Global Sustainable Development Report - Brief 1
UN-DESA, 2013
There has been a large amount of scientific literature on sustainable development since the late 1960s. Natural and social scientists highlighted a series of sustainable development issues and recommended integrated policy action in many areas, e.g., on development, poverty, hunger, employment, equity between generations and countries, gender equality, environmental pollution, resource scarcity, and on the “means” to achieve policy objectives in these areas, such as technology, finance, capacity building, trade, etc. The Brundtland report of 1987, entitled Our Common Future, popularized the concept of sustainable development which was subsequently adopted by Governments at the Earth Summit of 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, together with a set of Rio Principles and a global action plan, Agenda 21, which included many goals and targets.

In 1999, the US National Research Council published a book entitled Our Common Journey. It was the first comprehensive global sustainable development report, albeit with a US perspective as a starting point. In 2012, the Secretariat for Rio+20 in collaboration with 178 scientists produced a series of reports under the SD21 project financed by the European Union in preparation for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (“Rio+20”). The SD21 project documented the range of perspectives among scientists on sustainable development issues with a view to identifying common ground. However, to-date, there exists no global sustainable development report which would comprehensively look at global progress and outlook in a truly integrated way, taking into account the range of perspectives in different scientific communities across the world. This is despite the policy prominence and despite the existence of many topical assessments.

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