A Research-Based Approach to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A Prerequisite to Sustainable Business and Finance
Posted: 30 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 28, 2020
This paper explores the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the lens of a multidimensional, research-based concept of sustainability. Using the planetary boundaries (Rockström et al. 2009; Steffen et al. 2015) and the ‘safe and just space’ framework (Raworth 2012, 2018), this paper interrogates what a research-based concept of sustainability means for the implementation of the SDGs. We start out with what it means to operating within the limits of our planet, which is the outer framework of sustainability (Section 2). We move on the concept of ‘leaving no-one behind’ in the pursuit of social justice and welfare, which also entails including cultural aspects of sustainability, notably the indigenous peoples’ perspectives, which have been insufficiently integrated (Section 3). Together Sections 2 and 3 form the basis for discussion what role there then is for economic growth as an overarching goal (Section 4), and the recognition of the risk of continued unsustainability (Section 5). This prepares the ground for the discussion of what sustainability entails for market actors, notably business and finance, and for the regulation of them (Section 6). Section 7 summarises the gaps the paper has identified, in research, both conceptually and applied, in policy, and in strategies for achieving sustainability, concluding with reflections on the unprecedented collaboration across and beyond academia that would be required to implement the SDGs in a manner that ensures sustainability.
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