April 8, 2018
Given new pressing world issues such as ecological limitations and climate change, the kind of governance being done internationally needs to re-focus its orientation and adopt new methodologies. At the forefront of upholding sustainable development is the United Nations. In 2012, they came up with the now buzzword called the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
A highly globalized world, compounded with vast cultural, political socio-economic differences, has made room for the establishment of international organizations and supra-national agencies in order to introduce a global order and to mediate among societies. The presence of these international institutions (e.g. United Nations, ASEAN, European Union) has made a major role in the field of international development by demanding from various institutions, such as government agencies, business sector, and civil society, to level up the quality of their products and services to the general public.
One of the more recent elements in pursuit of international development is the concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) crafted by the United Nations. Being at the forefront of upholding the common good, the UN organized the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, and came up with the new list of world objectives, the SDGs. These SDGs were crafted in order “to produce a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world”. The concept of SDGs has taken its existence from its predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which were born at the turn of the century to have a global concentrated effort to tackle persistent international issues and challenges such as poverty, diseases, education, and environment sustainability. The transition to SDGs is a proof of the continuous call to wage the battle confronting the international society today.
Among the most pressing challenges that the world is facing is admittedly the issue of natural resources and sustainability. From having 8 MDGs, there are now 17 SDGs, all of which are inter-connected. Among these SDGs, five are directly related to the environment and ecology, namely: 7th SDG – affordable and clean energy, 11th – sustainable cities and communities, 13th – climate action, 14th – life below water, and 15th – life on land.
Sustainable development is defined as the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (Brundtland Report, 1987)”. According to Dr. Agyeman, Bullard and Evans (2003), the tenets of sustainable development focus on the improvement of the quality of life not only of the present but of the future as well, bearing in mind that the method of improving lives has to be a just and an equitable one, mindful of the limits of ecosystems. The 17 SDGs mirror this kind of development and, as a cohesive whole, act as the main principle advocating for global cooperation that encompasses economic progress, social inclusivity, and environmental sustainability.
Given these international objectives that are agreed upon by numerous countries, there are now common avenues to uphold sustainable development. The entire globe is given concrete outputs and means to cooperate in preserving one of their greatest treasures as an international community, their environment, the very place where they live in.