The Age of Sustainable Development – Introduction


“Leave no one behind.”
You may be thinking about some war movie, but in this case that has nothing to do with what I am referring to. It is actually the first of the five key transformations that was recommended in a UN report on the development agenda beyond 2015[1]. The other four are (ii) put sustainable development at the core, (iii) Transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth, (iv) Build peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all and (v) Forge a new global partnership.

Recently, my friend Rob informed me about an online course called ‘The Age of Sustainable Development’ by Jeffrey Sachs. It sparked again the excitement that I originally got after I read his book Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. So, here I start again my study into Sustainable Development and I would like to ‘leave no one behind’. Hence, I will write a set of blogs summarizing course material with a dose of personal perspective. For all of you who cannot find the time or interest to fully commit to the complete course, this week starting with an introduction.

Introduction to Sustainable Development.
We are living in the Anthropocene; the age where human activity has a significant impact on the earth’s ecosystems. To prove that we influence our planet’s natural behaviour was a long and complicated process that was recently concluded[2]. Now, we can focus our attention in the science of sustainable development we try to understand how economic, social, environmental, political and cultural aspects of our world fit together. That is the first part of the science of Sustainable Development. The second part is to use that knowledge to set sensible goals to create a world of economic growth (prosperity) for everybody (socially inclusive) in a way that is fair and transparent (well-governed) and in balance with the planet’s resources (environmentally sustainable).

So I ask you to join a theoretical physicist with a passion for all of the world’s diversity and look ahead together at the exciting age we are entering!

Jiddu Alexander

[1]A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development, 2013, United Nations
[2]Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, 2013, IPCC

Tools used in week 1 of The Age of Sustainable Development.

World Bank Development Indicators
Life expectancy  via  Gapminder

Twitter: #susdev and @JeffDSachs

Jiddu Alexander’s The Age of Sustainable Development Series
Brief History of Economic Development
Why give aid? Or not (Uganda gay laws example)

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