Sustainable Development

sustainable development leed

What Is Sustainable Development?

As the United Nations first defined the term in 1987, sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” It is also commonly defined as “economic development that is conducted without depletion of natural resources,” according to The Green Connection

People often only consider economics when growing businesses, buildings, cities, etc, without considering how sustainable their actions are in other ways — for example, in terms of the climate, the overall economy, equality, public health, the community, and more. Sustainable development is the idea that we need to consider how actions will affect the future as well as the present, in ways besides economically. 

Why Is Sustainable Development Important?

As the Sustainable Development Commission explains, the central goal of sustainable development is to balance the varying needs and limitations that our society faces. This is a challenge because sometimes these goals can conflict with each other. But if we do not work to achieve them, there will be dire consequences — and since respecting the environment is at the core of sustainable development, one of the most significant consequences of unsustainable development is the climate crisis deepening.

What Are the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals?

The UN has 17 Sustainable Development Goals, each of which addresses issues being faced all over the world. The UN has specific targets regarding each goal that it aims to achieve by 2030.

Here are the UN's 17 goals for sustainable development, along with some facts courtesy of the UN:

  1. No poverty — 783 million people live below the poverty line.
  2. Zero hunger — 815 million people on Earth are malnourished.
  3. Good health and well-being — The UN’s central health goals are to improve child health, maternal health, and infectious viruses and diseases like HIV/Aids and malaria.
  4. Quality education — 57 million children elementary school-aged children are not in school.
  5. Gender equality — There are still 49 countries that do not have laws protecting women and girls from physical and sexual violence.
  6. Clean water and sanitation — Poor economics and infrastructure issues have lead to 3 in 10 people worldwide not having access to clean drinking water, according to the UN.
  7. Affordable and clean energy — 13 percent of people on Earth do not have access to modern electricity, as per the UN.
  8. Decent work and economic growth — Worldwide, the workforce still favors men over women in many ways.
  9. Industries, innovation, and infrastructure — A lack of basic infrastructure in developing countries stands in the way of achieving other goals on the list.
  10. Reduced inequalities — We need more policies to combat the widespread inequalities against children, women, racial minorities, people with disabilities, and developing countries.
  11. Sustainable cities and communities — This goal is all about allowing cities and communities to grow while respecting the environment, in terms of things such as land, resources, housing, infrastructure, and pollution.
  12. Responsible consumption and production — Considering the world’s ever-growing population and our exponential need for resources, making sure we are responsibly producing and using our resources is more important than ever. 
  13. Climate action — Since the climate crisis is a global issue, the UN believes that developed nations from all over the world need to work together to help each other as well as help developing countries.
  14. Life below water — Protecting our oceans (as well as the animals who live in them) is one of the most important things we can do for the planet.
  15. Life on land — The UN emphasizes the importance of protecting our forests, which cover 30.7 percent of the Earth’s surface, and have so many positive impacts on the environment.
  16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions — Everything on this list sounds like an issue we need to overcome in order to achieve world peace, but this item is really all about it. To help reduce violence and crime rates worldwide, we need to work to reduce corruption in institutions such as the police and judicial authorities.
  17. Partnerships for the goals — This goal is all about forging relationships between governments, the private sector, and communities all over the world. 

How Can Achieving Sustainable Development Benefit the Earth?

As you can see, many of the Sustainable Development Goals directly address issues related to the Earth and the climate. The UN believes that achieving the targets set by 2030 will significantly help improve those issues, therefore bettering the planet and hopefully curtailing the climate crisis.

How Can We Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals?

The UN has a series of specific targets that will help achieve all 17 goals. The targets are fairly broad, so in order to accomplish them, we need to get legislators all over the world to pass laws regulating sustainable development. It is also important to get corporations to commit to more sustainable business practices. One small yet significant way governments and corporations are doing this is by building LEED certified buildings.

What is LEED Certification for Buildings?

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, known as LEED, is a global program that awards buildings with outstanding environmentally-friendly designs. LEED is the most popular green building rating system on Earth, and it takes into account energy-efficiency, resource-efficiency, cost-effectiveness, construction practices, and more when considering buildings for the LEED certification. 

Well-known buildings with LEED plaques include: New York’s One World Trade Center and One Bryant Park, China’s Shanghai Tower and Jin Mao Tower, California’s Facebook HQ, and Connecticut’s Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

While LEED is best known for its building certifications, LEED plaques can also be awarded for green interior design, homes, neighborhood development, and building maintenance practices.

What Is Sustainable Urban Planning?

Another way that governments are helping with sustainable development is via sustainable urban planning, also known as city planning or town planning. City planning is the process of planning and organizing how a city works, including everything from the roads to the buildings to the use of natural resources to public transportation.

According to the University of Texas Arlington (UTA), sustainable urban planning encompasses a variety of professions coming together in order to build and maintain cities and towns with sustainable practices. Those professions include “architecture, engineering, biology, environmental science, materials science, law, transportation, technology, economic development, accounting and finance, and government,” as per UTA.

The fact that so many disciplines need to work together for effective and sustainable city planning sheds some light on why local government work has a reputation for being so slow-moving. Even when bureaucrats have an amazing idea that will make their town more sustainable, they have to go through a lot of red tape before their idea can actually come to fruition.

How Will the Paris Agreement Help With Global Sustainable Development?

The Paris Agreement is a landmark accord that leaders from countries all over the world signed in 2016. The agreement’s main goal is for every nation to work together to keep the Earth’s overall temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would help fight the climate crisis.

What Is Sustainable Infrastructure Development?

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, it’s imperative to attain a sustainable infrastructure across governments, as that will “trigger sustainability improvements across a host of industries.” So before we can fully solve issues like hunger, clean water, and proper sanitation, we need to improve infrastructure all over the world.

What Jobs Are There in Sustainable Development? 

As the world becomes more and more concerned with protecting the planet for future generations, jobs in sustainable development will only continue to grow. According to Columbia University, work fields related to sustainable development include: public health, city planning, preservation management, environmental laws, government, journalism, public relations, technical writing, community development, education, and corporate social responsibility.

Most Recent

  • Toyko Olympics Sustainability

    Sustainability at the Tokyo Olympics: A Look Into the Recycled Medals, Podiums, and Eco Initiatives

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • Sustainable Shipping

    Sustainable Shipping Options to Lower Your Small Business' Environmental Impact

    By Lizzy Rosenberg
  • How eco-friendly is bamboo?

    Bamboo: Is It As Eco-Friendly As Everyone Seems to Think?

    By Andrew Krosofsky
  • 3D-printing wood by Forust

    This Startup is 3D-Printing Wood Made From Upcycled Sawdust (Exclusive)

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant

    New York Power Plant, Indian Point, Shuts Down — Will This Help or Hurt the Environment?

    By Lizzy Rosenberg
  • What is eco brutalism?

    Eco Brutalism: Why Is the Architectural Style So Controversial?

    By Andrew Krosofsky
  • Which states allow tiny home?

    Tiny Homes Aren't Legal in Every State — Here's Why

    By Andrew Krosofsky
  • Fukushima Power Plant

    Fukushima: About the 2011 Nuclear Disaster, Updates, and More

    By Lizzy Rosenberg
  • What is an Earthship?

    How Earthships Are Changing the Face of Sustainable Living

    By Andrew Krosofsky
  • How is Curitiba sustainable?

    How Curitiba, Brazil Became One of the Most Sustainable Cities on Earth

    By Andrew Krosofsky
  • What is eco consulting?

    How Eco Consulting Can Help Businesses Be More Sustainable

    By Andrew Krosofsky
  • Rwanda E-Waste Crisis

    Rwanda Is One of Few Countries to Manage and Regulate E-Waste on a National Level

    By Lizzy Rosenberg
  • California Fracking Ban

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom Expresses Support to Ban Fracking

    By Lizzy Rosenberg
  • vancouver homeless

    How Vancouver, B.C. Is Combatting the Housing Crisis With Tiny Townhouses

    By Lizzy Rosenberg
  • bill de blasio fracking

    Is the North Brooklyn Pipeline Officially Shut Down? Mayor de Blasio Speaks Out

    By Lizzy Rosenberg
  • Why Deforestation Is a Problem

    Wondering Why Deforestation Is Such a Big Deal? Here Are the Facts

    By Kate Brierley
  • gm hse youngclimateactivists thumb

    4 Young Climate Activists on Intersectionality in Climate Justice, Fighting From Home, and More

    In honor of Earth Day, we interviewed four young women fighting for climate justice.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • airline emissions bailout covid

    Airlines Must Fly Certain Routes — Even Without Passengers — to Qualify for Bailout Money

    Here's why airline emissions have dropped — but probably not as much as you would've expected. 

    By Carly Sitzer
  • getty

    We Can Completely Revitalize the World’s Oceans by 2050, New Study Finds

    Oceans could once again flourish in 2050 — if we make the effort.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • carbon emissions dropped in

    CO2 Power Sector Emissions Significantly Dropped in 2019, Thanks to Slow Shift Away from Coal

    Shifting away from coal and towards renewables helped the Earth's CO2 emissions go slightly down in 2019.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • Paris Agreement

    What Is the Paris Agreement? Everything You've Been Wondering About the Landmark Climate Accord

    Here's exactly what the Paris Agreement does.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • un sustainable development goals

    What Are the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN?

    As we well know by now, climate change and other environmental issues are not any one person’s concern. They are all of our concerns. That’s why recent coverage of climate change has been calling for international cooperation on all sides.

    By Stephanie Osmanski
  • the ocean cleanup innovation

    10 of the Decade's Best Climate Innovations

    The 2010s were filled with innovations that are helping our planet.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • global warming effects

    What Are the Effects of Global Warming? A Deep Dive Into Climate Change

    While you may already know that the effects of global warming are bad and that climate change will inevitably lead to crisis (if we’re not there already), you may be wondering what the in-depth effects of global warming actually are. 

    By Stephanie Osmanski
  • greta thunberg jair bolsonaro

    Greta Thunberg Has Perfect Response to Brazilian President Calling Her a "Pirralha"

    Greta made a simple yet bold move.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • best environmental charities donate

    Best Environmental Charities to Donate To

    Fight the climate crisis with your dollar.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • reduce carbon footprint

    How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home, At School, and More

    There are so many easy ways to lower your carbon footprint around the house.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • earth overshoot day

    Today Marks the Earliest Earth Overshoot Day in History — Here's How We Can Slow Things Down

    We are in debt to our planet.

    By Sophie Hirsh
  • thala beach nature reserve main lodge

    5 Breathtaking Eco-Friendly Hotels and Resorts From Around the World

    These green hotels are also incredibly gorgeous.

    By Sophie Hirsh
    • CONNECT with Green Matters
    • Link to Facebook
    • Link to Twitter
    • Link to Instagram
    • Link to Email Subscribe
    Green Matters Logo
    Do Not Sell My Personal Information

    © Copyright 2021 Green Matters. Green Matters is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.