The Millennium Development Goals run will have run their course by 2015, and there’s a good deal of debate going on about what should replace them. One key aspect of the debate is that the MDGs never integrated sustainability into development goals, and climate change wasn’t even included. There was no recognition that, if separated, development and sustainability can work against each other.
Whatever the post-millennium goals might be, it’s a good opportunity to hardwire sustainability into the development agenda, argues Alex Evans of New York University.
“Climate, scarcity, unsustainability and development have long since morphed into a single challenge” he writes. “Poverty reduction is the first casualty of unsustainability, with poor people disproportionately reliant on natural assets and vulnerable to climate and scarcity risks. At the same time, current models of development are also the main driver of unsustainability”.
Sustainability is a clunky and much maligned term, but sustainable development is essentially progress that can be maintained long term. That shouldn’t be controversial. “Development that is not sustainable is not worth having” says Evans, “given that unsustainable models of development will only end up a victim of their own success.”