The ecosystems of this planet and a vast range of natural resources are under stress which is likely to increase on account of growth in income and population. The world is faced with challenges in all three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental. A key challenge facing the world sustainable development is promoting sustainable management of natural resources to tackle issues like poverty and exclusion, climate change, and ensuring availability of essential resources such as water, energy and clean air. These issues are especially critical for developing countries which are still in the process of providing a just and equitable standard of living for their citizens. An important dimension of these daunting challenges relates to the oceans and bodies of water across the globe. The coastal ecosystem, which serves as a vital connecting link between land and sea and is source of food, energy and livelihood for millions of people, is under severe threat due to unabated consumption and climate change, endangering the lives and livelihoods of many.
In 2015, the world adopted 17 visionary and comprehensive sustainable development goals. The global community made a historic pledge to follow a sustainable and low-carbon development pathway. Now the need of the hour is to define a collective roadmap to achieve that vision and the specific goals.
Transformation to a sustainable future cannot be achieved only through government policies and requires an inclusive pathway leading to change, which involves action by government, business, civil society, and the public at large. The challenge, therefore, is to see that we create conditions which attract the involvement of all stakeholders. For the sake of humanity, we need ongoing global dialogue to build consensus and bring divergent views together. The session focuses on identifying and discussing the varying key challenges to achieving sustainable development.
The world is at the crossroads of challenges and opportunities in its pursuit of sustainable development as it aspires to ensure the welfare of the current generation and that of generations yet to come. Achieving sustainable development requires global actions to deliver on the legitimate aspiration towards further economic and social progress, while at the same time ensuring environmental protection and preventing degradation.
Impact of climate change, exacerbated by unsustainable consumption patterns, is clearly seen and experienced, especially by the vulnerable regions including the Pacific islands and India. Climate change is increasingly resulting in economic losses as well as loss in terms of cultural values, ecosystems and human lives to which a monetary value cannot be attached. As communities attempt to adapt to the impacts of climate change, what’s required is collaboration, knowledge sharing and an array of multi-pronged approaches and strategies. There is an urgent need to build strong institutions of governance encouraging sustainable consumption and production patterns, necessitating both business and government interventions to mainstream the solutions and ensuring that the world lives within the carrying capacity of our planet. The emergence of new actors, and the necessity of their involvement, requires a more inclusive governance system with a larger range of policies and instruments to propel action.
The vision for a sustainable future aims at ensuring that all human beings enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature. Well researched and enabling solutions towards this vision include building resilient infrastructure, promoting sustainable production and industrialisation, improved services in energy, transport, water and sanitation, and encouraging innovation to support economic development and human well-being. This session seeks to discuss such pioneering solutions, policies and actions being taken to address the barriers on the path to realization of sustainable development.