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Unit 6
Sustainable Development

Learning Outcomes

  • Learns about reconciling economic growth, environmental balance and social progress, ensuring that all people have the same opportunities and can lead a better life without compromising the planet
  • Learns about building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and promoting innovation
  • Learns about ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for every-one of all ages
  • Learns about taking urgent action to combat climate change and its effects
  • Ensure inclusive and fair education of good quality and promoting life long learning for everyone


The recent estimates show that physical inactivity, linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3% of global deaths, according to the World Health Organization. We should have access to green spaces for improved health and well-being, and even in the treatment of mental illness.

Some of prominent goals in the Sustainable Development Goals include No Poverty, Zero hunger (No hunger), Good health and well-being, Quality education, Gender equality, Clean water and sanitation, Decent work and economic growth, Reduced inequality etc. It would be a heaven to live on earth if these and other goals are achieved. Let us strive for the same.

The main features of SD are respect and care for all kinds of life forms; improving the quality of the human life; minimizing the depletion of natural resources; and enabling the communities to care for their own environment. Let us learn as to practice them.

Key words

Sustainable development, Development goals, Principles, Concepts, Economic growth.


What are the concepts of sustainable development? What are the issues covered under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

3.6.1 Sustainable Development

The concept of sustainable development was described by the 1987 Bruntland Commission Report as ―development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is a way for people to use resources without the resources running out. There are four dimensions to sustainable development – society, environment, culture and economy – which are intertwined, not separate. Sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life. For example, a prosperous society relies on a healthy environment to provide food and resources, safe drinking water and clean air for its citizens. Sustainability is most often defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. It has three main pillars:

Economic, environmental, and social- these three pillars are informally referred to as people, planet and profits. Sustainable development encourages us to conserve and enhance our resource base, by gradually changing the ways in which we develop and use technologies. These include social progress and equality, environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and stable economic growth.

The main features of sustainable development are:

  1. It respects and cares for all kinds of life forms.
  2. It improves the quality of the human life.
  3. It minimises the depletion of natural resources.
  4. It enables the communities to care for their own environment.

3.6.2 Principles of sustainable development

Sustainable development (SD) is one of the leading issues in the contemporary development discourse. It is an approach to development that takes the environmental dimension and which owes its origin to various debates and environmental movements in 1970s and 1980s regarding the connection between environment and economic development. The approach seeks to reconcile human needs and the capacity of the environment to cope with the consequences of the economic system so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations. It holds that wealth of nations does not rest solely on its economic wealth but also on the smooth development and protection of environmental resources.

The major principle of the concept is that the natural resources should be used in a manner which does not eliminate or degrade them, or otherwise diminish their usefulness for future generations. However, the concept has been criticized as being vague and unattainable which is introduced by developed countries to protect capitalism and impede development of other countries. Others believed that the implementation of sustainable development would mean a reversion to pre-modern life styles.


3.6.3 Sustainable Development

The principles of sustainable development are as follows:

  1. Conservation of ecosystem.
  2. Development of sustainable society.
  3. Conservation of biodiversity.
  4. Control of population growth.
  5. Development of human resources.
  6. Promotion of public participation.
3.6.4 Examples of Sustainable Development
1. Wind Energy:
Since the first windmill was built in Persia be-tween 500 and 900 AD, people have used the power of the wind. In many areas in the 21st century, energy produced by wind power is now either less expensive than coal-generated electricity or on par with it. Due to their low cost and minimal land footprint, wind turbines are an excellent option for power generation. Wind energy production can coexist with other land uses like farming, conservation, and recreation. Wind energy can considerably complement or replace entire grid systems as the cost of wind power technologies continues to fall and energy storage and distribution infrastructure improves.
2. Solar Energy:
It is evident that there is a renewable energy revolution taking place in the world, and it is being driven by the sun. This revolution ranges from small rooftop solar panels to enormous solar farms that may achieve the same electricity production as a conventional power plant. The 94% of the pollution that a coal plant produces can be cut down by a solar farm. Additionally, it gets rid of harmful pollutants like mercury and sulphur nitrous oxides, which are important causes of the air pollution that causes millions of early deaths each year. In many places of the world, solar technology has become more affordable and is now cost-competitive with or less expensive than traditional power generation.
3. Crop Rotation:
Contrarily, crop rotation is defined as “the successive planting of various crops on the same ground to increase soil fertility and assist in controlling insects and illnesses.” This method of farming is not new; rather, it is an older one that maximises the long-term growth prospects of the land while using no chemicals.
4. Water efficient fixtures:
We are starting to realise that water is not as unlimited as we originally thought because many nations throughout the world are ex-periencing water crisis. Showering, hand washing, and sewage transportation require necessary water usage that is unavoidable in the majority of buildings around the world. However, by using water-saving equipment and fittings, the amount of water needed for these fundamental services can be significant-ly decreased by more than 50%. Water-saving accessories include dual flush toilets, toilet stops, and low-flow faucets and showerheads. These devices can be readily and economically retrofitted into already-existing structures or requested for newer building projects.
5. Green Spaces:
Urban areas must have green spaces, such as parks, marshland, lakes, forests, or other eco-systems, in order to be developed sustainably. While trees create oxygen and block out air pollution, these spaces are crucial for cooling cities.
In addition to providing safer locations for physical activity and pleasure, well-designed green spaces are essential for providing safer routes for people travelling by foot or bicycle. Recent estimates reveal that lack of physical activity, linked to poor pedestrian space and lack of access to recreational places, contrib-utes to 3.3% of global mortality, according to the World Health Organization. Exposure to green areas can therefore enhance health and wellbeing and even help alleviate mental illness.
These are only a handful of the many different types of sustainable development that could continue to promote good global change. The world is at a crossroads, and we still have time to change the course of global development toward one that is more ecological. As a result, it is necessary to alter the laws and policies that control development. In light of this, sustainable development will become not just the best and most practical option, but also the obvious one.
3.6.5 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sometimes referred to as the Global Goals, were enacted by the United Nations in 2015 as a global call to action to eradicate poverty, safeguard the environment, and guarantee that by the year 2030, peace and prosperity will be experienced by everyone. In order to cre-ate a “blueprint to build a sustainable future for all,” the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, are made of 17 interconnected international objec-tives. The UN General Assembly established the SDGs in 2015, with the goal of achiev-ing them by the year 2030. The SDGs were created as part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals, which were completed in 2015.
The 17 SDGs include: (a) No Poverty, (b) Zero Hunger, (c) Good Health and Well-being, (d) Quality Education, (e) Gender Equality, (f) Clean Water and Sanitation, (g) Affordable and Clean Energy, (h) Decent Work and Economic Growth, (i) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, (j) Reducing Inequality, (k) Sustainable Cities and Communities, (l) Responsible Consumption and Production, (m) Climate Action, (n) Life Below Water, (o). Life On Land, (p) Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, (q) Partnerships for the Goals.
Fig: 3.6.2 Sustainable Development Goals (Source:
Goal 1: No Poverty
“End poverty in all its forms everywhere,” states SDG. By 2030, if SDG 1 is achieved, severe poverty would be eradicated world-wide. The objective comprises seven targets and 13 indicators to track its progress. The five ‘outcome targets’ are: eliminating extreme poverty; cutting down the rate of poverty overall; putting social protection systems in place; guaranteeing equal access to property, essential services, technology, and financial resources; and enhancing resilience to natural, man-made, and interpersonal disasters. Mobilizing resources to eliminate poverty and creating frameworks for policy on eradicating poverty at all levels are the two aims related to “means of achieving” SDG 1.
Goal 2: Zero hunger (No hunger)
Ending hunger, achieving food security, enhancing nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture are the goals of SDG 2. Eight goals and fourteen indicators are included in SDG 2 to track progress. The five “outcome tar-gets” are: 1) eradicating hunger and enhancing access to food; 2) eradicating all forms of malnutrition; 3) crop production; 4) resilient agricultural practises and sustainable food production systems; and genetic variation of seeds, cultivated plants, and farm animals; 5) investments in research and technology. Addressing trade barriers, market distortions in global agricultural markets, and food commodity markets and their substitutes are among the three “ways of achieving” aims.
Goal 3: Good health and well-being
“Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” is the goal of SDG 3. SDG 3 comprises 28 indicators and 13 targets for tracking progress. “Outcome targets” are the first nine targets. They are:
  1. reducing maternal mortality and eliminating all preventable infant deaths,
  2. combating communicable diseases,
  3. ensuring a decline in non-communicable dis-ease mortality,
  4. promoting mental health,
  5. preventing and treating substance abuse,
  6. reducing traffic fatalities and injuries,
  7. ensuring universal access to family planning services,
  8. achieving universal health cover-age,
  9. reducing illnesses and deaths from toxic substances and pollution.

The four “means to achieve” SDG 3 aims are:

  1. to implement the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,
  2. promote research, development, and cheaper access to vaccinations and medications,
  3. boost health financing and support for the medical workforce in developing nations, and
  4. upgrade early warning systems for global health threats…

Goal 4: Quality education
The purpose of SDG 4 is to “provide inclusive and equitable quality education and encourage opportunities for lifelong learning for everyone.” Ten targets in SDG 4 are monitored by 11 indicators. The seven “outcome-oriented targets” are: universal literacy and numeracy; free primary and secondary education; equal access to high-quality early childhood education; affordable technical, vocational, and higher education; increased numbers of people with skills necessary for financial success; elimination of all forms of discrimination in education; and education for sustain-able development and global citizenship. The three “ways of accomplishing targets” are to construct and improve inclusive and secure schools, raise the number of higher education scholarships available to developing nations, and boost the availability of competent instructors in such nations.

Goal 5: Gender equality
SDG 5 states that all women and girls should be empowered. The “Leave No One Behind” pledge, which strives to give women and girls equal rights and opportunity to live free of dis-crimination, including job discrimination and any violence, commits nations to accelerating development for those who are most in need. The goal of this is to empower all women and girls and achieve gender equality.

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation
SDG 6 states that “Water and sanitation for all will be available, and shall be managed sustainably.” Eleven indicators are used to assess the eight targets. The six “outcome-oriented targets” are: Safe and reliable drinking water; stopping open defecation and provide access to sanitation and hygiene; improving water quality, wastewater treatment, and safe reuse; increasing water-use efficiency and ensuring freshwater supplies; implementing IWRM; and protecting and restoring ecosystems that are related to water. The two “ways of achieving” objectives are to boost local participation in water and sewage management and increase water and sanitation assistance to developing nations.

Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy
SDG 7 states that “Ensure that all people have access to sufficient, cheap, modern, and sustainable energy.” By 2030, the goal’s five targets must be met. Six indicators are used to evaluate success in achieving the goals. Out of the five objectives, three are “outcome targets”: Increasing access to modern energy, an increase in the worldwide share of renewable energy, and a multiplication of energy efficiency advancements. The final two goals are “means of attaining goals” and include expanding and improving energy services for poor nations as well as promoting access to research, technology, and investments in clean energy. These goals include expanding the use of renewable energy while ensuring that everyone has access to inexpensive and dependable electricity. This would entail increasing energy efficiency and international cooperation to promote greater open access to clean energy technology and increased investment in clean energy infrastructure.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth
SDG 8 states that we must “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all.” By 2030, SDG 8 must complete a total of twelve tasks. A few goals are set for 2030, while others are for 2020. The first ten are “outcome targets”, which are the promotion of policies that support job creation and expanding businesses; the improvement of resource utilization in production and supply; full employment and decent work with wage equality; the elimination of modern day slavery, smuggling, and child labour; the protection of labour rights and the promotion of safe working environments; and the promotion of beneficial and sustainable tourism. Morever, there exists two targets for “means of achieving”: boost trade support through aid; create a worldwide youth employment plan.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infra-structure
SDG 9 states that we must encourage innovation, advance inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and build resilient infrastructure. SDG 9 includes eight targets, and twelve indicators to track progress. The first five targets are “outcome objectives”: Increase financial services and markets access; create sustainable, inclusive, and resilient infrastructures; modernise all sectors of the economy and infrastructure; expand scientific research; and advance industrial technology. The latter three targets are “means of accomplishing” objectives: Supporting domestic technological development, industry diversification, and ensuring that everyone has access to information and communications technologies, can help emerging nations build sustainable infrastructure

Goal 10: Reduced inequality
SDG 10 proposes to reduce income disparity both inside and across countries . Ten targets under the Goal must be completed by 2030. Indicators will track how well we are doing in relation to our goals. “Outcome targets” are the first seven objectives: They are to r educe income disparities; encourage universal social, economic, and political inclusion; guarantee equal treatment and eliminate discrimination; adopt social and fiscal policies that promote equality; improve global financial market and institution regulation; increase representation of developing nations in financial institutions; and implement responsible and well-managed immigration rules. The last three goals are “means of achievement” goals: stimulate development aid and investment in least developed countries; lower transaction costs for migrant remittances; and special and differential consideration for developing countries.

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities
The main objective of SDG 11 is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, secure, resiliant, and sustainable is . SDG 11 has 10 goals that must be met, and 15 indicators are used to track progress. The seven “outcome targets” are: providing access to safe and inclusive green spaces, affordable and sustain-able transportation options, inclusive and sustainable urbanisation, protecting the world’s natural and cultural heritage, reducing the negative effects of natural disasters, and reducing the environmental effects of cities. The three “means of accomplishing” the aims are: implementing policies for inclusiveness, resource efficiency, and catastrophe risk reduction; and assisting the least developed nations in developing structures that are sustainable and resilient.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production
SDG 12 states to “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.” The goal’s 11 targets include implementing the 10-Year Framework of Programs on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns, achieving sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources, reducing by half the amount of food wasted per person globally at the retail and consumer levels, and reducing food wastage along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses; reducing waste generation through waste prevention, reduction, recycling, and reuse; encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practises; promoting sustainable public procurement practises; and ensuring that everyone has access to the necessary information and awareness for sustainable development. The three “means of achieving” goals are to assist developing nations in enhancing their technological and scientific capabilities, create and use tools to track the effects of sustainable development, and eliminate market distortions like fossil fuel subsidies that promote wasteful consumption.

Goal 13: Climate action
SDG 13 urges to “take urgent action to com-bat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy.” The goals address a variety of climate change-related topics. There are a total of five targets. “Output targets” are the first three objectives: Build knowledge and capacity to deal with climate change; increase resilience and adaptability to climate-related disasters; and incorporate climate change initiatives into policies and plans. The latter two objectives are “means of accomplishing” objectives: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change must be put into action, and procedures to improve planning and management capacity must be encouraged. The main worldwide, intergovernmental platform for discussing the world’s response to climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Goal 14: Life below water
SDG 14 demands that “oceans, seas, and marine resources will be conserved and sustainably used for sustainable development.” “Outcome targets” are the first seven objectives: Increase the economic benefits from the sustainable use of marine resources while reducing marine pollution, protecting and re-storing ecosystems, reducing ocean acidification, practising sustainable fishing, conserving coastal and marine areas, and eliminating incentives that encourage overfishing. The following three goals are “means of achieving” goals: increasing scientific understanding, research, and technology for the health of the oceans; assisting small-scale fishermen; and implementing and upholding international maritime law.
The world’s population relies on the oceans and fisheries to meet its economic, social, and environmental demands. The planet’s life comes from the oceans, which also control the temperature on a worldwide scale. They include approximately a million recognised species, making them the biggest ecosystem in the world. The 97% of the water on the globe is found in the oceans, which also cover more than two thirds of its surface. They are necessary to making the world habitable. Ocean temperatures and currents control climate, precipitation, and drinking water. The livelihood of more than 3 billion people depends on marine life. However, since the industrial revolution, acidification has increased by 26%. To advance the sustainable use of oceans, effective mitigation measures for the negative effects of increased ocean acidification are required.

Goal 15: Life on land
SDG 15 is intended for protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of ecological systems, managing forests sustainably, preventing desertification, and halting biodiversity loss. The nine “outcome targets” are as follows: Protect access to genetic resources and equitable benefit sharing, conserve and restore terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, stop deforestation and restore degraded forests, stop desertification and restore degraded land, guarantee the preservation of mountain ecosystems, prevent invasive alien species from invading terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and integrate ecosystem and biodiversity management. The three ways of attaining aims are to increase financial resources to protect and sustainably use ecosystems and bio-diversity; finance and incentivise sustainable forest management; and combat global wild-life hunting and trafficking.
Ocean and Earth are essential to human existence. This specific objective strives to ensure sustainable livelihoods that can be enjoyed for many generations. About 80% of human food is made up of plants, hence agriculture is a huge economic resource. Forests encompass 30% of the Earth’s surface by providing habitat for millions of species, significant sources of clean air and water, and become essential for preventing climate change.

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions
SDG 16 states that “peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, access to justice for all, and the development of effective, responsible, and inclusive institutions at all levels” are to be promoted. Ten “outcome targets” make up the goal, and they are: Promote the rule of law and equal access to jus-tice; combat organised crime and illicit financial and weapons flows; significantly reduce corruption and bribery; develop effective, accountable, and transparent institutions; ensure responsive, inclusive, and representative decision-making; strengthen involvement in international governance; provide universal legal identity; ensure public safety; reduce crime; protect children from abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and violence. Additionally, there are two “means of achieving targets”: promote and uphold non-discriminatory laws and policies; and strengthen state institutions to deter violence and fight crime and terrorism.

Goal 17: Partnership for the goals
Strengthening the methods of implementation and reviving the global collaboration for sustainable development are the goals of SDG 17. There are 24 indicators and 19 outcome targets for this goal. Each of the 16 earlier goals is thought to require greater international collaboration. Goal 17 is included to ensure that nations and organisations work together rather than against one another. The achievement of the SDGs as a whole is thought to depend on the creation of multi-stakeholder collaborations to share knowledge, skills, technology, and financial support. Enhancing North-South and South-South collaboration is one of the objectives, and public-private partnerships with civil societies are especially addressed.

Implementation of SDGs
The SDGs began to be implemented globally in 2016. The SDGs can also be “localised” in this way. Individuals, institutions, governments, and organisations of various types work independently toward one or more goals at once. Each government must create its own budget, plan of action, and national legislation to implement the goals. However, they must also be willing to consider and actively seek partners at the same time. The importance of global coordination makes alliances valuable. The SDGs state that collaborations with wealthier nations are necessary for developing countries with limited access to financial resources.


  • Sustainable development is defined as an approach to developing or growing by using resources in a way that allows for them to renew or continue to exist for others. Using recycled materials or renewable resources when building is an example of sustainable development.
  • Sustainable development is important as it saves national budget, fulfils the need of people, conserves natural resources, helps in the coordination between the natural resources and people and conserves natural resources for future generations.
  • Principles of sustainable development: Firstly, the need for socio-economic development and secondly, need of limitation imposed on the environment’s capability to cope with the present and future requirements.
  • Six core principles of sustainability
  • Respect and care for all forms of life.
  • Improve the quality of human life.
  • Conserve the earth‘s vitality and diversity..
  • Minimize the depletion of natural resources.
  • Change personal attitudes and practices toward the environment.
  • Enable communities to care for their own environment.
  • Sustainable Development Goals
    The 17 SDGs are: (1) No Poverty (2) Zero Hunger (3) Good Health and Well-being 4) Quality Education (5) Gender Equality (6) Clean Water and Sanitation (7) Affordable and Clean Energy (8) Decent Work and Economic Growth (9) Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (10) Reduced Inequality (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.

Objective type questions

  1. According to Census 2011, what was the population growth rate of India from 2001 to 2011?
  2. What is the reason for poor standard of living and malnutrition in India?
  3. What is the need to control population growth in India?
  4. Which state in India has the largest population as per 2011 Census?
  5. A phenomenon that occurs when a species’ population becomes larger than the carrying capacity of its environment is known as…..
  6. What is responsible for fluctuation in population density?
  7. Which state in India has the lowest population growth rate?

Answer to Objective type questions

  1. 17.72%
  2. Over population
  3. To improve the standard of living among existing people.
  4. Uttar Pradesh
  5. Overpopulation
  6. Natality
  7. Kerala

Self Assessment Questions

  1. The concept of sustainable development was described by the ………………… .
  2. Define Sustainable Development.
  3. Which are the four dimensions of Sustainable Development?
  4. What are the main features of Sustainable Development?
  5. What are the principles of Sustainable Development?
  6. Write an essay on the examples of Sustainable Development.
  7. What are green spaces?
  8. What are Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)? How many SDGs are there?
  9. Write an essay of Sustainable Development Goals.

Suggested Reading

  1. Read sample narrative essays to understand the structure and features of sustainable development


  1. “Global Health Observatory,” World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.
  2. Climate Change 2007 – Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC.
  3. “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,”United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development.
  4. “Sustainable Development Solutions Network. An Action Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Report for the UN Secretary-General. Paris, France and New York, USA: SDSN. 2013.