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Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Definition and Principles


This series of articles provides a detailed explanation of sustainable global economic development, issues that arise, ways of addressing these complex problems, and benefits for nature, humanity, and the world economy. The series of articles aims to emphasize the essence of making global finance and the economy more sustainable and reveal the steps to achieve these goals. The importance of the series is that the aspects of the topic described in the articles concern everyone, and each reader can understand what factors, decisions, technologies, and ideas affect sustainable global economic development.

The Sustainable Global Economic Development 101 series consists of six articles:

  1. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Definition and Principles

  2. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Challenges and Issues

  3. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: The Indicators of Sustainable Economy Development

  4. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Sustainable Global Finance Methods

  5. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: The Influence of Science and Technology

  6. Sustainable Global Economic Development 101: Enhancement for Sustainable Globalism

The concept of sustainability is one of the problems that draw global attention for more than 40 consecutive years. Many developing countries have not even come close to sustainable development despite the international community's efforts Thus, the topic is extremely important and relevant. The article offers a detailed review of the concept and its principles, elements, and issues.

The industrial progress in the last years has led to adverse climate changes in different parts of the world and also social insecurity. A negative impact on nature is threatening the planet and the survival of the generations to come. These reasons caused changes in the management of natural resources and more responsible organization of industrial production, so that its consequences do not harm the environment (Klarin, 2018). In that regard, sustainable development is of crucial importance because the use of extended resources does not exceed the restoration rate with a focus on preserving natural resources (Duran et al, 2015). Sustainable development is a development that fulfills the needs of the present without affecting the abilities of future generations to meet their inherent needs. The main goal of this concept is to eliminate poverty, protect the planet, and enhance the quality of life and opportunities for everyone in all parts of the world (United Nations, 2022). The idea of sustainability showed up thanks to the joint efforts of many countries to support a global economic development model accordant with environmental preservation and principles of social justice. Sustainable growth turned into a proclamation, whereby governments, enterprises, and citizens agreed to encourage a common aim named sustainability (UANL, 2022). The above-mentioned concept comprises three stages: socioeconomic, the concept of need, and the concept of future generations. Also, there are three pillars of sustainability: environmental which presupposes preserving the quality of the environment and, as a consequence, the quality of life of people. Social sustainability is aimed to guarantee human rights. Economic sustainability seeks to preserve the social and human capital needed to ensure a worthy level of living standards. To achieve these goals it is necessary to reach a balance between all three pillars of sustainable development. Towards attaining the goals there is a tendency when one pillar becomes sustainable, others may turn unsustainable. Especially when it concerns ecological sustainability on which all others depend. The idea of concept suggests the participation of organizations from different countries which will try their best to implement its principles and objectives (Klarin, 2018).

Figure 1: A sectoral of The EU Green Deal (Raqot, 2020).

Three Elements of Sustainability

The concept of sustainability relates to three elements of human life: economic, ecological, and human. The connection between economic growth and the protection of the environment is a substantial problem that can not be resolved without the evaluation of long-term and medium advantages. The human element has a significant role since the concept of equity includes various forms of expressions concerning the evolution of human society. Analyzing the elements of sustainable development it can be concluded that the economic potential is changing gradually, but socioeconomic development changes promptly (Duran et al, 2015). This concept has met a lot of critics and commentaries while being accepted, as it is the most cited definition of our time. (Klarin, 2018). The purpose of sustainable development is not just to protect the environment, but to build a stable, wealthy, and fair society. This implies taking into account the diverse needs of different groups of people, supporting individual well-being, inclusion, and establishing equal opportunities for everyone (Sustainable Development Commission, 2022). In general, the main goal of sustainable development is to make the world a better place to live in.

Figure 2: Concept of sustainable development (Leverage Edu., 2022).

The Presentation of a Concept

For the first time, the concept of sustainability was performed in 1972 at the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm and was accepted as a vision of solving global social, economic, and environmental issues. The participants of the conference endorsed a declaration (Stockholm Declaration) that contained 26 important principles: the Right to Protect the Environment, Management of Natural Resources, Management of Renewable Resources, Conservation of Wildlife, Management of Non-Renewable Resources, Pollution Control, Prevention of Pollution of Seas, Economic and Social Development, Underdevelopment and Natural Disaster, Stability of Prices of Primary Commodities, Environmental Policies, Environment Protection Education, Rational Management of Resources, Rational Planning, Human Settlements, Human Population, Setting of Environmental Pollution Control Agencies at National Level, Use of Science and Technology, Education in Environmental Matters, Further Scientific Research, Rights and Responsibility of Sovereign Nation, Development of International Law, Implementation of Agenda by Every Country, International Cooperation, Coordinated and Dynamic Role, Ban on Nuclear Weapons (United Nations, 2022). Over time, some principles have lost relevance, and new challenges have contributed to the need to change the concept of sustainability. In this regard, a group of leading experts has developed the Bellagio Sustainability and Measurement Principles based on the original Principles of Sustainable Development. The Bellagio principles were developed at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center in Bellagio in 1996. The principles are as follows: Guiding Vision and Goals, Holistic Perspective, Essential Elements, Adequate scope; Practical Focus, Openness, Broad Participation, Ongoing Assessment, and Institutional Capacity (Srinivas, 2014).

Figure 3:The United Nations Global Goals of Sustainable Development (The Earth Negotiations Bulletin, 2020).

The Essence of Sustainability

The essence of the Bellagio Principles is as follows: Guiding vision is the evaluation of progress toward sustainable development, guided by the objective of maintaining well-being with the ability of the biosphere to uphold the next generations. Essential considerations mean that the conception of sustainable development will consider fundamental components of social, economic, and environmental systems. Including governance-related problems, interactions between present trends, risks, uncertainties, consequences for trade-offs, and synergies. Adequate scope is a required time range and geographical scope to assess the long-term and short-term effects of decisions and activities. Framework and indicators are the theoretical frameworks and measurement methods applied to assess the progress of sustainability. The Transparency principle means disclosure of funding, conflicts of interest, data sources, and methodology. Effective communication attracts the widest audience, uses clear language and innovative visual tools, and objectively submits information to build trust. The principle of broad participation reinforces the legitimacy and relevance of sustainability and searches for appropriate ways to address the public's views. The continuity and capacity principle means continuous learning and improvement (Pintér et al, 2012).

Figure 4: Sustainable development - 50 years of progress (Dental tribune,2023).

The Flip Side of Implementation

The primary goal of sustainable development is the long-term stability of the economy and environment. This could be achieved with the integration and recognition of economic and social issues through the decision-making process (Emas, 2015). Mostly any change, which has a global impact, is defined by one specific need, without taking into account possible negative future impacts. Industrial development in the world has led to climate change (Sustainable development commission, 2022). Many international institutions have been engaged in the performance of sustainable development. Although, the concept has a positive impact locally, but showed no great results globally. This observation confirms the fact that the problems still exist. Modern understanding of sustainability is regarded through United Nations Millennium Development Goals: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability, the global partnership for development (United Nations, 2022). The goals are centered on complex global issues such as hunger, poverty, population growth, and climate change. Many developing countries have not come close to sustainable development. Therefore, such a situation arises because of the low socioeconomic development of certain countries and the lack of unity in the global economic and political problems (Klarin, 2018).


Sustainable development emphasizes economic expansion, which involves care for the environment and ecosystem integrity, ensuring a prosperous and fair society. From this point of view, sustainability arises as a complex conceptual and practical proposal that states a minimum of five components: environmental, social, economic, cultural, and political. The components include such aspects as governance, access to assets, equity, opportunities, equality, and others. Considering the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the concept is extremely important. And in this regard, researching and teaching in sustainable development areas are keys to a better future for generations to come.

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Yuliia Sivitska

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