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IMPORTANCE Of Sustainable Development (and Goals)

Sustainable development is important because it encourages us to preserve our natural resources, respect the environment, and conserve biodiversity. Sustainable development allows us to live in harmony with the planet.

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What’s the importance of sustainable development? Why is the issue of sustainability important for economic development? Why is it important to choose eco friendly products? Why is sustainability important to business success? Why is gender equality important for sustainable development? Is sustainable development really necessary? Why is sustainability important to me? Read on!


Why is sustainable development Important?

Reasons why sustainable development is important
The importance of sustainable development

Sustainable development is important because we have responsibilities toward future generations. They should also be able to:

  • Have access to enough natural resources to fulfill their fundamental needs
  • Conserve the environment, biodiversity, healthy ecosystems, and clean oceans
  • Live in a peaceful, fair, and thriving society
  • Enjoy a growing economy and have access to decent employment
  • We have no reason to use more natural resources than what we strictly need

Sustainable Development Goals

The 17 UN sustainable development goals are a pathway to achieve all of this within 2030. Here are the 17 UN sustainable development goals (SDGs):

  1. No poverty
  2. Zero hunger
  3. Good health and wellbeing
  4. Quality education
  5. Gender equality
  6. Clean water and sanitation
  7. Affordable and clean energy
  8. Decent work and economic growth
  9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
  10. Reduced inequalities
  11. Sustainable cities and communities
  12. Responsible consumption and production
  13. Climate action
  14. Life below water
  15. Life on land
  16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
  17. Partnerships for the goals

In recent history, humanity has made incredible progress in improving the quality of life and well-being of people all around the world.

We have reduced poverty rates, improved medicine, and healthcare, provided clean water to large portions of the world, and given countless people access to education, among many other achievements.

However, there is still a lot of progress to be made, and every person deserves to have necessities such as these, both in the present and in the future.

We have a responsibility to ensure that future generations will also be able to fulfill these needs, that they can live on a planet with rich environments and healthy ecosystems, and that their society is peaceful, fair, and thriving.

The purpose of sustainable development is to achieve that future, as already shown by many examples of sustainability.

So, why is the issue of sustainability so important for human development?

Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the issues related to sustainability that we are facing, what actions need to be taken in order to tackle them, and the results that will be achieved by implementing sustainable development.

Why is Sustainable Development be important to me?

Why is sustainable development important to me

Our sustainable development goals are not tasks that can be completed overnight or be left to just a few people. Sustainability is something that affects the lives of every person on the planet, and sustainable development is a mission for all of humanity. Every day, all around the world, there are countless people who are working hard to create a healthier, fairer, and more sustainable world for us and all future generations to live in.

It is not only that sustainable development is important for you, it is you who is important for sustainable development. There are many ways that you can help to move us forwards, and every little thing that you do brings us a little closer to being a sustainable society, whether it’s raising awareness, changing your habits to be more eco-friendly, or donating to charities that can put the money to good use. You could have a great impact on making the world a better place.

Other reasons why sustainability is important

Climate Change and Environmental Impact

Climate change and environmental impact

The crisis of climate change is widely considered the most urgent problem that humanity currently faces, and in order to prevent it from worsening further, and to eventually begin reversing it, it is necessary to begin lowering the number of greenhouse gasses we emit, most of which is carbon dioxide.

The main way to achieve this will be by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and making greater use of clean and renewable sources of power instead. Where fossil fuels are still utilized, their use should be made as efficient and as low impact as possible. But also planting oxygen producing trees can help, because trees are also absorbing and storing CO2.

The widespread destruction of natural environments is another urgent problem that we face, a prominent example of which is the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Climate change is also causing great strain on many environments around the world, such as with the warming of the Arctic and the desertification of large expanses of previously fertile land. Humanity relies on these ecosystems (and the biodiversity that they support) in innumerable ways, and failing to preserve them will cause immense difficulties for future generations.

There are many actions that can be taken to combat these issues. A major fact for environmental degradation is poverty, as many people in poorer countries are forced to overexploit their natural resources in order to survive, and the damage to the ecosystem then makes life even harder for them, creating a vicious cycle.

The more poverty is eliminated, the less need there will be to overexploit resources from the environment. In addition to this, many developing countries have great potential for producing renewable energy, and if that potential is made use of it could have great benefits to both their environments and to their economies.

Education about sustainability and sustainable development is another important measure to take, as it is very important for people around the world to be aware of the impact of these environmental issues, how they are caused, and what they can do to prevent them. Powerful sustainability quotes can help us to educate the new generations in getting the right eco-friendly mindset and pursuing sustainable development.

It is also very important that countries implement plans for mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change so that people living in vulnerable areas suffer the least impact possible.

importance of a healthy rainforest for sustainable development

Equality, Health, and Quality of Life

As you saw with one of the three principles of sustainability, Social Sustainability, improving the happiness, well-being, and rights of people around the world is one of the main goals of sustainable development

Ending poverty and hunger may be the first objective that comes to mind, and these are the first two goals in the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals. As mentioned in the previous section, about how poverty is a major factor in environmental degradation, it is extremely difficult for society to make long-term plans when so many people are forced to focus on simply surviving. 

Thankfully, we have made incredible progress in reducing poverty. From 1990 to 2018, the number of people living in extreme poverty fell from 1.9 billion down to about 650 million. This happened despite the fact that much of the world’s population growth occurs in poorer countries. However, progress has not been even around the world. Many of the people who have been lifted out of poverty in the last few decades living in countries that have experienced very high economic growth.

Large amounts of people living in poverty are located in countries whose economies are stagnant, and their living conditions are not improving at anywhere near the same pace. It is essential that more attention is given to helping these countries develop and to improve their living conditions.

Giving everybody access to education is another integral goal for sustainable development. There are still many barriers that keep people from receiving quality, inclusive education, for example, because of high costs and gender inequality, and removing those barriers gives those people and their communities a wealth of new opportunities and is essential for helping them escape from poverty. Education is also fundamentally important for human development and growth, and it equips people with the knowledge and skills necessary for finding solutions to the many issues that we face. Without wider access to education, we will encounter immense difficulties in making our societies more sustainable.

mountain forest environment

The Importance of sustainable development for the Economy

gender equality in sustainable business

It is clear that economic growth leads to better lives for countless people, but this growth also brings with it grave consequences for the environment and the natural resources that we all depend on. In order to achieve the goals of sustainable development, which is to reach human development goals while also preserving the environments and resources we need, it is necessary to make a transition to a more sustainable economy.

One important way that we can accomplish this is by moving to more sustainable patterns of how our products are produced and used. Currently, too much of our production of goods is reliant on unsustainable sources of the materials needed to make them, and we produce far more waste than necessary, much of which could be recycled for use in new products.

Another problem is that many products, such as electronics, are not designed to have long lifespans and are disposed of far sooner than they should be. It is therefore of great importance that we move to methods of production that source materials from sustainable sources, that we minimize waste and recycle materials from old products as much as possible, and that businesses design their products to last longer.

Why is Sustainability Important for Business success?

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for businesses to consider. Aiming at sustainable development for a business means adopting new approaches to doing business and making plans for the future that allow them to thrive without reliance on unsustainable and unethical business practices, as it is likely to get much more difficult and less profitable for any business to continue with practices such as those. 

Public awareness of the importance of sustainability and preserving the environment has increased greatly in recent times, especially during the Coronavirus pandemic, and one result of this is the lowering reputation of organizations that practice unsustainable ways of doing business, and therefore an increasing reluctance to interact with and purchase products from those organizations.

Another example of the difficulties that unsustainable businesses will encounter is that many governments around the world are committing to reducing their impact on the environment and on the climate, which will mean stricter regulations and expectations for organizations to meet, and consequences and penalties for those that do not meet them.

For these reasons and many others, businesses that do not adapt and take action to become more sustainable are unlikely to remain successful in the future, regardless of what their current profits are. 

On the other hand, businesses that do adapt and take responsibility for their business practices will have a lot to gain from doing so.

One benefit is that in order to become sustainable and environmentally friendly, a business has to change the way that it functions and the way it produces its products so that it can reduce waste as much as possible and make the best use of its resources also by leveraging green IT, the best digital transformation technologies, industry 4.0 and other green technology examples.

This improves the efficiency of the business, simultaneously resulting in higher quality products and lower production costs.

And, as mentioned before, many people are now placing much more importance on purchasing products that were produced through sustainable methods.

An eco-friendly business will be able to make use of that opportunity to attract new customers, and having a reputation for having sustainable business practices is certain to gain them a competitive advantage over less sustainable businesses.

Why is Gender Equality Important for Sustainable Development?

Another main goal of sustainable development is to eliminate inequalities and to give every person the rights and opportunities in life that they deserve. A very important aspect of this is gender equality. There are still many parts of the world where women have few rights, face severe discrimination, and have a lack of opportunities for work and education.

This inequality not only causes terrible suffering but also has severe consequences for every society where it is prevalent. The effects of restricting women from fully taking part in society, politics, and the economy are enormous and will negatively affect every aspect of development.

For example, when women are blocked from receiving a good standard of education, they are not only closed off from a lifetime of opportunities that they could have created with that education but they are also prevented from contributing a wealth of new ideas and skills which will be badly needed for the future development of their society.

Promoting gender equality and empowering women is essential for alleviating the suffering that this inequality causes and creating a happier and healthier society, and it should come as no surprise that there is strong evidence that gender equality has a very positive impact on a country’s development and economic growth.

Although there are still many challenges to achieving gender equality, we have made and continue to make progress, as more women are in positions of leadership, have access to education, and experience less discrimination in many parts of the world.

Why is it important to choose eco friendly products?

Taking the time to find products that were made through sustainable methods is an important choice, as it is one of the ways that you are able to influence the movement towards a more sustainable economy.

When you purchase an eco friendly product, the money that you spend on it is not only going to a business that is committed to sustainability, it is also money that may have otherwise gone to businesses that have not committed to more sustainable methods of production. By buying eco-friendly products you are helping to encourage businesses to move towards sustainability.

It is also important to remember that eco-friendly products are likely to function better and save you money and energy. For example, energy-efficient light bulbs not only consume much less power than older light bulbs, but they also last far longer and are less likely to stop working.

Buying products from an eco-friendly business should also leave you with less waste for you to dispose of, such as plastics, which helps you to reduce your own footprint.

What is sustainable development?

According to the definition given by Brundtland in 1987, sustainable development means:

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IS:

“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

By Brundtland, Our Common Future 1987

This means achieving our goals for human development and economic growth in a way that does not compromise the natural systems that humanity relies on and that does not use more resources than what can be naturally replenished.

Sustainable development is an organizing principle for making our society and economies sustainable long term.

Sustainable development is achieved when the 3 pillars of sustainability are applied and well balanced. This happens when environmental protection, social equity, and economic profitability coexist without one area taking over any of the others.

The 3 Pillars of sustainability

The three pillars of sustainability
Diagram showing how sustainable development can be found at the intersection of the 3 pillars of sustainability

The triple bottom line of sustainability, also referred to as the three pillars of sustainability (the 3 Ps), are described as:

  1. Environmental sustainability. Taking action to preserve the environment is often the first thing people think of when they think of sustainability. Environmental sustainability involves conserving natural environments and biodiversity, reducing pollution, waste, and our carbon footprint, ensuring that renewable resources are not harvested faster than they can regenerate and that the use of non-renewable resources is limited as much as possible.
  2. Social sustainability. Social sustainability is less well defined than the other principles, but it involves many types of action, including eliminating poverty and hunger around the world, providing every person with quality education, improving the quality and accessibility of healthcare and ensuring wellbeing, promoting peace and preventing wars, and reducing equalities, including achieving gender equality. Achieving goals such as these will allow people to live healthy and happy lives in a stable and sustainable way.
  3. Economical sustainability. This involves changing our economical model to allow for growth while simultaneously taking into account the fact that we have limited resources, and moving the focus away from creating endless growth and profit regardless of the cost. Thankfully, many businesses are now taking steps to become more sustainable, and public support is beginning to turn against companies that do not make an effort to implement sustainable business practices and environmental responsibility

Those concepts are sometimes also referred to as the three e’s of sustainability as well.

How Sustainable Development Can be Achieved

renewable energy

When you think of the three principles of sustainability that were mentioned earlier, it is important to remember that they are all interconnected and that we will need to take into account every aspect of sustainable development in order to create a sustainable world in the future. 

In addition to the sustainable development goals described previously, another very important aspect of sustainable development is educating people about it. This includes education on sustainability, sustainable lifestyle, and green technology.

As well as improving awareness of the problems we face, it is also important that people acquire the skills and knowledge that will be needed for us to achieve our goals for sustainability and to make the transition to a sustainable society.

As more and more people become aware of what needs to be changed and how they can help to accomplish those goals, it becomes easier and easier for those changes to be set in motion. 

Though we still have a very long way to go before our societies become sustainable, the increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability that is being seen around the world today gives us reason to be optimistic about achieving our goals for sustainability in the future. 

As an individual, you can also contribute to sustainability by adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. For example, the 6 Rs of sustainability are a great framework that can help you along the way to become more eco-friendly in your life.

I hope that this article helped you to better understand the importance of sustainable development and why this issue is important for human and economic development. Those ambitious goals can’t be achieved unless most of us contribute to them and become more “green”. Are you taking action to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle? Leave us a comment below!

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