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What is Sustainable Development?

Sustainable development can be defined in different ways. This page presents one of the most common definitions, as well as an introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG:s) that were implemented by the UN in 2015.

The most commonly used definition of Sustainable Development is found in the Brundtland Commission Report  from 1987: Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It contains within it two key concepts: the concept of ‘needs,’ in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment’s ability to meet present and future needs.

In 2015, the Agenda 2030  with the global goals for sustainable development was signed by all UN countries. The goals (SDGs) can serve as a global definition of what is required to achieve in order to reach a sustainable development. The goals are universal, undividable and mutually dependent. Each of the 17 goals has several targets which in turn have indicators that are followed up by the nations. You can learn about the goals, targets and indicators at several places, e.g. at the UN website United Nations Sustainable Development – 17 Goals to Transform Our World , or in Swedish at Globala målen – För hållbar utveckling .

The definitions above serve as the starting point for KTH’s work to promote sustainable development. As a technical university, KTH has a responsibility for the development of technologies that contribute to sustainable development, and for the mitigation of present and historical negative effects by technology. Here you can find a document of what KTH means with promoting sustainable development .