n 2015, the U.S. and all other members of the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development along with the 17 goals that form its foundation [1] . The goals are aimed at ending all forms of poverty, fighting inequalities, and halting climate change. To achieve these goals, governments are calling on everyone, including those who are poor, middle class, and rich to contribute what they can.

Why is sustainable development important?

As the population on earth grows, more resources are required to accommodate our needs. Unfortunately, the majority of resources currently being used to fuel peoples’ needs are not renewable, which could potentially lead to a lack of resources. Sustainable development can be defined as meeting current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs [2] . If humans continue to live on the same path as we have in our recent past, we will not be able to achieve a better future.

Why is sustainability difficult to achieve?

In order for the agenda to be effective, governments must focus on three critical areas for development: economic, social, and environmental.

The difficulty with achieving many of the goals set out by the agenda is that sometimes they are conflicting. Currently, it is more economically viable to use sources of energy that have a negative impact on the environment rather than renewable energy. This is one of the main reasons as to why people are not switching to environmentally friendly sources of energy.

What should you do?

For this agenda to work, everyone needs to do their part. Many people may think that their impact is not significant compared to corporations or governments, but if we all share a collective mindset of trying to make the world a better place, big changes will happen.

It is important to remember that Steve Jobs didn’t create Apple in one day, or Jeff Bezos didn’t create Amazon in one week, some things take time to see results, but with a change in attitude, anything is achievable.

[1] United Nations. (n.d.). The Sustainable Development Agenda. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda

[2] International Institute for Sustainable Development. (n.d.). Sustainable Development. Retrieved from https://www.iisd.org/topic/sustainable-development