Celebrating Sustainable Development

Celebrating Sustainable Development

In my view, there is an urgent need to communicate with the public and help to explain where there is consensus, and where are there doubts about the issues of sustainable development. Jeffrey Sachs @JeffDSachs


The celebration of the first Earth Day in 1970 was just the beginning of a worldwide movement to improve various issues involving the environment. It was not long after that landmark laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act made significant impact in the way we view and approach our environment. With over 22,000 partners in 192 countries the Earth Day Network was established and has successfully executed environmental campaigns on various issues such as climate change and drinking water. Now, almost half a century later, Earth Day 2014 in consortium with Green Cities campaign will focus on the issues revolving increasing urbanization, its effects on climate change, and a progressive evolution of our cities towards green and sustainable projects.

SustainableDevelopment_520pxDid you know that in 1990, less than 40% of the global population lived in a city, but as of 2010, more than half of all people live in an urban area? By 2030, 6 out of every 10 people will live in a city, and by 2050, this proportion will increase to 7 out of 10 people.[1] The human population is growing rapidly and as it continues to grow so will its effects on our environment. One individual who is familiar with the strife for sustainability is American Economist and Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs, who spoke at this year’s Unite for Sight Global Health & Innovations Conference in Yale University.  In a 2012 Lancet article Sachs discusses the need to transition from the current Millennium Development goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development goals (SDGs), a global conversation we would like to introduce in honor of Earth Day 2014.

For over a decade the MDGs have served as a global Report Card for countries around the world, some excelling while others required a little bit more work. As the world nears it’s MDG deadline of 2015, it will be noted that a majority of countries have made positive progress and reached their statistical quotas within some if not all their MDGs while a large portion have failed to effect similar change. But let this not discourage us, rather, let it inspire us to see the need for more sustainable and long term development post 2015 goals. The goals, also referred to as the triple bottom line, will focus on economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion… a hallmark of sustainable development and a broad consensus on which the world can build. The SDGs will also require participation and efforts of all countries, regardless of their social and economic standing, as opposed to the current developed-helping-developing relationship that the MDGs have fostered. Success in anyone category will be dependent on success in all three. Moreover, the three bottom lines will depend on a fourth condition: good governance at all levels, local, national, regional, and global.[2]

In June of 2012 Sustainable Development was officially recognized by the United Nations at the UN Rio+20 Summit as the organizing principle for post 2015 goals. A team of specialized individuals called the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, operating under the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, recommends the adoption of the following SDGs: The focus of the first SDG will be the eradication of extreme poverty. Followed by Promotion of Sustainable Growth and Jobs, Education for All, Social Inclusion, Health for All, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Cities, Sustainable Energy and Climate Change, Sustainable Biodiversity, and Good Governance.

Jeffrey Sachs will be hosting a Q&A at 12:30PM ET. To ask questions or to learn more about his views on the SDGs you may follow him at @JeffDSachs


[1]Urban Population Growth. (n.d.). WHO. Retrieved , from http://www.who.int/gho/urban_health/situation_trends/urban_population_growth_text/en/   

[2]Sachs, J. D. (2012, June 9). From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals.Retrieved , from http://jeffsachs.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/From-MDGs-to-SDGs-Lancet-June-2012.pdf

Report of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. (2012, June 22).United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). Retrieved , from http://www.uncsd2012.org/content/documents/814UNCSD%20REPORT%20final%20revs.pdf

Earth Day Network . Retrieved , from http://www.earthday.org/


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