The "S" in SDGs stands for sustainability. What is sustainability? When you hear the word "sustainability", you will probably see a diagram like the one below.
The first major intergovernme
ntal discussion of environmental issues at the United Nations was at the United Nations Conference on Human Development, commonly known as the Stockholm Conference. To mark the 20th anniversary of this event, the UN Conference on Environment and Development, known as the Earth Summit, was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. The concept was presented at that time. In other words, the concept is 30 years old. However, this concept is still widely used. What this concept shows is that we have to balance society, the environment and the economy. Is sustainability just the tiny part where the three overlap?
There is some truth in this diagram. But, outside of that small part of sustainability, do no we need to think about society and the environment?
Ten years after the Earth Summit, the Stockholm Resilience Centre launched this concept of sustainability. Like the Earth Summit, there are three circles: social, environmental and economic, but they all overlap. This diagram shows that society cannot be more than the environment and that the economy is just the engine that runs society.
There are not many people living in desert areas where the environment has been destroyed. Likewise, you cannot build a decent economy in a war zone. This is why there are no big cities in the Sahara desert and why foreign companies have come to Myanmar searching for economic activity in a country whose internal politics have been settled for some time. And as Myanmar's internal politics become more dubious, companies will be leaving the country.
Sustainability is about continuity. Sustainability is only possible if the society and environment around it are stable.