Six sustainable development goals, informed by research and with provisional targets for 2030, are proposed by David Griggs and colleagues in a Nature Comment piece to inform discussions at the United Nations in New York on 20–21 March.
“Planetary stability must be integrated with United Nations targets to fight poverty and secure human well-being,” argue the authors, “because humans are transforming the planet in ways that could undermine development gains.” The UN Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012 committed governments to create a set of sustainable development goals (SDGs) that would be integrated into the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after their 2015 deadline.
A growing body of research shows that the atmosphere, oceans, forests, waterways, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles are a prerequisite for a thriving global society, with the human population set to rise to 9 billion by 2050. Defining a unified set of SDGs is challenging, especially when there can be conflict between individual goals, such as energy provision and climate-change prevention. “But we show here that it is possible,” the authors conclude, “by combining the MDGs with global environmental targets drawn from science and from existing international agreements.”