Ocean Mist

Issues and trends shaping our environment, health and economy

16 Apr 2013

Do we need sustainable development goals?

Posted by Michael Keating

The Canadian International Council, on the website http://opencanada.org/ has posted a series of articles under the heading “Do we need sustainable development goals?” The project is a partnership with The North-South Institute, with contributions from the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

The series looks at different ideas about sustainability, if and how sustainability should be integrated into global development goals, particularly the next generation of Millennium Development Goals to be created by the United Nations.

One of the articles, Brundtland Revisited http://opencanada.org/features/the-think-tank/essays/brundtland-revisited/ is written by Jim MacNeill, secretary-general and lead author of Our Common Future. The article is a wake-up call and provides insights into the roots of sustainability. It’s written by someone who was at the centre of developing the sustainable development movement 25 years ago. MacNeill provides a warning about how the concept has been over simplified as people grappled with this complex set of ideas.

The article is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the roots of sustainable development and how we are doing in achieving the goals.

MacNeill sums up changes since the 1980s this way: “…the journey to a more sustainable world is barely underway, even though we have made a significant amount of progress.”

One of the greatest threats, of course, is the continuing increase in demand for the types of energy that are leading to disastrous climate change.

The bright spots are in a reduction in global population growth, many reductions in poverty, increases in freedom and democracy in many countries, gains in in transparency and the growth of civil society.

He feels that to get the real changes needed for sustainability we need aroused public opinion, an active civil society, progressive people in business and enlightened political leadership.

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