This article is written by Sushree Sipra Sahu, a student of B.A. LL.B at Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Andhra Pradesh.


Sustainable Development is a concept that is taught to everyone in their secondary schools. The very nomenclature gives the impression of development by sustaining. But the question that needs to be answered is what needs to be sustained and what development is covered in the concept of sustainable development. The ‘Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future’ lays down the definition of sustainable development to be the kind of development which would likely fulfil the requirements of the present generation while keeping in mind that such development does not hamper the availability of resources for the needs of the future generations. By resources, it is not only meant, the exhaustive resources of the world but also the societal resources and services that are used for various developmental activities of the mankind.


The United Nations Conference on Environment and Growth in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 was founded on the principle of sustainable development. The summit was the first effort at a global level to establish action plans and strategies for moving toward a more sustainable development pattern. About 100 heads of state and delegates from 178 countries were in attendance. Representatives from a variety of other civil society organisations were also present at the Summit. The Brundtland Commission, in its 1987 report Our Common Future, proposed sustainable development as a solution to the problems of environmental degradation.

The Brundtland Report’s mission was to look at a number of issues that had been posed in previous decades, namely, that human activity was having serious and detrimental effects on the world, and that unregulated growth and development trends would be unsustainable. 

In 1972, at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, the principle of sustainable development gained its first significant international recognition. While the term was not used specifically, the international community decided that both growth and the environment, which had previously been treated as separate problems, should now be treated in a way that would be beneficial to both.

Major world leaders did not recognise sustainable development as a major challenge until the Rio Summit, which took place in 1992.

In 2002, 191 national governments, UN agencies, multilateral financial institutions, and other major groups gathered in Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development to assess progress after Rio. Three major results emerged from the Johannesburg Summit: a strategic declaration, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, and a number of cooperation initiatives. Sustainable consumption and development, water and sanitation, and electricity were among the main commitments.


The United Nations Organisation has set 17 goals of Sustainable Development that needs to be achieved. The Sustainable Development Goals aim at establishing protection of the planet and ensuring peace and prosperity by the year 2030. These goals are interlinked and impact the other areas as well when there is any action on any of the other areas to be achieved. The countries have committed to the pledge of ‘Leave No One Behind’. The targets are to be reached by everyone from the society in every context.

  1. No Poverty
  2. Zero Hunger
  3. Good Health and Well – Being
  4. Quality Education
  5. Gender Equality
  6. Clean Water and Sanitization
  7. Affordable and Clean energy
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  10. Reduced Inequalities
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production
  13. Climate Action
  14. Life Below Water
  15. Life on Land
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  17. Partnerships for the Goals


The definition of sustainability appears to be primed to continue to shape future architecture science debates. According to Porter and van der Linde (1995), the best options are those that fulfil societal needs while still being environmentally and economically sustainable, economically and socially equal, and socially and environmentally tolerable.

SD emphasises a positive transition trajectory anchored primarily on social, economic, and environmental factors as a visionary and forward-looking growth model. Economic growth, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion are the three key concerns of sustainable development. The definition of SD is based on three conceptual pillars: “economic sustainability,” “social sustainability,” and “environmental sustainability.”


A critical component of the SDGs is that their development goals and targets are essentially associated however interlinked. It is contended that the SDGs involve complementarities or collaborations just as compromises or strains which have suggestions for worldwide and public settings. The complementarities suggest that tending to one objective could assist with tending to some others simultaneously. For example, tending to issues of environmental change could have co-benefits for energy security, wellbeing, biodiversity, and seas. What should be noted is that, the SDGs are not independent goals. They are interconnected, suggesting that accomplishing one objective prompts accomplishing another and, consequently, they ought to be viewed as irreplaceable pieces in a major and complex riddle. To exploit the complementarities among the SDGs, a few creators recommends that the different nations audit the various focuses to distinguish the ones destined to be synergist just as those that have multi-pronged effects, while likewise expecting to execute the whole plan. This decision would need to be educated by country-explicit needs and asset accessibility. It is likewise important that as a result of the complementarities of large numbers of the goals and target regions, a solitary marker may serve to quantify progress across certain goals and targets. 

The complementarities and collaborations to the side, the SDGs likewise have compromises and pressures which accompany troublesome options that may bring about champs and washouts, at any rate temporarily. For instance, biodiversity could be compromised if timberlands are chopped down for reasons for expanding rural creation for food security, while food security could be in harm’s way if food crops are changed to biofuel creation for energy security. The ramifications is that, finding some kind of harmony between accomplishing significant degrees of monetary development that adds to destitution decrease and the conservation of the climate isn’t simple. 

It is additionally contended that the SDGs have contending partner intrigues joined to them; handling the issue of environmental change (Goal 13) is a genuine illustration of the contending interest. That is, those influenced temporarily, for example, petroleum product business substances and their laborers would see themselves as “failures” in the event that they are constrained to change, despite the fact that society in general will be a definitive “victor” in the long haul by keeping away from the dangers and effects of environmental change proceeds with that the compromises can introduce administration issues, on account of complex issues inside the SDGs where the interests of various partners struggle. Another key test is guaranteeing duty and responsibility for progress towards meeting the SDGs. A few observers, analysts and scholastics are of the assessment that this calls for suitable markers and methods of checking and assessing progress on the SDGs, particularly at the public level. In such manner, it is imperative to quantify the two information sources and yield to check whether the different nations are contributing what they set out to contribute via tending to the issues, just as following results to check on the off chance that they are really accomplishing the define goals and targets. 

The UN Conference on SD, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2012, carried some central points of interest to the front, including respectable positions, energy, sustainable urban communities, food security and sustainable horticulture, water, seas and debacle preparation which call for need consideration. Nearby food and agribusiness for example, assesses that around 800 million individuals are undernourished worldwide, and around 220 million hectares of extra land would be expected to take care of the world’s developing populace by 2030. An expected estimation of income and reserve funds from accomplishing the SDGs in food and horticulture is $2.3 trillion. The main three chances in food frameworks are food squander decrease, reforestation and development of low-pay food markets which are assessed to make 71 million positions in the food markets, remembering 21 million across Africa and 22 million for India, where abundant cropland and current low profitability prepare for development. 

Over portion of the worldwide populace as of now dwells in metropolitan zones and this is required to build further to 66% by 2050. This will make financial expenses and advantages in numerous areas. Organizations can exploit making sound and liveable urban communities to extend their tasks, subsequently boosting work. Likely benefit from accomplishing the SDGs in urban communities is assessed at $3.7 trillion with roughly 166 million new openings being in the territories of building, vehicle effectiveness, reasonable lodging, and other metropolitan freedoms. More than 1.5 billion extra energy shoppers are expected by 2030 which is assessed to make around 86 million positions and income of $4.3 trillion through possible result of roundabout models, sustainable power, energy productivity and energy access. Moreover, about $1.8 trillion income is conceivably accessible from improved medical care that exploits mechanical development and different upgrades regarding the worldwide wellbeing framework, which is relied upon to make around 46 million positions through new business openings in wellbeing. 

Furthermore, harmless to the ecosystem foundation is required for expanded monetary yield and efficiency have called attention to that framework interest in non-industrial nations should increment from US$0.9 trillion to US$2.3 trillion every year by 2020. These figures incorporate a measure of US$200–$300 billion needed to guarantee that framework involves lower emanations and more versatility to environmental change. A moderately low gauge of the complete yearly environmental change alleviation and transformation costs through 2030 is $249 billion; and this tends to just a single danger (an Earth-wide temperature boost) to the worldwide natural lodge. Notwithstanding, official development help (ODA) comprises a generally little pool of account, at roughly $130 billion every year. Different expenses of executing the SDG incorporate dangers of over-abuse and the enormous monetary assets required for the different ventures. These show a portion of the financial expenses and advantages of SD yet measurements for evaluating the effects of SDGs stay disputable. 

Given the discussion about the expenses and advantages, the compromises, complementarities and intricacies innate in the SDGs, the relevant inquiry that emerges identifies with how the UN can make nations regard the SDGs. In such manner, it is prudent that the UN considers diverse public real factors, limits and levels of development and regard public approaches and needs, guaranteeing that they are centered around SD. Albeit all the SDGs apply by and large to both creating and created nations, the difficulties they present might be diverse in various public settings. In this way, UN ought to underscore all inclusiveness with country-explicit way to deal with the worldwide goals. The UN could present for the created nations like the US, UK, Japan and Canada to economically change their own social orders and economies while adding to accomplishing SD in the non-industrial nations. The UN should uphold nations by encouraging methodologies that are helpful for significant cooperation, commitment and exchange just as limit working for all nations. The UN could advance great administration and backing comprehensive training, guideline and proficient asset assignment altogether nations. The UN could advance proper innovation and development as proof shows that the compromise among ecological and financial results, for example, can be defeated using suitable innovation. Most importantly, the UN ought to include governments, yet additionally other key partners like private area, NGOs, and common society in the worldwide plan and make input circles to consider all capable substances responsible to ensure that the SDGs are really carried out.


Agricultural biodiversity has decreased by over 90% in many regions; well over half of the available water sources are contaminated beyond drinking and even beyond agricultural use; and two-thirds of the land is degraded to varying levels of sub-opt. According to a 2008 report by the Global Footprint Network and the Confederation of Indian Industries, India has the world’s third largest ecological footprint, its resource consumption is now double its bio-capacity, and its bio-capacity has decreased by half in the last few decades.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Conference of Parties (COP 21) successfully concluded in Paris after intensive negotiations by the Parties and the adoption of the Paris Agreement on post-2020 climate change actions. The Kyoto Protocol will be replaced by this universal agreement. It offers a basis for all countries, unlike the Kyoto Protocol. The Paris Agreement, which emphasises concepts such as climate justice and healthy lifestyles, brings all nations under the UNFCCC for the first time for a common cause. One of the agreement’s key goals is to keep global average temperature rises well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and to encourage attempts to keep them even lower at 1.5°.


SD has gotten a lot of support from academics, government officials, planners, and construction interventionists. It appears to have been adopted by a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organisations as an acceptable development model. This is because most, if not all, adherents and supporters of the paradigm seem to agree that the problems facing humanity today, such as climate change, ozone depletion, water scarcity, loss of vegetation, inequality, insecurity, hunger, deprivation, and poverty, can be resolved by following the tenets and concepts of SD.

SD’s ultimate goal is to strike a balance between environmental, economic, and social sustainability, making these the foundations on which SD is built. Although not taking a definite stand, the provision of adequate health services, stability and respect for human rights, decent jobs, gender equality, quality education, and the rule of law are all factors that lead to society’s long-term viability.

SD cannot be accomplished by individual programmes, but rather through multi-level efforts that include social, environmental, and economic factors. Disentangling complex relationships among the objectives and their targets will be essential for the SDGs to be implemented successfully. Realizing the potentials of its main dimensional foundations will be needed for an integrated approach to sustainability.

SD thrives on people’s engagement, so public involvement should be improved in order to put the idea into motion. All must understand and accept that their sustainability, as well as the survival of future generations, is contingent on responsible consumption and development, environmental stewardship, and progressive social values. Only by combining the pillars can negative effects be avoided.