Monday, April 01, 2013

The new UN Sustainable Development Goals

The following press release has just be issued by Monash Univerity reporting an important contribution that MSI (Monash Sustainabilty Institute) is making to the formulation and pursuit of the UN's new SDGs - sustainable development goals.
Development dependent on sustainable approach
22 March 2013

"Scientists taking part in a UN working group to develop a set of universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have warned that on our current trajectory, environmental degradation will reverse progress made in eradicating poverty.

Director of the Monash Sustainability Institute, Professor Dave Griggs and colleagues published an article in the prestigious journal Nature, setting out a new conception of sustainable development and six base goals that they argue must be implemented by 2030.

Professor Griggs delivered a keynote address based on the Nature paper at a UN-sponsored meeting in New York this week.

The meeting followed the decision at last year's Rio Earth Summit to develop goals to guide the process of lifting the world's rapidly-growing population out of poverty while ensuring that Earth can continue to support human life.

The SDGs are due to come into effect in 2016, adding an increased environmental emphasis to the Millennium Development Goals. Professor Griggs said their importance should not be underestimated.

"If these goals are not meaningful, measurable and achievable, we risk having gains made poverty reduction undermined by environmental impacts," Professor Griggs said.
"We are already seeing the damage that human development has caused to the Earth's oceans, forests, waterways, atmosphere and biodiversity. Our population is due to hit nine million by mid-century. To continue to operate the way we have until now will result in irreversible environmental damage, which in turn will undermine development."

Professor Griggs and his colleagues argue for six specific goals couched within a new conception of sustainable development.
"Until now, discussion and policy around sustainable development has been guided by three pillars - economic, social and environmental," Professor Griggs said.
"We argue that it is more beneficial, and indeed necessary, to think of these pillars as concentric circles - economy within society within the environment.

The six goals are: thriving lives and livelihoods; sustainable food security; sustainable water security; universal clean energy; healthy and productive ecosystems; and governance for sustainable societies.
"Since the Millennium Development Goals were introduced, we have seen a reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty in many developing areas of the globe. This success illustrates both the effectiveness of goal-setting on an international scale and the importance of this week's meeting for our future," Professor Griggs said."

Form my perspective this is an important initiative.  I hope that soon we will be able to critically learn from what did and did'nt work in the pursuit of the UN sponsored MDGs (Millenium Development Goals) and bring that thinking to the framing and pursuit of the SDGs.  Within a systems theoretical framing the pursuit of goal-seeking behavior has been found limiting - perhaps this learning could be applied to the praxis of pursuing SDGs before old ways of acting become institutionalised?

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