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Sustainable Development

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Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Sustainability is the foundation for today’s leading global framework for international cooperation – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Each of the 17 SDGs has specific targets to be achieved by 2030. The goals and targets are universal, meaning they apply to all countries around the world, not just poor countries. Reaching the goals requires action on all fronts – governments, businesses, civil society and people everywhere all have a role to play.

To find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals, explore our SDG Knowledge Hub – an online resource center for the latest news, original commentary from our experts, guest articles from key actors in SDG implementation, and a calendar of upcoming events related to the 2030 Agenda.

Sustainable development is in the news every day as the world copes with climate change, biodiversity loss, conflict and resource scarcity. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and subscribe to our biweekly e-newsletter to stay connected to the global conversation.

 
  • Blog
    Three Ways the Coronavirus is Shaping Sustainable Development

    Three Ways the Coronavirus is Shaping Sustainable Development

    This pandemic and the global recovery from it will impact the future of sustainable development. Here are three key themes that are emerging.

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    Overseeing Agenda 2030—How to Avoid a Repeat of the Commission on Sustainable Development

    Overseeing Agenda 2030—How to Avoid a Repeat of the Commission on Sustainable Development

    The High-Level Political Forum is responsible for tracking and facilitating the implementation of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals. Two things must happen if it is to be successful. 

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  • Blog
    Sustainable by 2045: Three ways the mining industry can make it happen

    Sustainable by 2045: Three ways the mining industry can make it happen

    On February 29, more than 150 leaders from the minerals industry—from governments, civil society and the private sector—came together to find solutions for sustainable development at the Sustainability Forum. 

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  • Report
    Progressing National SDGs Implementation: An Independent Assessment of the Voluntary National Review Reports Submitted to the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2019

    Progressing National SDGs Implementation: An Independent Assessment of the Voluntary National Review Reports Submitted to the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2019

    The report reviews trends, gaps and best practices in the 47 Voluntary National Reviews countries submitted in 2019 to the United Nations to share their progress on the SDGs.

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  • Report
    The State of Global Environmental Governance 2019

    The State of Global Environmental Governance 2019

    A global team of reporters points to the successes, shortcomings and overall trends in international environmental negotiations in 2019.

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    Buildings and Construction: A sleeping giant for climate action

    Buildings and Construction: A sleeping giant for climate action

    Today, the construction and operation of buildings is responsible for 40% of all energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Energy demand from this sector is expected to grow by another 50% by 2050.

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  • Blog
    How Reforming Fossil Fuel Subsidies Can Go Wrong: A lesson from Ecuador

    How Reforming Fossil Fuel Subsidies Can Go Wrong: A lesson from Ecuador

    There must be a foundation of trust, along with a clear plan to protect vulnerable segments of the population and, ideally, to phase in the reforms gradually.

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  • Annual Report
    The Power of Together: IISD Annual Report 2018-2019

    The Power of Together: IISD Annual Report 2018-2019

    Our 2018-2019 annual report The Power of Together showcases some of the ways we made an impact by bringing together unlikely suspects, sharing knowledge and experience between countries, and encouraging new ideas and unique approaches.

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  • Blog
    Adaptation to Climate Change: Putting people first

    Adaptation to Climate Change: Putting people first

    When we talk about solving the climate crisis, we should have more than just a technical lens; we should also be talking about compassion, grief, fear and hope.

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  • Book
    Modelling for Sustainable Development: New decisions for a new age

    Modelling for Sustainable Development: New decisions for a new age

    This book provides a detailed overview of models used in designing projects and policies that integrate sustainable development considerations and objectives. 

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