"Be a gardener.
Dig a ditch,
toil and sweat,
and turn the earth upside down
and seek the deepness
and water the plants in time.
Continue this labor
and make sweet floods to run
and noble and abundant fruits
Take this food and drink
and carry it to God
as your true worship."
Julian of Norwich
The world is faced with challenges in all three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. For instance, more than 1 billion people are still living in extreme poverty, income inequality within and among many countries has been rising and, at the same time, unsustainable consumption levels and production patterns have resulted in huge economic and social costs and may endanger life on the planet.
The World Economic and Social Survey 2013 contributes to the deliberations on addressing sustainable development challenges with a focus on three important cross-sectoral issues identified for action and follow-up at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development: sustainable cities, food security and energy transformation.
Sustainable development strategies need to be inclusive and take special care of the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable. Strategies need to be ambitious, action-oriented and collaborative. They will need to change consumption and production patterns systemically, which might entail, inter alia, significant price corrections; encourage the preservation of natural endowments; reduce inequality; and strengthen economic governance.
"In a lecture delivered at Stanford University, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described the current state of the world and "the future we must shape together." He outlined three ways to navigate our way through this "Great Transition," namely by advancing sustainable development, helping people meet their aspirations for democracy and dignity, and empowering women and young people.
On the sustainable development challenge, Ban underscored that he has made sustainable development the leading priority of the UN. He stressed the need to urgently "change course" to build the clean energy, low-carbon
"At the current rate, we will soon need two planet earths. But we have only one planet. There can be no Plan B because there is no planet B. Both science and economics tell us that we need to change course – and soon."
economy of tomorrow that will address the challenge of climate change. Noting the size of the economy of California, he noted that the state has "a special role" to play in spurring the on-going climate negotiations in order to reach a global, legally binding agreement on climate by 2015.
Ban also mentioned his Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), stressing that California can contribute to efforts made to reach the goals set by the Initiative, namely to ensure universal access to modern energy services, double energy efficiency, and double the renewable energy share in the overall global energy mix. In concluding, Ban stated that "this time of Great Transition is also a period of great opportunity." [UN Secretary-General's Statement] [UN Press Release]
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (SDGs)
The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), due to expire in 2015, are being reformulated into a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a renewed attempt to address the global scale and complexity issues involved in sustaining both people and planet. Six interconnected goals are under consideration: thriving lives and livelihoods, food security, water security, clean energy, healthy and productive ecosystems, and governance for sustainable societies. Reportedly, "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 they also define a set of planetary "must haves": climate stability, the reduction biodiversity loss, protection of ecosystem services, a healthy water cycle and oceans, sustainable nitrogen and phosphorus use, clean air and sustainable material use."
PRELIMINARY DEFINITION OF THE SDGs
1. End Poverty
2. Empower Girls and Women and Achieve Gender Equality
3. Provide Quality Education and Lifelong Learning
4. Ensure Health Lives
5. Ensure Food Security and Good Nutrition
6. Achieve Universal Access to Water and Sanitation
7. Secure Sustainable Energy
8. Create Jobs, Sustainable Livelihoods, and Equitable Growth
9. Manage Natural Resource Assets Sustainably
10. Ensure Good Governance and Effective Institutions
11. Ensure Stable and Peaceful Societies
12. Create a Global Enabling Environment and Catalyze Long-Term Finance
Source: UN MDGs SDGs HL Report, 30 May 2013
The 2013 Human Development Report (HDR) – "The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World" – was launched 14 March 2013 in Mexico City. It examines the profound shift in global dynamics that is being driven by the fast-rising powers of the developing world - and the implications of this phenomenon for human development. Excerpts:
"The rise of the South is radically reshaping the world of the 21st century, with developing nations driving economic growth, lifting
hundreds of millions of people from poverty, and propelling billions more into a new global middle class, says the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) 2013 Human Development Report. "The rise of the South is unprecedented in its speed and scale,"
the 2013 Report says. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast."
"The 2013 Human Development Index (HDI) Report shows major gains since 2000 in most countries of the South. Over the past decades, countries across the world have been converging towards higher levels of human development, as shown by the Human Development Index," says the 2013 Report. "All groups and regions have seen notable improvement in all HDI components, with faster progress in low and medium HDI countries. On this basis, the world is becoming less unequal."
"Environmental inaction, especially regarding climate change, has the potential to halt or even reverse human development progress."
"The comprehensive report presents IHDP's scientific and policy research on the most pressing challenges and opportunities of the human dimensions of global environmental change. In 2012, with the new Future Earth beginning to take shape, IHDP strived to ensure a leading role for the social sciences throughout the ongoing transition, while maintaining its proactive efforts in the science-policy sphere."
IEA World Energy Outlook Facts & Graphs
McKinsey Resources & Urban World
OECD Country Statistics & Outlooks
UNDP Human Development Database
UNEP Issues for the 21st Century
UNEP Global Environmental Outlook
UNEP Environmental Data Explorer
World Bank Country Statistics
Corporate Sustainability Research, Analysis, and Tools
WRI: Aqueduct Water Resource Maps
WRI: Corporate Ecosystem Services
WRI: Greenhouse Gas Protocol
WRI: Stories to Watch
WRI: Profits & Sustainability Alignment
BCG & MIT Sustainability Tipping Points
Sustainable Business Modeling Tool
KPMG: Expect the Unexpected
Oxfam, CERES, and Calvert Investments
Physical Risks from Climate Change
WBCSD Vision 2050
Berkeley Earth video representation of the land surface temperature anomaly, 1800 to the present. The map of the world shows the temperature anomaly by location over time. The chart at the bottom, shows the global land-surface temperature anomaly. The Berkeley Earth analysis shows 0.911 degrees Centigrade of land warming (+/- 0.042 C) since the 1950s.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is based on four indicators: life expectancy at birth, mean years of schooling, expected years of schooling, and gross national income per capita; and three dimensions: health, education, and living standards
GPI takes income distribution into account, along with household and volunteer work and the costs of natural, social, and human capital depletion. This is the first synthesis of national GPI studies to get a global estimate.
This analysis shows that global GPI/capita peaked in 1978. This means that globally the external costs of economic growth have outweighed the benefits since 1978. Globally, GPI/capita does not increase beyond a GDP/capita of around $6,500/capita.
A NASA-led modeling study provides new evidence that global warming may increase the risk for extreme rainfall and drought.
Model simulations spanning 140 years show that warming from carbon dioxide will change the frequency that regions around the planet receive no rain (brown), moderate rain (tan), and very heavy rain (blue). The occurrence of no rain and heavy rain will increase, while moderate rainfall will decrease. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio
The study shows for the first time how rising carbon dioxide concentrations could affect the entire range of rainfall types on Earth.
Analysis of computer simulations from 14 climate models indicates wet regions of the world, such as the equatorial Pacific Ocean and Asian monsoon regions, will see increases in heavy precipitation because of warming resulting from projected increases in carbon dioxide levels. Arid land areas outside the tropics and many regions with moderate rainfall could become drier.
The analysis provides a new assessment of global warming's impacts on precipitation patterns around the world. The study was accepted for publication in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters.
"In response to carbon dioxide-induced warming, the global water cycle undergoes a gigantic competition for moisture resulting in a global pattern of increased heavy rain, decreased moderate rain, and prolonged droughts in certain regions," said William Lau of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and lead author of the study.
The models project for every 1 degree Fahrenheit of carbon dioxide-induced warming, heavy rainfall will increase globally by 3.9 percent and light rain will increase globally by 1 percent. However, total global rainfall is not projected to change much because moderate rainfall will decrease globally by 1.4 percent.
Heavy rainfall is defined as months that receive an average of more than about 0.35 of an inch per day. Light rain is defined as months that receive an average of less than 0.01 of an inch per day. Moderate rainfall is defined as months that receive an average of between about 0.04 to 0.09 of an inch per day.
Areas projected to see the most significant increase in heavy rainfall are in the tropical zones around the equator, particularly in the Pacific Ocean and Asian monsoon regions.
Some regions outside the tropics may have no rainfall at all. The models also projected for every degree Fahrenheit of warming, the length of periods with no rain will increase globally by 2.6 percent. In the Northern Hemisphere, areas most likely to be affected include the deserts and arid regions of the southwest United States, Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, and northwestern China. In the Southern Hemisphere, drought becomes more likely in South Africa, northwestern Australia, coastal Central America and northeastern Brazil.
"Large changes in moderate rainfall, as well as prolonged no-rain events, can have the most impact on society because they occur in regions where most people live," Lau said. "Ironically, the regions of heavier rainfall, except for the Asian monsoon, may have the smallest societal impact because they usually occur over the ocean."
Lau and colleagues based their analysis on the outputs of 14 climate models in simulations of 140-year periods. The simulations began with carbon dioxide concentrations at about 280 parts per million -- similar to pre-industrial levels and well below the current level of almost 400 parts per million -- and then increased by 1 percent per year. The rate of increase is consistent with a "business as usual" trajectory of the greenhouse gas as described by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Analyzing the model results, Lau and his co-authors calculated statistics on the rainfall responses for a 27-year control period at the beginning of the simulation, and also for 27-year periods around the time of doubling and tripling of carbon dioxide concentrations. They conclude the model predictions of how much rain will fall at any one location as the climate warms are not very reliable.
"But if we look at the entire spectrum of rainfall types we see all the models agree in a very fundamental way -- projecting more heavy rain, less moderate rain events, and prolonged droughts," Lau said.
The scale of the global sustainable development challenge is unprecedented. The fight against extreme poverty has made great progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but more than 1 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty. Inequality and social exclusion are widening within most countries. With the world at 7 billion people and current annual GDP of US$70 trillion, human impacts on the environment have already reached dangerous levels. As the world population is estimated to rise to 9 billion by 2050
and global GDP to more than US$200 trillion, the world urgently needs a framework for sustainable development that addresses the challenges of ending poverty, increasing social inclusion, and sustaining the planet.
Under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General, and in line with the recently launched High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) was announced on August 9, 2012 and will provide global, open and inclusive support to sustainable-development problem solving at local, national, and global scales. The SDSN will work together with United Nations agencies, other international organizations, and the multilateral funding institutions including the World Bank and regional development banks, to mobilize scientific and technical expertise to scale up the magnitude and quality of local, national and global problem solving, helping to identify solutions and highlighting best practices in the design of long-term development pathways.
Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General on the MDGs, will direct the project with the core aim of creating an open, inclusive, and world-class global network of expertise and problem solving. The network will comprise mainly universities and scientific research institutes, but will also tap technical expertise within technology companies, science foundations and academies of sciences and engineering. Columbia University's Earth Institute will serve as the Secretariat for the Network.
The global network will accelerate joint learning and help to overcome the compartmentalization of technical and policy work by promoting integrated approaches to the interconnected economic, social, and environmental challenges confronting the world.
The network should therefore spawn a new kind of sustained problem solving, in which experts, leaders, and citizens in all parts of the world work together to identify, demonstrate, and implement the most promising paths to sustainable development.
"A new report issued today by a top-level United Nations knowledge network under the auspices of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lays out an action agenda to support global efforts to achieve sustainable development during the period 2015-2030.
"The post-2015 process is a chance for the global community to work towards a new era in sustainable development," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "The latest report from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the result of a collaboration between top scientists, technologists, businesses, and development specialists, is a critical input to the work we are doing to shape an ambitious and achievable post-2015 agenda."
"The Secretary-General created the SDSN to bring together academia, civil society, the private sector, and development practitioners from all parts of the world. The Leadership Council of the SDSN consists of dozens of top global thinkers and development leaders from all regions, rich and poor countries alike.
"It is a great honor for the Leadership Council of SDSN to deliver this new report to the UN Secretary General," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the SDSN and head of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, which hosts the secretariat of the network.
"The report is available online, and an earlier draft has already received thousands of comments from around the world. The council welcomes worldwide discussion of the report, and particularly invites comments from young people. "This report, after all, is about their future," Sachs said.
"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is mobilizing global action around the greatest challenge of our time: sustainable development," Sachs said. "It is no longer good enough for economies to grow. We must also end extreme poverty, a goal within reach by 2030. We must manage the economy to protect rather than destroy the environment. And we must promote a fairer distribution of prosperity, rather than a society divided between the very rich and very poor."
"By many measures, the world is a long way from sustainable development. Many poor countries do not grow adequately, and extreme poverty remains widespread. Humanity is dangerously changing the climate, depleting fresh water supplies, and poisoning the air and water. Most economies are becoming less equitable as well, with widening gaps between the rich and poor. And conflicts remain widespread, with the world’s poorest regions being most vulnerable to violent outbreaks.
"To help get the planet back on course, the world’s governments agreed last year at the Rio+20 Summit to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals. The world’s governments asked the UN Secretary-General to coordinate the preparation of these goals by the year 2015 to make a seamless transition from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A crucial meeting of the UN General Assembly will take place on Sept. 25, 2013 for this purpose.
"Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has put into motion several high-level processes to help devise the SDGs that will have maximum benefit for humanity during the years 2015-2030. First, there is a large outreach of global discussion being led by the UN itself. Second, there are intensive negotiations among governments as called for by the Rio+20 Summit. Third, there is a High-Level Panel of political leaders that has recently issued its report.
"In its report, the SDSN has identified 10 priority challenges of sustainable development:
End extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve development and prosperity for all without ruining the environment
Ensure learning for all children and youth
Achieve gender equality and reduce inequalities
Achieve health and wellbeing at all ages
Increase agricultural production in an environmentally sustainable manner, to achieve food security and rural prosperity
Make cities productive and environmentally sustainable
Curb human-induced climate change with sustainable energy
Protect ecosystems and ensure sound management of natural resources
Improve governance and align business behavior with all the goals
"These 10 priorities can form the basis for the SDGs that would apply to all countries during the years until 2030.
"Well-crafted Sustainable Development Goals will help guide the public’s understanding of complex sustainable development challenges, inspire public and private action, promote integrated thinking, and foster accountability, the report said. The SDGs will complement the tools of international law, such as global treaties and conventions, by providing a shared normative framework. Children everywhere should learn the SDGs, Sachs said, to help them understand the challenges that they will confront as adults. The SDGs will also mobilize governments and the international system to strengthen measurement and monitoring for sustainable development.
"The world has at its disposal the tools to end extreme poverty in all its forms by the year 2030 and to address the sustainable development challenges outlined in this document," Sachs said. "If the world mobilizes around a shared agenda for sustainable development and ambitious, time-bound Sustainable Development Goals, then rapid, positive change on the required scale is feasible, thanks to rising incomes and unprecedented scientific and technological progress. And, we can indeed be the generation that ends extreme poverty, ensures that all people are treated equally, and stems the dangerous climate and environmental risks facing our planet."
UNITED NATIONS World Centre for Sustainable Development launched in Rio PRESS RELEASE UN, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 24 June 2013