The Environmental Sustainability Goals: 2035

Following on from the outcome of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2030, a new set of six goals was created all focused on environmental issues. In the last 30 years’ world poverty has been at an all-time low, with it currently being at a minor 1.04%. Although this statistic shows a great improvement, we must still take into account the continually rapid growth of world population over the last 30 years. The worlds current population is now 9.3 billion, therefore 1% of the world’s population is a greater number of people than it is was in 2016 (Roser & Ortiz-Ospina, 2016). Whilst not all of the goals were ‘achieved’, great progress was made. However, by having 17 targets it was inevitable that some would be left behind, and not have received as much attention as necessary. Unfortunately, the majority of the goals which were not as successful were the ones regarding the environment.

There has now been a paradigm shift, and environmental sustainability is at the forefront of the UN’s global targets. In 2035 the Environmental Sustainability Goals were launched, with the aim for them to be reached by 2050. With only 4 years to go till they are set to be achieved, the goals are proving a success. Through having less goals than the previous initiatives, it has allowed countries to focus and put much more attention on each individual goal. So far the results have been extremely positive.

The goals include: Achieving 50% renewable energy. For some countries this was not a huge leap, as in 2014 almost 40% of Denmark’s energy was produced from wind turbines alone (5 countries leading the way toward 100% renewable energy, 2015). Over the last 30 year’s huge amount of funding has been invested in the implementation of renewable energy techniques, such as wind turbines, solar panels, and hydroelectric turbines. The second of the goals is to reduce the levels of deforestation; Huge amounts of deforestation were used for cattle farming; the aim of this goal was to reduce beef consumption, through the implementation of tariffs and quotas, in order to reduce the destruction caused by the beef industry. A lot of attention has and is being put on this goal, due to the issue that trees are not only a huge carbon sink, but the energy needed and exerted during deforestation was a huge contributor to carbon emissions. Goal Three was to reduce water stress to just 12%. Previously the estimates for the increase in water-stress was huge. Charites estimated it would increase to 48% by 2030 (WRAP, 2015).  However, following on from the implementation of these goals, we are able to maintain the level of water stress, despite rapid population growth, with some countries also having decreasing levels of this stress.  This goal has proved to be one of the more difficult goals to achieve as there is no easy solution; over the last 30 years’ results have shown that education has been the most effective tool to reach this target. Through educating people on water consumption and their lifestyles, it has made this goal far more achievable than it would be without education. There remaining three goals are regarding carbon footprint, loss of biodiversity and ocean acidification.

Although environmental sustainability has rarely been at the front of global politics, over the past 30 years it has been. As a global community we are now aware that we could no longer continue with the way were living before the goals, and that something needed to change. In the last 30 years that change has happened, and we are now on our way to living more environmentally sustainable.

 

Roser, M. and Ortiz-Ospina, E. (2016) World population growth. Available at: https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth/ (16 December 2016).

WRAP – The Waste and Resource Action Programme (2015) Our mission. Available at: http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/WRAP-Plan-Resource-Revolution-Creating-the-Future.pdf ( 17 December 2016).

5 countries leading the way toward 100% renewable energy (2015) Available at: http://www.ecowatch.com/5-countries-leading-the-way-toward-100-renewable-energy-1881999459.html (16 December 2016).

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