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Using the sustainable development goals towards a better understanding of sustainability challenges

Leal Filho, W and Tripathi, SK and Andrade Guerra, JBSOD and Giné-Garriga, R and Orlovic Lovren, V and Willats, J (2018) Using the sustainable development goals towards a better understanding of sustainability challenges. International Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology, 26 (2). pp. 179-190. ISSN 1350-4509


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The United Nations General Assembly agreed and approved in September 2015 the document ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, which contains a set of measures aiming to balance economic progress and protection of the environment, whilst at the same time remain aware of the need to address the many disparities still seen between industrialised and developing countries. The Agenda document consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which among many other tasks, intend to eradicate poverty and create better health conditions in both developed and developing countries. But despite the need for and the relevance of the SDGs, it is unclear how they may help to address present and future sustainability challenges. Based on the need to shed some light on such a relationship, this paper describes each of the SDGs, and offers an analysis of the extent to which their implementation may offer support to ongoing attempts to handle some of the pressing problems seen in pursuing sustainable development. Three case studies are presented to show in practice how best the SDGs can be handled. The paper concludes that the process of implementing the SDGs offers unrivalled opportunities to advance equal opportunity and foster economic empowerment, helping countries to promote the cause of sustainable development in their territories, hence benefiting their populations.

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