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Sustainable Development

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Sustainable development has been defined in many ways, but the most frequently quoted definition is from Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Sustainability is the foundation for today’s leading global framework for international cooperation – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Each of the 17 SDGs has specific targets to be achieved by 2030. The goals and targets are universal, meaning they apply to all countries around the world, not just poor countries. Reaching the goals requires action on all fronts – governments, businesses, civil society and people everywhere all have a role to play.

Discover how IISD's work relates to the Sustainable Development Goals using our interactive tool. See how Canadian cities are measuring up in our indicator portal. Or explore our SDG Knowledge Hub, an online resource center for the latest news, original commentary from our experts, guest articles from key actors in SDG implementation, and a calendar of upcoming events related to the 2030 Agenda.

  • Blog
    Overseeing Agenda 2030—How to Avoid a Repeat of the Commission on Sustainable Development

    Overseeing Agenda 2030—How to Avoid a Repeat of the Commission on Sustainable Development

    The High-Level Political Forum is responsible for tracking and facilitating the implementation of Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goals. Two things must happen if it is to be successful. 

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  • Blog
    How the Energy Charter Treaty Could Have Costly Consequences for Governments and Climate Action

    How the Energy Charter Treaty Could Have Costly Consequences for Governments and Climate Action

    Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder explores the current status of the Energy Charter Treaty, and why now, more than ever, it deserves far more public attention and scrutiny.

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  • Speech
    IISD Speech: President and CEO Scott Vaughan at Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Fun, Profit and Saving the Earth event

    IISD Speech: President and CEO Scott Vaughan at Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Fun, Profit and Saving the Earth event

    IISD President and CEO Scott Vaughan spoke to nearly 400 business leaders about how transitioning to a green economy can help Winnipeg weather climate change.

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  • Blog
    Healthy Lives and Well-being for Everyone: Why SDG 3 matters and how we can achieve it

    Healthy Lives and Well-being for Everyone: Why SDG 3 matters and how we can achieve it

    Creating a sustainable world—and reaching economic, environmental and social goals—depends on having a thriving and healthy human population. We explore how Sustainable Development Goal 3 plans to achieve that.

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  • Book
    Big Data for Resilience Storybook

    Big Data for Resilience Storybook

    The Big Data for Resilience Storybook explores the links between Big Data and resilience building through the experiences of seven international organizations. 

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  • Report
    Progressing national  SDGs implementation: An independent assessment of the voluntary national review reports submitted to  the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2017

    Progressing national SDGs implementation: An independent assessment of the voluntary national review reports submitted to the United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in 2017

    The report identifies ten key pillars that we believe are essential to the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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  • Commentary
    Indigenous Protected Areas, a Way to Meet Human and Environmental Challenges?

    Indigenous Protected Areas, a Way to Meet Human and Environmental Challenges?

    This commentary examines Indigenous Protected Areas (IPAs) and their growing importance in recognizing the rights of indigenous societies and safeguarding biological diversity.

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  • Book
    From Bali to Marrakech: A decade of international climate negotiations

    From Bali to Marrakech: A decade of international climate negotiations

    This book builds on IISD's Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) coverage of a decade of climate change negotiations from the meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) in Bali, Indonesia in 2017 to Marrakech, Morocco in 2016.

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  • Discussion Paper
    Clean Fuel Standard: Summary of stakeholder written comments on the Discussion Paper

    Clean Fuel Standard: Summary of stakeholder written comments on the Discussion Paper

    The Government of Canada published the Clean Fuel Standard: Discussion Paper to seek stakeholder feedback and received comments from across economic sectors, environmental organizations, academia and the public.  

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  • Report
    Towards Sustainable Development in Manitoba: Recommendations for Manitoba's Watershed-Based Policy Framework

    Towards Sustainable Development in Manitoba: Recommendations for Manitoba's Watershed-Based Policy Framework

    IISD's recommendations to strengthen proposed programs under Manitoba's Watershed-Based Policy Framework aim for net gains through geographic targeting, an evaluation framework to assess cumulative impacts and value for money, as well as coordination of local level-actions through aligned metrics with other programs related to land and water management.

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