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Review
, 100 (14), 8068-73

Characterizing a Sustainability Transition: Goals, Targets, Trends, and Driving Forces

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Review

Characterizing a Sustainability Transition: Goals, Targets, Trends, and Driving Forces

Thomas M Parris et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.

Abstract

Sustainable development exhibits broad political appeal but has proven difficult to define in precise terms. Recent scholarship has focused on the nature of a sustainability transition, described by the National Research Council as meeting the needs of a stabilizing future world population while reducing hunger and poverty and maintaining the planet's life-support systems. We identify a small set of goals, quantitative targets, and associated indicators that further characterize a sustainability transition by drawing on the consensus embodied in internationally negotiated agreements and plans of action. To illustrate opportunities for accelerating progress, we then examine current scholarship on the processes that influence attainment of four such goals: reducing hunger, promoting literacy, stabilizing greenhouse-gas concentrations, and maintaining fresh-water availability. We find that such analysis can often reveal "levers of change," forces that both control the rate of positive change and are subject to policy intervention.

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