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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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  • 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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  • Report
    Cities and Smart Grids in Canada

    Cities and Smart Grids in Canada

    This report looks specifically at smart grids within the context of grid modernization and urban settings in Canada. 

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  • Speech
    IISD Speech: President and CEO Scott Vaughan at the World Circular Economy Forum 2017, Helsinki

    IISD Speech: President and CEO Scott Vaughan at the World Circular Economy Forum 2017, Helsinki

    IISD President and CEO Scott Vaughan speech from the World Circular Economy Forum 2017 on June 6, 2017 in Helsinki.

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  • Speech
    IISD Speech: IISD President and CEO Scott Vaughan at the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region, Geneva

    IISD Speech: IISD President and CEO Scott Vaughan at the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region, Geneva

    IISD President and CEO Scott Vaughan speaking at the Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the UNECE Region in Geneva on April 25, 2017.

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  • Commentary
    Jobs and the Low-Carbon Energy Transition: Perspectives from Cumberland County

    Jobs and the Low-Carbon Energy Transition: Perspectives from Cumberland County

    This commentary begins in Cumberland County, in Northwestern Nova Scotia, Canada, where new jobs are emerging in the renewable energy sector. It argues that the shifts underway in Cumberland County are representative of a larger transition, as job losses in the fossil fuel industry are replaced by growth in renewable energy. 

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  • Commentary
    IISD Perspectives on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

    IISD Perspectives on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

    As the Sustainable Development Goals were in the final hours of negotiation in 2015, and in the early days of implementation in 2016, IISD experts reflected on the implications for countries, the UN system, and our own programs of work. These articles, first published as a series of blog postings, are the outward expression of that thought process. 

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  • Report
    Comprehensive Wealth in Canada—Measuring what matters in the long run

    Comprehensive Wealth in Canada—Measuring what matters in the long run

    This report seeks to introduce the concept of comprehensive wealth to Canadians and outline why it should be considered an essential complement to the other measures such as gross domestic product.

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  • Blog
    The Art of Influence: How think tanks make a difference

    The Art of Influence: How think tanks make a difference

    "We like being thinkers, but we are thinkers with a purpose."  Mark Halle explores how think tanks make a difference.

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  • Blog
    Achieving the SDGs: Can we manage the pace?

    Achieving the SDGs: Can we manage the pace?

    The suite of global agreements adopted last year mostly focused on the coming 15-year period. So the question arises—can the intergovernmental community manage the pace necessary for success in the short time frame available? 

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