The need for greater sustainability in all areas of society is widely acknowledged as one of the most urgent problems the world faces today. It is articulated in strategy documents by individual organisations such as Edinburgh Napier University right through to global bodies such as the United Nations. The Computational Sustainability Lab aims to deepen understanding of sustainability informatics and support the development of sustainable practices in all domains.
The Lab has four main strategic goals:
- To publish novel research on computational aspects of sustainability
- To nurture a network of academics, students and external associates
- To offer educational programmes in computational sustainability
- To raise public awareness of issues of sustainability through outreach activities
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The UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2000, the United Nations launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which set eight development targets to be achieved within 15 years. By 2015, the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries fell from 47% to 14%. During the same period, maternal mortality fell by 45% and ozone-depleting chemicals were virtually eliminated from industrial products. To capitalise on the progress made on the MDGs, a new set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were established in 2016 which have become the current benchmark for sustainability. The declaration defined a series of measurable targets for each goal which UN signatories committed to deliver by 2030.
The SDGs are used to structure the work of the Computational Sustainability Lab. As well as being tied to national and regional targets, they provide a useful conceptual framework for describing the value of projects, data and publications.