3 Pillars of Sustainability & 17 Development Goals of Sustainability


Sustainability entails addressing our own demands without jeopardizing future generations' ability to meet their own,We also require social and economic resources in addition to natural resources.

Sustainability is more than just being environmentally conscious. Most conceptions of sustainability include considerations for social equality and economic growth. (Verma et al.2019).

Moreover, While the notion of sustainability is relatively new, the movement has origins in social justice, conservationism, internationalism, and other long-standing movements. Many of these notions had coalesced by the end of the twentieth century in the push for ‘sustainable development. (Buttel et al.2003).

Sustinabiliy 3 pillars

(Figure1), the three pillars of sustainability

According to (Figure1), the three pillars of sustainability are Environmental, Economic, Social. (Purvis et al.2019; Hansmann et al.2012). 

First pillar, environment means it is the ecological integrity is preserved, and all the earth's environmental systems are kept in balance while natural resources within them are utilized at a rate that allows them to regenerate themselves (Purvis et al.2019). 

Second pillar is economy , it means when the human communities across the globe are able to maintain their independence and have access to the resources that they require, to meet their needs (financial) (Hansmann et al.2012).

Finally, third pillar is social, it means the universal human rights and basic requirements are accessible to all individuals who have access to enough resources to maintain their families and communities safe and healthy. Just leaders guarantee that personal, labor, and cultural rights are maintained and that all individuals are safeguarded from discrimination in fair societies. (Purvis et al.2019; Hansmann et al.2012).

Sustainability motives are frequently complicated, personal, and varied. It is impossible to describe all of the reasons why so many individuals, organizations, and communities are striving toward this objective. However, for most people, sustainability boils down to the sort of future we leave for future generations. Many individuals and organizations share the value of sustainability, which they exhibit by their policies, daily activities, and behaviors. Individuals have had a significant part in shaping our present environmental and social conditions. People today, as well as future generations, must devise answers and adapt. (Ozdamar et al.2015; Shepherd et al.2011).

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 The 2030 Agenda adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership (UNGC,2015). They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go together with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests (UNGC,2015).

The 17 goals came with the adaptation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Where the 2030 Agenda is considered "the plan of action for people, planet and prosperity", the goals show the extent of the dedication of the United Nations and its urging for societies to move towards achieving the principle of sustainability (Boeren,2019; UNGC,2015).

According to the United Nations, the 17 goals are: 
2.1  No Poverty 

 This UN objective aims to abolish all forms of poverty by 2030, with a predicted worldwide poverty rate of 6.5 - 7%, or the equivalent of 560 million individual approximately (Lakner et al .2019).

SDG 1 includes, but is not limited to, reducing extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day), implementing protection systems, ensuring equal rights to economic resources and basic services, and reducing vulnerability to poverty due to climate change. Climate - induced extreme weather events, resource mobilization in developing countries, and establishment of pro-poor and gender-responsive policy frameworks by 2030. Thus, the COVID-19 crisis and controversy about this pandemic have slowed poverty reduction efforts (Lakner et al .2019)

2.2  Zero Hunger  

As of 2020, 2.37 billion people are hungry or unable to consume a healthy balanced diet, resulting in the zero-hunger objective. (WHO, 2021).

"Zero Hunger" aims to eliminate hunger, enhance nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. The worldwide epidemic has only exacerbated global famine, with up to 161 million extra people facing starvation as a result. Anaemia affects one-third of women of reproductive age owing to dietary inadequacies. SDG 2 objectives include, but are not limited to, ending hunger, ending all forms of malnutrition, doubling agricultural productivity and small-scale food producer income, bringing resilience to agricultural practices, and establishing sustainable food production systems, and preserving genetic food diversity. (WHO, 2021)

2.3  Good Health and Well-Being 

 With a focus on increasing life expectancy and reducing common child and maternal diseases and killers, this goal targets ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages. The global pandemic has only made health disparities more apparent, halting and even reducing life-expectancy progress (Bindra et al.2019). SDG 3 objectives include but are not limited to: reduce maternal mortality, end preventable newborn and child death, end multiple disease epidemics, reduce premature mortality, prevent, and treat substance abuse, halt traffic-related deaths and injuries, ensure universal health coverage and access, reduce pollution and contamination deaths. Furthermore, this aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for people of all ages by improving life expectancy and lowering common infant and maternal illnesses and killers. The worldwide epidemic has simply highlighted health inequities, stalling and even lowering life-expectancy improvement. Reduce maternal mortality, end preventable newborn and child death, end multiple disease epidemics, reduce premature mortality, prevent, and treat substance abuse, halt traffic-related deaths and injuries, ensure universal health coverage and access, and reduce pollution and contamination deaths are among the SDG 3 objectives (Bindra et al.2019).

 2.4  Quality Education  

 This goal ensures inclusive and equitable quality education and promotes lifelong learning for all. Sadly, COVID-19 reversed years of education gains, and many countries lack basic school infrastructure. (Leicht et al. 2018)

SDG 4 objectives include but are not limited to: ensure free and quality primary and secondary education, give children access to early childhood development, ensure equal access for men and women to afford higher education choices, increase skills in youth, ensure gender equality, and promote sustainable development in education (Leicht et al. 2018).

2.5  Gender Equality  

 SDG 5 targets to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The percentage of women who work in national parliaments, local governments, and in managerial positions is still significantly less than that of men. Not to mention 1 in 3 women are subject to violence at least once since the age of 15, and child marriage is still highly present (ESCAP, 2016). 

SDG 5 objectives include but are not limited to: end discrimination against women, eliminate all forms of violence against women, eliminate harmful practices, value unpaid care and domestic work, ensure equal opportunities for leadership, ensure access to feminine health care, and ensure equal rights (ESCAP, 2016) 

2.6  Clean Water and Sanitation  

 The availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation ensures safe water for drinking, sanitation, and hygiene, yet 2.3 billion people live in water-stressed countries (McNabb, 2019; Zvobgo et al.2020). 

Moreover, SDG 6 objectives include but are not limited to: provide equal universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene, reduce water pollution, increase water-use efficiency, integrate water-resource management, and protect ecosystems dependent on water (McNabb, 2019; Zvobgo et al.2020). 

2.7  Affordable and Clean Energy  

Almost 800 million people lack access to electricity and 1/3 of the population uses dangerous cooking systems. This puts into perspective why this goal aims to ensure affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy (WHO,2016).

SDG 7 objectives include but are not limited to: increase renewable energy use, improve energy use efficiency, enhance international cooperation regarding clean energy access, research, and technology, and to upgrade technology in developing countries for sustainable energy services (WHO,2016).

2.8  Decent Work and Economic Growth  

Especially after the global pandemic, joblessness and unemployment is extremely prevalent, making this goal of promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and productive employment and decent work ever more important (Bandyopadhyay,2020)

SDG 8 objectives include but are not limited to: sustain economic growth, increase economic productivity, improve resource efficiency, achieve full and productive employment, increase working youth population, end forced labor, protect labor rights, promote tourism, and grant access to financial institution access for all (Bandyopadhyay,2020).

2.9  Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure 

Resilient infrastructure, inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and innovation is the objective of this sustainable development goal. Enhancing rural road connectivity, increasing research and development investment, and manufacturing high tech products helps stabilize infrastructure (Kynčlová etal.2020). 

SDG 9 objectives include but are not limited to: reliable infrastructure for all, sustainable industrialization, increased access of small-scale industries and enterprises in developing countries, rendering industries sustainable, and improving technology in all industries (Kynčlová etal.2020). 

2.10  Reduced Inequalities.

 This sustainable development goal focuses on reducing inequalities within and among countries. Income inequality, the refugee crises, and inequality indexes all show that certain areas and countries are highly more beneficial to live in than others. Living standards between countries are very unbalanced (Hackl,2018).

SDG 10 objectives include but are not limited to: income growth for the bottom 40 percent of the population at a higher than national average rate, social, economic, and political inclusion, appropriate legislation policies to reduce inequality, wage and fiscal equality, better financial market and institution regulation, legitimate institutions that represent developing countries in global decisions, and safe migration (Hackl,2018).  

2.1  Sustainable Cities and Communities.

This goal promotes making cities and human settlements safer, resilient, and sustainable through use of national urban policies, more access to public spaces, convenient public transportation, and the reduction of slums (Klopp, 2017).  

SDG 11 objectives include but are not limited to: safe and affordable housing for all, safe and affordable transport for all, sustainable urbanization, and human settlement planning, protect cultures around the world, protecting the poor and vulnerable from death by natural disasters, monitoring air quality and waste management to reduce negative city impact, and to provide green public space (Klopp, 2017).  

2.12  Responsible Consumption and Production  

Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns, as a goal, aims to reduce climate change and negative environmental impacts (Guevara et al.2019)

SDG 12 objectives include but are not limited to: implementing a 10-year framework program for sustainable development and consumption, achieving sustainable management, having food waste, managing chemicals and waste in an environmentally responsible way, reduce waste, encourage company sustainable practices, sustainable public procurement practices, and providing access to relevant sustainable development and harmony with nature information (Guevara et al.2019).

2.13  Climate Action  

Climate action is a goal involving the fight against climate change and its impacts. Rising greenhouse gas emissions, an average global temperature increase, and increased spending due to climate change are all negative results of climate change (Louman et al.2019).

SDG 13 objectives include but are not limited to: being prepared for climate related disasters, integrating climate policies into national policies, and raising climate awareness (Louman et al.2019).

2.14  Life Below Water  

The Life Below Water goal focuses on conserving and sustainably using our oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. We, as a population, rely heavily on our oceans for food, tourism, recreational activities, and global trade (Singh et al.2018). In fact, 3 billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihood. However, our oceans are under severe threat. Over half of key marine biodiversity areas are unprotected, and dead zones, zones lacking oxygen to support marine life, are rising. It is thus imperative we protect our oceans better (Singh et al.2018).

SDG 14 objectives include but are not limited to: preventing marine pollution, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, minimizing ocean acidification through impact reduction, protecting the fishing market, conserving marine and coastal areas, and overfishing control (Singh et al.2018).  

2.15  Life on Land 

This goal overall promotes the health of land life. It includes protecting, restoring, and promoting land ecosystems, managing forests sustainably. Combatting desertification and halting and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss. With many species under threat and ever-increasing biodiversity loss, it is essential we take better care of land ecosystems (Munang et al.2011).

SDG 15 objectives include but are not limited to: ensuring freshwater ecosystem health, sustainable management of forests, ensuring mountain ecosystem health, preserving natural habitats, shared benefits of genetic resource use, ending poaching and protected species trafficking, and integrating biodiversity values into national planning (Munang et al.2011).

2.16  Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions  

This goal involves reducing conflict, insecurity, and weak institutions by means of promoting peace and inclusivity for sustainable development and justice for all (Hope Sr,2020).

SDG Goal 16 objectives include but are not limited to: reduce violence and death rates, end all forms of violence against children, promote law at national and international levels, reduce financial crime, reduce corruption, develop transparent institutions, developing country participation in global governance institutions, legal identity for all, and ensuring public access to information and freedom rights (Hope Sr,2020). 

2.17  Partnership for the Goals 

This last goal aims to help realize strong partnership and global cooperation for the SDGs. In addition, SDG 17 objective include but are not limited to: enhance developing country international support, enhancing international cooperation, promote environmentally sound technologies, rule-based and equitable multilateral trading system, increase developing country exports, enhance global economic stability, and coherent sustainable development policy (Kaltenborn et al.2020). 


 Bandyopadhyay, P.K., 2020. Sustainable development goal 8: Achieving decent work–An illusion. The Palgrave Handbook of Corporate Social Responsibility, pp.1-15.

Bindra, S.P., Ramadan, A.S., Astiata, W., Ali, B.M., Balha, A., AlMislati, A. and Mohamed, A., 2019. Accelerating Progress towards Global Goal 3 on Good Health & Well Being. International Journal of Health and Economic Development5(1), pp.21-30.

Boeren, E., 2019. Understanding Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on “quality education” from micro, meso and macro perspectives. International review of education65(2), pp.277-294.

Buttel, F.H., 2003. Environmental sociology and the explanation of environmental reform. Organization & Environment16(3), pp.306-344.

ESCAP, U., 2016. Sustainable Development Goal 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Guevara, S. and Julián, I.P., 2019. Sustainable consumption and production: A crucial goal for sustainable development—Reflections on the Spanish SDG implementation report. Journal of Sustainability Research1(2).

Hackl, A., 2018. Mobility equity in a globalized world: Reducing inequalities in the sustainable development agenda. World development112, pp.150-162.

Hansmann, R., Mieg, H.A. and Frischknecht, P., 2012. Principal sustainability components: empirical analysis of synergies between the three pillars of sustainability. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology19(5), pp.451-459.

Hope Sr, K.R., 2020. Peace, justice and inclusive institutions: overcoming challenges to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 16. Global Change, Peace & Security32(1), pp.57-77.

Initiative, G.R., 2015. United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). SDG Compass The Guide for Business Action on the SDGs. Available online: https://sdgcompass. org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/019104_SDG_Compass_Guide_2015. pdf (accessed on 13 May 2020).

Ioannidis, A., Chalvatzis, K.J., Leonidou, L.C. and Feng, Z., 2021. Applying the reduce, reuse, and recycle principle in the hospitality sector: Its antecedents and performance implications. Business Strategy and the Environment30(7), pp.3394-3410.

Kaltenborn, M., Krajewski, M. and Kuhn, H., 2020. Sustainable development goals and human rights (p. 239). Springer Nature.

Klopp, J.M. and Petretta, D.L., 2017. The urban sustainable development goal: Indicators, complexity and the politics of measuring cities. Cities63, pp.92-97.

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Lakner, C., Mahler, D.G., Negre, M. and Prydz, E.B., 2019. How much does reducing inequality matter for global poverty?. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, (8869).

3 Pillars of Sustainability &  17 Development Goals of Sustainability
Alaa Aboali March 19, 2023
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