Opinion pieces and features from our team, ESPA researchers and others working on science and practice relevant to ESPA…

Building on ESPA’s Five Years of Science - The SDGs and ESPA-2016.

05 October, 2015
By Paul van Gardingen, ESPA Director

An important milestone was marked at the United Nations General Assembly on September 25th, 2015 when the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) were adopted by world leaders.  As well as setting the global development agenda for the next 15 years, this event also provided an opportunity to reflect on our progress since the last equivalent event at the turn of the Millennium when the UN adopted the Millennium Declaration and subsequent Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In the 15 years since the UN’s Millennium Declaration there has been very significant progress, as documented by the progress in measured against the MDGs.  The adoption of the SDGs recognises this progress but also that much more remains to be done if we are to succeed in “Transforming Our World by 2013”, the theme of the SDGs.  You can read more about the SDGs from the UN’s website including commentary of the Sustainable Development Summit which includes a section on the...

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‘Sustainable development science’ for transforming our world – proposing a ten-year review of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

05 October, 2015
By Steve Bass is Senior Associate at IIED and Independent Chair of the ESPA Programme Executive Board

Sometimes it helps to look back before moving forward. Governments, businesses and communities want to know how they can truly ‘transform our world’ through implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  I have been looking back at the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, published 10 years ago, as an early guide to what to do.

There is no doubt that, 40 years after the notion was first introduced, last month’s agreement on a universal framework for sustainable development is awe-inspiring. But the challenge of implementing 17 goals and 169 targets across diverse societies is not to be underestimated.

How will people make better decisions than in the past? I believe the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), and the innovations it subsequently inspired, can provide useful insights for developing both a policy-friendly evidence base and a common ‘language’ for sustainable development (SD).

Definitions of SD invariably focus on how things could or should be, but are much...

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