Twenty-three years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the first Earth Summit called for the full integration of environmental, social and economic objectives into development planning. What do the U.N.’s new goals have in store for people — and nature? (© Rodrigo Soldon 2/Flickr Creative Commons)
Later this week, world leaders will gather in New York to make some big decisions about the future of our planet. With the ambitious aim of ending global poverty, they will agree on a set of international development goals that incorporate human development, economic growth and nature conservation — the three pillars of sustainability — with the addition of good governance.
These targets — known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — will set the stage for how humanity will continue to raise global living standards without further degrading our natural resources to do it.
For those who haven’t been following the process closely, the SDGs will replace and expand upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), established in 2000 as a blueprint for development investments over the past 15 years.
The MDGs will expire at the end of this year, and the new SDGs that replace them must be: action-oriented, concise, easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries — while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.
If that sounds like a tall order, it’s because it certainly is.