Introduction to GSC
Special Edition

Revised Edition
Introduction to SDGs
GSC plays a driving role in SDGs
Let's change the world towards a sustainable future!

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What are the SDGs?
TThe SDGs are a common set of goals for international society
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Global Goals, are a common set of goals that international society aims to achieve by 2030. These were agreed upon and adopted by 193 member states, including Japan, at the United Nations summit held in September 2015. The SDGs are also recorded in “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” which was adopted at the simultaneously convened 70th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. The SDGs aim to eliminate poverty, protect the Earth, and ensure the peace and well- being of global citizens.

United Nations Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Transforming the world
As indicated by the words “Transforming our world” in the title of the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs aim to transform the world for “People, Planet, Prosperity, and Peace” through “Partnerships” in international society. These “5Ps” are the foundations of the stance that must be taken in order to transform the world.
In order to tackle the SDGs
The 17 goals
The 2030 Agenda cites a basic stance comprising the “5 Ps” to transform the world, and sets 17 specific goals to do this. Additionally, 169 targets have been identified as issues requiring resolution. Among them, the seventh SDG, which can be significantly correlated with GSC, is described in the figure below. The goals cited in the SDGs are universal goals to be tackled throughout the entire world, in both developed and developing nations.
SDG's logo and 17 icons
The 17 goals are interconnected
The 17 goals are interconnected, demonstrating the need for strategies to address climate change and environmental protection while promoting economic growth to solve poverty and meeting a wide range of societal needs such as education and health.
The correlations between the 17 goals can be depicted by the “wedding-cake model” proposed by the Stockholm Resilience Center. In this model, the 17 goals are classified into three interconnected tiers: “economy,” “society,” and “biosphere.” The foundation of this “cake” comprises four “biosphere” goals (goal number 13, 14, 15, and 6), which is followed by the “society” and “economy” tiers (from bottom to top). This illustrates the fact that economy is supported by society, and in turn society is supported by the biosphere or, in other words, the environment. According to the Resilience Centre, without environmental sustainability the sustainable development of society and economy cannot be realized.
Wedding-cake model depicting the concept of SDGs
Correlations between the 17 SDGs (depicted by their interconnection) can enable the formulation of strategies to resolve specific global issues.

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Harmonizing the three elements
The three tiers ("economy," "society," and "biosphere") into which the 17 goals are classified in the wedding-cake model correspond to the three core elements of the SDGs (i.e., economy, society, and the environment). The 2030 Agenda states that in order to achieve sustainable development harmonization between the three elements of economy, society and environment is essential. However, as can be seen from the wedding cake model, environmental sustainability is the premise of all sustainability.
"Social inclusion" means to support all people from loneliness, isolation, exclusion and friction, and to support each other as members of society so that they can lead to healthy and cultured lives. In other words, being a society in which nobody is left behind, in which all people are included and can participate is important in order to transform the world, and absolutely essential for sustainability.
Why are the SDGs necessary?
The preamble to the 2030 Agenda cites “eradicating poverty” as the most important issue, and pledges that “no one will be left behind.” In other words, the SDGs target every country from the developed nations to the developing nations. Why are the SDGs necessary throughout the entire world? Here we will explain about the background to the advent of the SDGs.
International initiatives against poverty
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), formulated in 2001 to overcome poverty in developing countries within a 15-year period (up to 2015), were the forerunners of the SDGs. The MDGs comprise eight goals and 21 targets (including measures against extreme poverty and hunger, the prevention of deadly illnesses, and the establishment of universal primary education) that require the support of the international community. Although the MDGs promoted development in many fields, several issues remained unresolved. For example, the insufficient implementation of initiatives to alleviate poverty in South Africa increased the disparity between the rich and the poor further. It is still vital to continue with initiatives to eradicate poverty.
Maintaining a viable environment (environmental sustainability)
While the MDGs achieved a certain degree of results, over their course the problems surrounding the global environment such as global warming worsened, and these problems had to be addressed. Therefore, by adding the sustainability initiatives that the United Nations has been advocating for many years, the SDGs were created as new goals for the next 15 years of the MDGs. The origins of "sustainability," which indicates the maintenance of the environment in which we live, can be traced back to the concept of sustainable development proposed by the 1987 Brundtland Commission (a global commission on environment and development established by the United Nations in 1984). The concept that the Earth’s resources are finite, and notion of "meeting the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations" became a vital signpost for subsequent global environmental conservation. Later, it became recognized that the widening gap between the wealthy and the poor and the problem of poverty could threaten the survival of human society, and this was clearly demonstrated at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000.
Making an appeal to the world
Earth’s resources are finite. Therefore, resolving global environmental issues is essential for sustainable development. Thus, the SDGs, which were formulated on the basis of the MDGs, are characterized by the addition of new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, and peace and justice, in addition to the poverty elimination set forth in the MDGs. The SDGs are also n urgent appeal to guide all nations along the path of sustainable development. In 2015, along with the adoption of the SDGs, the Paris Agreement was adopted at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Paris Agreement is a set of international rules that serve as a countermeasure against global warming (from 2020 onwards). By tackling climate change in accordance with the Paris Agreement the world will play an important role in the achievement of the SDGs.
The three elements of GSC and SDGs
International trends
Both the SDGs and GSC are intrinsically connected to the history of "sustainable development." It was in the 1970s that the human environment first started to become discussed. The Stockholm Declaration (Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment) was adopted by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, and the international debate on environmental problems commenced. The 1987 Brundtland Commission advocated sustainable development and defined the concept. At the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (also known as "the Earth Summit"), the Rio declaration on Environment and Development was adopted. Sustainable development became an important keyword in the Rio Declaration, and started all sorts of initiatives to achieve harmony with the global environment across the world. Subsequently, targets to achieve sustainable development were stipulated by the United Nations, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (including the SDGs) was adopted in 2015.
History of GSC
In response to the Rio Declaration initiatives towards sustainable development were launched, centering mainly on those involved in chemicals. "Green chemistry (GC)" has been advocated in the United States since 1994. This was based on the idea of manufacturing in ways that do not produce waste rather than processing waste after it has been generated. In 1994 the Sustech Program aimed at sustainable development was established in the EU, and in 1998 the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) started to advocate sustainable chemistry. The basic idea behind these are to design, produce and use efficient, effective, safe and environmentally friendly chemical products and processes.
Around this time, Japan too began to take green chemistry initiatives towards sustainable development, and in 1998 these became known as "green and sustainable chemistry" (GSC), combining reductions in environmental burdens with a sustainable society. In the year 2015 the Statement 2015 was adopted at the 7th International GSC Conference, and GSC initiatives were bolstered.
GSC pursues "chemistry that is friendly to people and the environment and supports the development of a sustainable society." GSC is pursuing the development of chemical technologies that simultaneously achieve the three elements of "coexistence with the global environment," "satisfaction with social needs," and "economic rationality," which are what chemistry can do for the sustainable development of society. Three elements of GSC are contained within the three elements of the SDGs, and the thinking behind them contains many common points. In other words, GSC's activities contribute to the SDGs.
Trends in the UN, the history of GSC, and a comparison of the three elements of GSC
GSC activities contribute toward the achievement of the SDGs.
GSC is a driving force for the SDGs
The Statement 2015 express the pursuit of initiatives in GSC with worldwide cooperation. The GSC principles in Statement 2015 and the SDGs are very similar. The parts of Statement 2015 that correspond to the SDGs are marked in yellow. They have been compiled in Tab. 1. (for more details please refer to:
The initiatives in chemistry toward achieving the SDGs are wide-ranging, and it can be seen how CSC plays a driving role among them.
We, the participants of the 7th International GSC Conference Tokyo (GSC-7) and 4th JACI/GSC Symposium make the following declaration to promote "Green and Sustainable Chemistry (GSC) " as a key initiative in the ongoing efforts to achieve global sustainable development.
The global chemistry community has been addressing future-oriented research, innovation, education, and development towards environmentally-benign systems, processes, and products for the sustainable development of society..
In response to the Rio Declaration at the Earth Summit in 1992 and subsequent global Declarations, the global chemistry community has been working on challenges in a unified manner linking academia, industry, and government with a common focus to advance the adoption and uptake of Green and Sustainable Chemistry. The outcomes include the pursuance of coexistence with the global environment, the satisfaction of society's needs, and economic rationality. These goals should be pursued with consideration for improved quality, performance, and job creation as well as health, safety, the environment across the life cycles of chemical products, their design, selection of raw materials, processing, use, recycling, and final disposal towards a Circular Economy.
Long-term global issues, in areas such as food and water security of supply, energy generation and consumption, resource efficiency, emerging markets, and technological advances and responsible industrial practices have increasingly become major and complicated societal concerns requiring serious attention and innovative solutions within a tight timeline. Therefore, expectations are growing for innovations, based on the chemical sciences and technologies, as driving forces to solve such issues and to achieve the sustainable development of society with enhanced quality of life and well-being.
These significant global issues will best be addressed through promotion of the interdisciplinary understanding of Green and Sustainable Chemistry throughout the discussion of " Toward New Developments in GSC. "
The global chemistry community will advance Green and Sustainable Chemistry through global partnership and collaboration and by bridging the boundaries that traditionally separate disciplines, academia, industries, consumers, governments, and nations.
Comparison of Statement 2015 and the SDGs (the implementation of GSC promotes the SDGs)
Let's think about what each of us can do from our own positions
Dr. Itaru Yasui
Present Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo
Understanding the aims of the SDGs
"SDGs" have in recent years become a frequently heard phrase. Related material has become noticeable, and the number of companies involving themselves in SDGs is increasing. However, it appears that there are very few people who actually have a correct grasp of the original aim of the SDGs. The goals stated in the 2030 Agenda are often referred to as "objectives" in Japan, but their original meaning is not a set of objectives to be achieved. Here their significance lies in everybody showing a stance of approaching the goals. For example, Goal 1 is to "end poverty in all its forms everywhere," but this will surely be far from easy. The 17 goals were created from the perspective of "climate justice", meaning that this is their ultimate destination. The 169 targets are immediate objectives.
Transforming the world
The aim of the SDGs is to transform the world. Let us start by being thoroughly aware of the original aim, and thinking about what we ourselves or as an organization can do. The goals and targets are merely indicators, and it is not necessary to pursue them exactly according to the Agenda. What is important is that everybody aims for the goals and thinks about what they can do from their own position.
In order to do so, it is important for us to have discussions with people of all sorts of positions (which corresponds to Partnership, one of the 5Ps). It is sufficient that all of us think about what we can do in anticipation of the goals, do the things we, as individuals or organizations, can do, and change the current situation even a little. The repetition of such action will link in with the transforming of the world. Please try to read the English language text of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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