Degradation of the natural world is undermining efforts to reduce poverty, warn scientists, who say the only chance of achieving global prosperity is for all countries to combine poverty and environmental targets.

Prof David Griggs, director of the Monash Sustainability Institute in Australia, argues in an article in the journal Nature that it is no longer enough for countries to solely pursue the poverty alleviation targets enshrined in the millennium development goals (MDG) that were agreed in 2000 but run out in 2015.

The old goals should be combined with global environmental targets drawn from science and from existing international agreements to create new “sustainable development goals” (SDGs).

  • Goal one: Thriving lives and livelihoods.
    End poverty and improve wellbeing through access to education, employment and information, better health and housing. It should include targets on clean air that build on World Health Organisation guidelines for pollutants such as black carbon.
  • Goal two: Sustainable food security.
    The MDG hunger target should be extended and targets added to limit nitrogen and phosphorus use in agriculture; phosphorus flow to the oceans should not exceed 10m tonnes a year; and phosphorus runoff to lakes and rivers should halve by 2030.
  • Goal three: Sustainable water security.
    Achieve universal access to clean water and basic sanitation. This would contribute to MDG health targets, restrict global water runoff to less than 4,000 cubic kilometres a year and limit volumes withdrawn from river basins to no more than 50-80{f94e4705dd4b92c5eea9efac2f517841c0e94ef186bd3a34efec40b3a1787622} of mean annual flow.
  • Goal four: Universal clean energy.
    Improve affordable access to clean energy that minimises local pollution and health impacts and mitigates global warming. This contributes to the UN commitment to sustainable energy for all, and addresses MDG targets on education, gender equity and health.
  • Goal five: Healthy and productive ecosystems.
    Sustain biodiversity and ecosystem services through better management, valuation, measurement, conservation and restoration. Extinctions should not exceed 10 times the natural background rate. At least 70{f94e4705dd4b92c5eea9efac2f517841c0e94ef186bd3a34efec40b3a1787622} of species in any ecosystem and 70{f94e4705dd4b92c5eea9efac2f517841c0e94ef186bd3a34efec40b3a1787622} of forests should be retained.
  • Goal six: Governance for sustainable societies.
    Transform governance and institutions at all levels to address the other five sustainable development goals. This would build on MDG partnerships and incorporate environmental and social targets into global trade, investment and finance. Subsidies on fossil fuels and policies that support unsustainable agricultural and fisheries practices should be eliminated by 2020.


Source: The Guardian