United Nations Environment Programme environment for development

The Environment at the Heart of the Agenda

The 2030 Agenda is a fundamental shift from today’s growth-based economic model to a new way that targets sustainable and equitable economies and societies worldwide, and greater public participation in decision-making, in line with Principle 10 of the 1992 Rio Declaration. It is an agenda that aims to replace unsustainable consumption and production patterns with sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods that benefit all. Central to the agenda is the understanding that a healthy, well-functioning environment is crucial for humankind to prosper.

Ending poverty (Goal 1) can be achieved by integrating economic development, social protection and environmental health. Environmental poverty – resulting from lack of access to natural assets, inadequate management of resources and exposure to ecosystem degradation and pollution – leads to greater vulnerability and a loss of resilience in communities. An increasing world population will make it even more challenging to provide basic services to the poor.

UNEP’s International Resource Panel estimates that consumption of natural resources will triple by 2050. Sustainable development will need to maintain, enhance and, where necessary, rebuild natural capital as a critical economic asset and as a source of public benefits.

Human rights and the environment are inextricably linked through the right of every citizen to a clean, healthy and productive environment. Sustainable development implies universally meeting basic needs and extending everyone the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations to live in dignity. In the 2030 Agenda, meeting those basic needs is linked to access to natural resources. For example, in Goal 2, access to food is linked to access to land, which in turn is linked to poverty reduction (Goal 1) and gender equality (Goal 5). Goal 6 addresses the natural resource ‘water’ in terms of the environment (water quality, restoration of ecosystems), social (access to safe drinking water) and economic aspects (water-use efficiency across all sectors). This emphasis on the links between the three dimensions exists in all 17 goals, making the agenda truly integrated.


High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF)

11-20 July, UN Headquarters, New York - #17days17goals