Sibel Eker: ‘Immediate actions are necessary for sustainable futures’

Date of news: 13 September 2022

The world faces major challenges, including climate change, environmental degradation, poverty, and inequality. Progress in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is lagging behind and 2030 targets are unlikely to be met. New findings in sustainability research indicate the importance of adopting longer-term timeframes and pathways to ensure that the necessary pre-conditions are in place for sustainability beyond the current 2030 Agenda.

For the scientific analysis of the sustainable development goals, Sibel Eker, Assistant professor Methods, and her colleagues adapted  a global system dynamics model of human-natural system interactions to simulate how social, economic and environmental indicators of sustainability, such as educational attainment, population, and carbon emission develop over time. According to their analysis: “Yes, if we act now, we will still be able to achieve good results. We won’t be able to fully achieve all sustainable development goals in 2030, however, the actions we take now will help for significant progress in the long term, by 2050 and 2100. Therefore action is required now, even though we postpone the achievement of sustainable development goals. There is no time to wait.”

Everything is connected

“One reason we found, why sustainability development goals are not achieved by 2030, is that these goals interact with each other. For example: when we try to increase energy access in different parts of the world, we might be exacerbating poverty or food supply at the same time. These interactions have not been taken into account in a comprehensive way and in a way they project future developments. Many other studies also analyzed such interactions, but with little scope, so our study is the first to take more than half of the sustainable development goals and look at all of their interactions.”

Be realistic and take action now

“We need to act now and update the goals. Improve education all around the world, shift to sustainable diets and take strong climate action. It’s 2022, and we are almost in the midway between 2015 and 2030, so it would be more realistic to have long-term goals.
And we can be more ambitious. Our results show that even though we increase our ambitions, we still will be able to achieve them by taking action now. Because in the end, global problems like these affect everyone. Local problems such as heatwaves or poverty might not seem tangible to the ones who do not experience them directly, but they all come from the global problems we have.
I hope by highlighting global research like ours we can contribute to the tangibility of these issues in public perception.” ^AZ