John Drexhage and Deborah Murphy’s UN background paper, “Sustainable Development: From Brundtland to Rio 2012
,” looks at how “sustainable development” has evolved since the 1987 Brundtland Report
first brought the concept to the forefront of the international community’s attention. Drexage and Murphy write that climate change has become a “de facto
proxy” for sustainable development and they offer various recommendations for how policymakers and institutions can better integrate social and economic issues into a sustainable development framework. Considering that “increasing consumption, combined with population growth, mean that humanity’s demands on the planet have more than doubled over the past 45 years,” the authors conclude that “the opportunity is ripe” to bring “real systemic change” to how the world thinks about – and acts on – sustainable development.
The World Bank’s World Development Report 2011 makes an argument for “bringing security and development together to put down roots deep enough to break the cycles of fragility and conflict.” The report gives an overview of the “interconnections among security, governance, and development” and offers recommendations on how understanding and addressing them can end cycles of violence. Just as Drexhage and Murphy point to population changes as a challenge for sustainable development, the World Bank notes that growing urbanization has “increased the potential for crime, social tension, communal violence, and political instability” locally while a threefold increase in refugees and internally displaced persons over the past 30 years has put strains on regional relations around the world. Though the report acknowledges that there’s no quick fix to any of these problems, the conclusion underlining the report’s findings is that “strengthening legitimate institutions and governance to provide citizen security, justice, and jobs is crucial to break cycles of violence.”