The Imperativeness of Advancing Sustainable Development

June 2016
By Andreas Theophanous, Professor of Political Economy and President of the Center for European and International Affairs of the University of Nicosia

The following article is part of the SFG publication “Big Questions of Our time: The World Speaks”. To access the full publication please click here.


Our complex world today is facing multiple problems and challenges in various countries and regions. These include poverty, injustice, great inequalities, violence, intolerance, ethnic and religious fanaticism, terrorism, violation of human rights, unemployment and serious deterioration of the environment. Currently the huge migrant crisis and the inability to deal with it effectively have been receiving international attention.  The magnitude of the problems is such that the definitions of concepts have been changing. For example, in the past security focused more on the state level and on macro issues. Today this definition will be incomplete if we do not include the concept of individual security.

These problems and challenges could be addressed under three broad categories: sustainable development, security and governance. I choose to underline the objective of sustainable development because its implementation will also inevitably influence positively the other two important themes.  Indeed, the advancement of sustainable development regionally and internationally will improve security, governance as well as the environment. That brings us to the definition of sustainable development.  Several thinkers have devoted time to address this issue.  Sustainable development goes beyond economic growth as it entails the improvement of the standard of living, equitable distribution and at the same time an upgrading of the sophistication of a society at the collective and individual level.  It also entails the existence of an effective health and educational system as well as offering equal opportunities and guaranteeing human rights and democratic processes.  Sustainable development also entails pursuing policies which will lead to balanced growth and respect for the environment.

It is essential that while sustainable development is advanced at the national level, a minimum level of international cooperation should also exist for its advancement. Last but not least the new paradigm will inevitably entail a new value system at the national and international level which emphasizes quality of life and mutual respect.

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