The Age of Sustainable Development
Release date: March 2015
The Age of Sustainable Development explains the central concept for our age, which is both a way of understanding the world and a method for solving global problems – sustainable development. Sustainable development tries to make sense of the interactions of three complex systems: the world economy, the global society, and the Earth’s physical environment. It recommends a holistic framework, in which society aims for environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive development, underpinned by good governance. It is a way to understand the world, yet is also a normative or ethical view of the world: a way to define the objectives of a well-functioning society, one that delivers wellbeing for its citizens today and in future generations. This book describes key challenges and solutions pathways for every part of the world to be involved in problem solving, brainstorming, and determining new and creative ways to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth.
The Age of Sustainable Development explains why Sustainable Development will become the central public policy framework for our age. The 193 member states of the UN will soon adopt Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help guide the world in the coming generation. This book offers the first comprehensive approach for this new era and for the new SDGs. The book examines the complex interactions of the economy, society, and the physical environment, and shows how a holistic strategy can help societies to achieve the combination of economic prosperity, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability. Students around the world and interested citizens will be the leaders of this new era of problem solving, and The Age of Sustainable Development will provide them with new tools for success.
A leading economist offers a brilliant analysis of the worldwide need to balance economic development and environmental sustainability.
Sustainable development is “the greatest, most complicated challenge humanity has ever faced,” writes Sachs (Sustainable Development, Health Policy and Management/Columbia Univ.; To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace, 2013, etc.). In an important, comprehensive and remarkably accessible book—a standout in a sea of jargon-laden titles that fail to explain and vivify this enormously complex topic—the author writes lucidly about a staggering array of intertwined challenges, including poverty, overpopulation, species extinction, overextraction from oceans, urbanization, social mobility and climate change. Sachs stresses that sustainable development is “inherently an exercise in problem solving,” and he calls for a holistic approach and new ideas to produce “prosperous, inclusive, sustainable, and well-governed societies.” He explains the history of world economic development, the factors that help make some nations more impoverished than others (such as the landlocked nature of much of Africa), the science of climate change, how technical advances have fostered the depletion of ocean fisheries, the “unfinished business” of social mobility, and the pressing need for sustainable technologies and higher farm yields (especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia). In each instance, the author offers telling details and anecdotes accompanied by useful charts, maps and photographs that drive home his points. Two photos of Shenzhen, China, taken three decades apart, convey the astonishing growth of that major southern city. Examining each aspect of his topic in detail within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals formulated at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, Sachs argues that solutions are feasible and affordable, despite strong opposition by vested interests and the inaction of governments.
Required reading for policymakers and students, and general readers will finish the book realizing they actually understand what sustainable development is all about.