Sustainable development and the concept of sustainability

11 March 2021

This is the first in a series of blogs in which we will discuss environmental sustainability and social responsibility in events and explore new technologies or other innovations that can help our community interact virtually.

In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) introduced the concept of sustainable development and described how it could be achieved. In its publication, Brundtland Report also referred to as Our Common Future, the most well-known definition of sustainable development was given.

“Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The Brundtland Report, 1987

The United Nations (UN) have set 17 goals that are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. These goals are integrated, meaning that action in one area will affect outcomes in others and that development must balance environmental, social, and economic sustainability. They were adopted by all UN member states in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda that laid out the actions required to achieve them.

Here are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations:

Overview of the UN sustainable development goals

Although progress has been made in various areas, overall, more actions are required to reach the SDGs. In September 2019, world leaders at the SDG Summit called for a decade of action, with the aim of enhancing national implementation and strengthen institutions. Tackling growing poverty, empowering women and girls, and addressing the climate emergency sit at the core of the 2020-2030 decade.

Sustainable development is often referred to as ‘sustainability’. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental and social. Sustainability is about finding the right balance and understating the long-term benefits of economic development that protects the environment and the society. Although the word ‘sustainability’ brings to mind terms like recycling, energy efficiency and eco-friendly, it involves much more than just these.

Social sustainability focuses on creating communities that are fair, diverse, connected and offer a high quality of life, taking into consideration all the things people need from the communities they live in. It also ensures that future generations benefit from at least the same quality of life as we do. To protect the community, we need to take care of our home, planet Earth. Environmental sustainability is responsibly interacting with the planet to maintain its natural resources and climate. Of course, to strike the right balance, economic sustainability should be part of the decision-making process. It requires a long-term approach, and the benefits must be weighed against the other aspects of sustainability.

Sustainability has been historically perceived as a business issue involving activities that give back to the community to help mitigate the business’s environmental impact. In the last decade, it has become evident that individuals should also strive towards sustainability, by changing their habits and by using their consumer power to reward companies that incorporate sustainability in their strategy.

You can find more information on sustainability here

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