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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2014  /  October 2014  /  Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development

Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development

Lucien Georgeson and Mark Maslin on latest UN environmental goals

Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development

On 7th October, The Conversation published a critical commentary by Lucien Georgeson and Professor Mark Maslin on the latest set of environmental sustainability goals presented to the General Assembly in September by a UN Working Group.

Despite a huge effort in setting Sustainable Development Goals, the compartmentalisation of major areas, such as energy, water and the economy, means that they are already in conflict, even before climate change is added.

The document includes a set of 17 goals, each with various sub-goals, covering everything from poverty and education to water, climate change and sustainable cities. Although these appear comprehensive and ambitious, they also embody a potentially dangerous lack of understanding of how the different goals will affect each other

There is no environmental, climate change or sustainable development champion within the UN system, so that existing UN organisations each seek to achieve targets in their focus area without sufficient co-operation.

A thorough assessment is required of what checks can be put in place to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals are genuinely sustainable, as well as what potential negative interactions could take place between the goals. Without this, we might have some goals, but we won’t have sustainable development.

The project  'Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development' is a UCL - London International Development Centre collaborative research project, funded by UCL Grand Challenges.




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