“Climate change and other global environmental threats will increasingly become serious barriers to further human development,” says lead author Professor David Griggs from Monash University in Australia. Humans are transforming Earth’s life support system — the atmosphere, oceans, waterways, forests, ice sheets and biodiversity that allow us to thrive and prosper — in ways “likely to undermine development gains”, he adds.
The team asserts that the classic model of sustainable development, of three integrated pillars — economic, social and environmental — that has served nations and the UN for over a decade, is flawed and does not reflect reality.
“As the global population increases towards eight billion people sustainable development should be seen as an economy serving society within Earth’s life support system, not as three pillars,” says co-author Dr. Priya Shyamsundar from the South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, Nepal.
The six goals
The new set of goals — thriving lives and livelihoods, food security, water security, clean energy, healthy and productive ecosystems, and governance for sustainable societies — aim to resolve this conflict. The targets beneath each goal include updates and expanded targets under the MDGs, including ending poverty and hunger, combating HIV/aids, and improving maternal and child health.
But also a set of planetary “must haves”: climate stability, reducing biodiversity loss, protection of ecosystem services, a healthy water cycle and oceans, sustainable nitrogen and phosphorus use, clean air and sustainable material use.
Co-author Dr. Mark Stafford Smith, science director of CSIRO’s climate adaptation research programme in Australia says: