UN Scientists Identify Sustainable Development Goals to Address the Health of the Environment and Livelihoods

© Flickr user PictureNarrative

“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 an effort to address the changing priorities of sustainable development, a group of international scientists at the UN identified six goals that achieve a holistic view of the development and nourishment of Earth’s life support systems.  The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) were launched with the intention of addressing problems of environmental as it pertains to poverty eradication, citing that these two problems need to be addressed in unison as they will “increasingly become serious barriers to further human development”, says Professor David Griggs of Monash University (AU) according to the International Council of Scientists.

As cited by the research of scientists at the UN and supported by the , current trends indicate that humans are altering the natural balances that exist in the atmosphere, oceans, waterways, forests, ice sheets and biodiversity.  These changes undermine the stability of Earth systems that allow for continued human development.  Climate scientists have already made it clear that changes in the atmosphere have contributed to the unpredictable and severe weather systems that have caused damage all over the world.   These scenarios are escalating in their damage and their frequency thereby uprooting stable cities and making future development more challenging.

Addressing the causes of these severe weather conditions by enacting sustainability goals is one way to restabilize the parts of the world that struggle with poverty as a result of an unstable climate.  Another issue that subverts the goals of environmental policy and causes economic inequality in impoverished areas is that “economic gains often come at the expense of environmental protection”.  The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) that expire in 2015 have made significant strides in focusing the international community on poverty.  The MDGs have not been as successful as it was hoped, and some of the goals remain in conflict with one another.

The newly developed SDGs seek to remedy these problems and address six main issues: thriving lives and livelihoods, food security, water security, clean energy, healthy and productive ecosystems, and governance for sustainable societies.  These are umbrella terms for the many other goals that will be addressed: ending poverty and hunger, combating HIV/aids, and improving maternal and child health, 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.  Some of these goals expand upon the previous MDGs, hoping to clarify the intentions behind both.

These goals were developed by the scientific community and ideally would be addressed in cooperation with one another.  Co-author Dr. Mark Stafford Smith warns though, “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.”

Via International Council of Scientists
Images via Flickr User PictureNarrative, Licensed via Creative Commons

Cite: Vinnitskaya, Irina. "UN Scientists Identify Sustainable Development Goals to Address the Health of the Environment and Livelihoods" 27 May 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Aug 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=378106>

Share your thoughts