Sustainability of human existence on the planet has been recurrently emerging as a serious concern. The Brundtland Commission in 1987 called for efforts to push towards a path of sustainable development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” and lead us to our quest for common future. It took almost three decades to generate the necessary political will to embrace the spirit of sustainable development as a future roadmap for moving ahead. Agenda 2030, often synonymously referred to as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), was adopted in 2015 to ensure that no one is left behind. 17 sucg goals have been identified with their associated targets (169, to be precise) and 230 indicators to monitor the progress of our journey towards a sustainable world that may turn inhospitable in a few centuries if not consciously protected.
The road to sustainable development requires a delicate balancing act between people and planet that would facilitate prosperity to all living creatures and bring about peace across the globe. The delicate balance in the face of apparent conflict among the actors is proposed to thrive in a spirit of partnership. Thus, evolved the centrality of 5 P’s – people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership – in charting a path towards sustainable development.
Being a part of a global university that aspires to achieve the highest standard of academic credentials, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy (JSGP) considers foray into “sustainability” a fait accompli. Governance of sustainability and the implications of SDGs in designing effective public policy interventions cannot be over emphasized. The Centre for Sustainability housed within JSGP is thus a timely effort by the School to contribute meaningfully to the challenges of achieving Agenda 2030. Being a research-led School, it will engage its students in both academic and action research to understand and disseminate the possible pathways to sustainable development that capture the pluralities in approaches to achieving the goals, rather than looking for a one size fits all solutions.
The interrelationships among the 5 Ps are not straight forward and simple. Rather, they are complex. The linkages vary over space and time and are often highly localized. However, localized aspirations to achieve the SDGs may also breed conflicts at broader levels. Research in sustainable development cannot afford to miss this apparent tension between local and global. Hence the emphasis on fostering enduring partnership among people, on the one hand, and between planet and the people, on the other. The Centre would effectively engage in understanding and documenting such relationships and will partner with other research outfits across the globe in identifying the common threads of ideas to create a global perspective on sustainable development.