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Sustainable development goals and ethics: building “the future we want”

Abstract

To ensure the survival and quality of life of our species, we seek sustainable development to balance the economic, social and environmental spheres in an ethical and equitable manner. The United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs) have become the guiding principles aimed at guaranteeing a safe space for everyone through awareness and clarity of the responsibilities of each individual. This article addresses different views on the topic “sustainable development,” relating them to ethical issues and then associating the discussions with the SDGs. However, in relation to the subject of ethics and concern for planet Earth, several other documents, such as Laudato Si', Gaia and Gaia 2.0, are of great importance to complement and enrich the discussion. A global perspective is proposed, based on the encyclical Laudato Si', the Gaia theory of James Lovelock, religious concepts and idea of the good of humanity, along with the vision of Timothy Lenton who talks about Gaia 2.0. It is highlighted that understanding the role of the Church, the government and academic research in combating environmental, social and economic problems is of great relevance. Finally, based on the discussions provided herein it can be observed that although the statements and documents examined present similarities in pointing to an ethical agenda, they need further debate and research.

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Acknowledgements

This study was conducted by the Centre for Sustainable Development (Greens), from the University of Southern Santa Catarina (Unisul) and Ânima Institute ‐ AI, in the context of the project BRIDGE—Building Resilience in a Dynamic Global Economy: Complexity across scales in the Brazilian Food-Water-Energy Nexus, funded by the Newton Fund, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa e Inovação do Estado de Santa Catarina (FAPESC), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível superior (CAPES), National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and the Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK).

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Correspondence to José Baltazar Salgueirinho Osório Andrade Guerra.

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Guerra, J.B.S.O.A., Hoffmann, M., Bianchet, R.T. et al. Sustainable development goals and ethics: building “the future we want”. Environ Dev Sustain (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-021-01831-0

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Keywords

  • Sustainable development goals
  • Ethics
  • Laudato Si’
  • Agenda 21
  • The world we want
  • Planetary boundaries