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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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  • Briefing Note
    Estimating Employment Effects of the Circular Economy

    Estimating Employment Effects of the Circular Economy

    This note summarizes some of the definitions of the term "circular economy" and the baselines that have been used for projections on job impacts and growth. 

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  • Annual Report
    A Force for Action: IISD Annual Report 2017-2018

    A Force for Action: IISD Annual Report 2017-2018

    IISD's annual report for 2017-2018.

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  • Discussion Paper
    A Dialogue on a Just and Managed Transition to a Paris-Aligned Low-Carbon Future

    A Dialogue on a Just and Managed Transition to a Paris-Aligned Low-Carbon Future

    The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and Oil Change International (OCI) hosted a Chatham House Rule round table discussion on Canada's energy transition in May 2018. This discussion paper highlights key outcomes from this round table for the purposes of informing continuing conversation.

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  • Report
    Global Value Chain Policy Series: Environment

    Global Value Chain Policy Series: Environment

    This paper, part of the Global Value Chain Policy Series, examines questions that arise at the intersection of environmental sustainability and global value chains. 

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  • Blog
    Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation:  Why SDG 9 matters and how we can achieve it

    Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation: Why SDG 9 matters and how we can achieve it

    With half the world now living in cities, and billions of dollars spent each year on growth and infrastructure, we need to finance and implement sustainable infrastructure practices that reduce our environmental footprint, employ clean technologies and are economically viable.

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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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