United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

GSDR 2014

Global Sustainable Development Report 2014


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Download the 2014 edition of the Global Sustainable Development Report

The Prototype Global Sustainable Development Report illustrates a range of potential content, alternative approaches, and various ways of participation, in order to support Member States' deliberation on the scope and methodology of future editions of the Report.

It maps sustainable development assessments and related processes and highlights emerging issues identified by scientists; assesses sustainable development progress; tells the “stories” of future pathways toward sustainable development based on the literature and discusses investment and technology needs; assesses various approaches to measuring sustainable development progress; identifies lessons learnt from national, regional and global case studies of the climate-land-energy-water-development nexus; presents illustrative science digests for decision-makers; and summarizes various views of Member States and others on the process, methodology and scope of future reports.

All Member States, political groups and all 53 UN organizations of ECESA-Plus were invited to make proposals on the scope and methodology of a global sustainable development report, inter alia, through a questionnaire. The views expressed in these inputs agree on most key elements relating to scope and methodology of the Report. Reflecting these views, the Secretary-General in his report E/2014/87 of June 2014 proposed 3 options:

  • Option 1: Conventional UN flagship publication model
  • Option 2: Multi-stakeholder, multi-level approach
  • Option 3: Intergovernmental Panel on Sustainable Development

At the second meeting of the HLPF, overwhelming preference was expressed for the second option: a multi-stakeholder, multi-level approach to preparing future reports. The Ministerial Declaration of the HLPF reconfirmed the need for and the mandate to prepare the GSDR.



Tools and resources for the Global Sustainable Development Report

A number of quantitative and qualitative tools are being used in the preparation of the Global Sustainable Development Report. They will be described here in due course. One example of the tools developed specifically for this report is an open-source, global model of the climate-landuse-energy-water-development nexus (CLEW).


Global CLEW model


An integrated systems approach is used to find innovative solutions to the simultaneous achievement of multiple objectives. When interconnections are being taken into account between activities to address objectives in the climate, land-use, energy, water, materials and development areas, better solutions can be identified that resolve important trade-offs building on synergies. In order to provide a firm basis for the emerging, national-level CLEW assessments and planning exercises, the United Nations works with the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) to develop a global model. Such model may also support decision-making on the planned Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as the areas covered by the model overlap with those typically highlighted as priority areas by Governments in the SDG process. The model will allow for the visualisation of the effects of policy decisions in key sectors of relevance for sustainable development. The tool allows for direct economic comparison between policy options and illustrates environmental consequences and social implications. In fact, it is a mini-SDG model. It is being developed as an open-source tool (using OSeMOSYS) with input data derived from an open-process.


Key References

Chapter 1:


  • Deep roots – A conceptual history of ‘sustainable development’ (Nachhaltigkeit), 2007. [more]
  • Our Common Journey: A Transition Toward Sustainability, 1999. [more]
  • Sustainable Development in the 21st century study, 2012. [more]
  • Wiki surveys: open and quantifiable social data collection, 2012. [more]
  • What is sustainable development? 2005. [more]
  • Interpreting Sustainability in Economic Terms, 2003. [more]


Chapter 2

  • Changes in the global value of ecosystem services, 2014. [more]
  • International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, 2009. [more]
  • Knowledge systems for sustainable development, 2003. [more]
  • How Do Scientific Assessments Learn? 2002. [more]
  • Evolution and structure of sustainability science, 2011. [more]
  • Global Energy Assessment, 2012. [more]
  • Institutions, Climate Change and Cultural Theory: Towards a Common Analytical Framework, 1999. [more]
  • Global Environmental Outlook 5, 2012. [more]
  • Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, 2010. [more]
  • GSDR Background Paper: A review of national sustainable development assessments, 2013. [more]
  • Integrated analysis of climate change, land-use, energy and water strategies, 2013. [more]
  • Applying Strategic Environmental Assessment: Good Practice Guidance for Development Co-operation, 2006. [more]
  • The art of science advice to government, 2014. [more]
  • Global Risks 2014, Ninth Edition. [more]
  • New and emerging issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, 2014. [more]
  • 21 Issues for the 21st Century, 2012. [more]


Chapter 3:


  • Long-Term Trends and a Sustainability Transition, 2003. [more]
  • Readings in Sustainability Science and Technology, 2010. [more]
  • World Population Prospects, 2013. [more]
  • International shortfall inequality in life expectancy in women and in men: 1950–2010, 2013. [more]
  • Global Health Risks, 2009. [more]
  • Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, 2012. [more]
  • World Economic Outlook, 2013. [more]
  • Beyond GDP: Measuring and achieving global genuine progress. Ecological Economics, 2013. [more]
  • Global Wealth Databook, 2013. [more]
  • Global Income Inequality by the Numbers: in History and Now - An Overview, 2012. [more]
  • Lessons from the history of technology and global change for the emerging clean technology cluster, 2011. [more]
  • Global patterns of material use, 2010. [more]
  • A national and international analysis of changing forest density, 2011. [more]
  • Global human appropriation of net primary production doubled in the 20th century, 2013. [more]


Chapter 4

  • Environment Outlook for 2050, 2012. [more]
  • Roads from Rio+20 – Pathways to achieve global sustainability goals by 2050, 2012. [more]
  • Energy Pathways for Sustainable Development, GEA, 2012. [more]
  • Energy for a Shared Development Agenda: Global Scenarios and Governance Implications, 2012. [more]
  • Human Capital, Innovation, and Climate Policy: An Integrated Assessment, 2013. [more]
  • Global resource modelling of the climate, land, energy and water (CLEWs) Nexus using the open-source energy modelling system (OSEMOSYS), 2013. [more]
  • Living Planet Report 2012: Biodiversity, biocapacity and better choices, 2012. [more]
  • Vision 2050: The new agenda for business, 2010. [more]
  • Global Risk Report, 2012. [more]
  • Special Report on Emissions Scenarios, 2000. [more]
  • 2052: A global forecast for the next 40 years, 2012. [more]
  • A safe operating space for humanity, 2009. [more]
  • Financing for sustainable development: Review of global investment requirement estimates, 2013. [more]
  • GSDR Background Paper: Financial approaches to support implementation of global goals and targets, 2014. [more]


Chapter 5

  • Indicators of Sustainable Development, Guidelines and Methodologies, 2007. [more]
  • A policy scenario analysis of sustainable agricultural development options: a case study for Nepal, 2000. [more]
  • Millennium Development Report, 2013. [more]
  • Report of Sponsorship Group on Measuring Progress, Well-being and Sustainable Development, 2011. [more]
  • GDP and beyond – Measuring progress in a changing world, 2009. [more]
  • A theoretical foundation to support the Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW), Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI), and other related indexes, 2003. [more]
  • A summary of ISEW and GPI studies at multiple scales and new estimates for Baltimore City, 2011. [more]
  • Manual for calculating adjusted net savings, 2002. [more]
  • Measuring sustainable development, 2009. [more]
  • Framework and suggested indicators to measure sustainable development, 2013. [more]
  • How’s Life? Measuring Well-being, 2011. [more]
  • Human Sustainable Development Index, 2010. [more]
  • Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space, 2012. [more]
  • Estimation of Gross Domestic Product at Sub-National Scales using Nighttime Satellite Imagery, 2007. [more]
  • A global poverty map derived from satellite data, 2009. [more]
  • Measuring Progress Towards Sustainable Development Goals, 2013. [more]
  • Monitoring of SDG Implementation Infrastructure and Methodology – Proposal for Action, 2014. [more]


Chapter 6

  • Considering the energy, water and food nexus, 2011. [more]
  • Planetary Boundaries?: Exploring the Safe Operating Space for Humanity, 2009. [more]
  • The social cost of carbon?: what does it actually depend on? 2006. [more]
  • World Energy Outlook 2012. [more]
  • Perspectives on Sustainable Energy for the 21st Century, 2012. [more]
  • Climate volatility deepens poverty vulnerability in developing countries, 2009. [more]
  • Climate and energy-water-land system interactions, 2012. [more]
  • Global resource modelling of the climate, land, energy and water (CLEWS) nexus using the open source energy modelling system (OSEMOSYS), 2013. [more]
  • Integrated analysis of climate change, land use, energy and water strategies, 2013, [more]
  • A scoping study on the macroeconomic view of sustainability, 2010. [more]
  • 2050 Pathways Calculator, 2013. [more]
  • Adding value with CLEWS – Modelling the energy system and its interdependencies for Mauritius, 2014. [more]
  • Bioenergy Development in Thailand: Challenges and Strategies, 2013. [more]


Chapter 7

  • The Experience of ISLANDS in Deploying System Dynamics Modeling as an Integrated Policy Tool, 2014. [more]
  • A proposed approach to assessing the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus under the UNECE Water Convention, 2013. [more]
  • Ocean acidification: the other CO2 problem, 2009. [more]
  • Ocean acidification: The newest threat to the global environment, 2011. [more]
  • Taking action against ocean acidification: a review of management and policy options, 2013. [more]
  • Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide, 2009. [more]
  • Is a New Multilateral Environmental Agreement on Ocean Acidification Necessary?, 2012. [more]
  • Ocean acidification and climate change: synergies and challenges of addressing both under the UNFCCC, 2012. [more]
  • Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity, 2009. [more]
  • Tipping elements in the Earth's climate system, 2008. [more]
  • First Census of Marine Life 2010, 2010. [more]
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. [more]
  • Climate change and sustainable food production, 2013. [more]
  • Options to reduce the environmental effects of livestock production – Comparison of two economic models, 2013. [more]
  • The state of food insecurity in the world, 2010. [more]
  • A Framework for Sustainability Transition: The Case of Plant-Based Diets, 2013. [more]
  • Can carbon footprint serve as an indicator of the environmental impact of meat production?, 2013. [more]
  • Integrated sustainability assessment: what is it, why do it and how?, 2006. [more]

National reports

The Global Sustainable Development Report will aim to provide a simple guide to map out salient regional and national assessments on sustainable development, and highlight their features for policy makers' easy references. If you have questions or are interested in making a contribution to the section on national assessments, please contact us here.


Title Publisher Year
Image removed. Global Sustainable Development Report (Advance Unedited Version) UNDESA 2015
Image removed. Prototype Global Sustainable Development Report UN-DESA 2014
Image removed. China Sustainable Development Report 2013 - the road to ecological civilization: the next decade China 2013
Image removed. Synthesis of National Reports for RIO+20 UN DESA/UNDP 2012
Image removed. Turkey’s Sustainable Development Report – Claiming the Future 2012 UNDP 2012
Image removed. Vietnam: Implementation of Sustainable Development: National Report at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) Vietnam 2012
Image removed. India: Sustainable Development in India: Stocktaking in the run up to Rio+20 India 2011
Image removed. Ukraine: OECD Investment Policy Reviews: Ukraine 2011 OECD 2011
Image removed. Brazil Low-carbon - Country Case Study The World Bank 2010
Image removed. Mexico: Low-carbon Development for Mexico ESMAP 2010
Image removed. Russia: The 13th Human Development Report for the Russian Federation, Energy Sector and Sustainable Development UNDP 2010
Image removed. Argentina: Foreign Investment and Sustainable Development in Argentina Tuft 2008
Image removed. Indonesia: Low Carbon Development Options for Indonesia The World Bank 2008
Image removed. Iran: Energy and Sustainable Development in Iran Helio International 2006
Image removed. Thailand: Supporting Sustainable Development in Thailand: A Geographic Clusters Approach World Bank 2006
Image removed. South Africa: The Challenge of Sustainable Development UNDP 2003


The Global Sustainable Development Report will, inter alia, aim to bring together dispersed sustainable development assessments and related processes. To this end, assessment initiatives are called upon to share brief descriptions (1-4 pages) which will be featured on the Website. Briefs provided by third parties may also be considered. The briefs should ideally address the following elements:

  • scientific or thematic topic(s) addressed by the assessment
  • geographical scope of the assessment
  • time period covered by the assessment
  • total number of editions completed
  • methodology employed to prepare this assessment
  • funding arrangements
  • peer review arrangements

In addition, academic articles reviewing the landscape of assessments for sustainable development may also be submitted. To make a contribution or for further information, please contact us at http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/account.php?menu=1727.

The following is a list of the publications and outlooks considered in the present report. Direct Web links are provided for ease of reference.

Selected UN flagship reports



The preparation of the Prototype Global Sustainable Development Report was coordinated by UN-DESA’s Division for Sustainable Development and involved the collaboration of multiple UN entities including the CBD, ECLAC, ESCAP, ECE, ESCWA, FAO, ILO, IAEA, IMO, OHRLLS, UNCCD, UNCTAD, UNEP, UNESCO, UNFCCC, UNFPA, UN-Habitat, UNIDO, WFP and The World Bank. The IMF participated as an observer. Preparation of the Prototype Report also involved a wide network of natural and social scientists, including scenarios and other modelling communities.

Stakeholders inputs

Response to the questionnaire on the scope and methodology of a global sustainable development report

Responses to the questionnaire on scope and methodology of a global sustainable development report were received from China, Costa Rica, Croatia, the European Union, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the UK, as well as from CDP, ESCAP, ECLAC, UNEP, UNCTAD, and WMO. In addition, related written inputs were considered from experts and UN partners who participated in expert group meetings that were convened in support of the Report in 2013. .This includes, inter alia, written responses by CBD, ECE, FAO, IAEA, UNEP and UNESCO.

Member States

United Nations

Your ideas

Social and natural scientists, here is your chance to provide your ideas and suggestions for the Global Sustainable Development Report! 

Your inputs will be fully considered in determining key messages and findings of the Report. The aim is to collect a wide range of views from scientists, especially young scientists, representing scientific communities across the world.

There are one or more questions for each chapter of the Report (see outline). You may rate ideas submitted by other scientists and/or add your own ideas. Please try to be specific and concise, as idea inputs are limited to 140 characters each. There is no limit to how many ideas you submit or how many votes you make for ideas.

Please note that the information below is user generated and does not necessarily represent the views of the United Nations or its senior management, see disclaimer.

In case you encounter technical issues using the widgets below, you may want to try the direct links provided in this PDF file. For your vote to be registered, you need to enable cookies in your browser. Cookies allow us to calculate things like the median number of votes per session and the average number of times voters return to their wiki surveys.

Chapter I: Introduction

Chapter II: Assessments for sustainable development

  • Which sustainable development issue should decision-makers consider for action?
  • Which sustainable development assessment would you like to bring to the attention of decision-makers?
  • Which message on sustainable development assessments do you prefer for Chapter II?

Chapter III: Review of progress

  • Which message on global sustainable development progress do you prefer for Chapter III?

Chapter IV: Future pathways toward sustainable development

  • What do you think the world will be like in 2050?
  • What kind of world would you like to see for yourself, your children and grandchildren in 2050?

Chapter V: Making and measuring progress

  • What "means of implementation" are needed more for achieving global sustainable development? "Means of implementation" are, for example, finance, technology, trade, and capacity building.
  • What policies or actions are needed more for achieving global sustainable development?
  • What is a more suitable, overall measure of progress toward sustainable development?

Chapter VI: Special theme: The climate-land-energy-water-development nexus

  • Which message or idea should we include in the Climate-Land-Energy-Water-Development Nexus chapter?

Chapter VII: Issues for consideration

  • Which overall finding or policy recommendation should we highlight in the Global Sustainable Development Report?

This question will be opened for inputs as soon as we will have received a significant amount of inputs for chapters I to VI. Please check back later to make your contribution.


Related Goals