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Special Issue "Sustainability and Ethics: Reflections on the UN Sustainable Development Goals"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2018

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Behnam Taebi

Delft University of Technology
Website | E-Mail
Interests: responsible innovation; ethics of sustainability; multilateral risk governance; engineering ethics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability has always been deeply grounded in ethics. The very first influential use of this notion in the Brundtland Report was based on fundamental considerations of social justice, poverty and equality. In the early days, sustainable development related mostly to issues of resource management and environmental stewardship. In the decades that followed, it grew in focus and significance, encompassing a much larger area including agriculture, infrastructures, transport, architecture etc. With the introduction of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the focus of sustainability is expanding even further. Each of the seventeen proposed goals in the SDGs relate to a different morally relevant aspect of life, such as equal rights, safety, justice, well-being, education, good health and more. As such, sustainability has become a comprehensive notion that should guide us in living a good life on the planet.

While sustainability is essentially rooted in ethics, there is no profound understanding of the ethical implications of the SDGs when implemented in national and international policies. This special issue is seeking contributions that could spell out the ethical aspects of each of the SDGs (and the interrelations between the SDGs) as well as contributions that focus on the challenges associated with measuring and reporting of the performances associated with each goal (e.g. the UN SDG indicators). Meeting these goals requires the involvement of a broad range of sciences and engineering, which is why this special issue aims to bring together authors from different academic fields including (but not limited to) engineering sciences, Science and Technology Studies, ethics and philosophy, policy science, sociology and anthropology. Successful implementation of the SDGs will require active participation of very large groups of actors, both nationally and globally. The special issue welcomes papers form both academics and practitioners, including (but not limited to) policy-makers, civil society and the NGOs as well as the private sector.

Dr. Behnam Taebi
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • ethics of sustainability
  • equity and well-being

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessArticle Back to the Future: The Potential of Intergenerational Justice for the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 427; doi:10.3390/su10020427
Received: 12 December 2017 / Revised: 31 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
PDF Full-text (1197 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
The establishment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bolstered momentum to achieve a sustainable future. Undeniably, the welfare of future generations is a fundamental value of sustainable development since the publication of the Brundtland report. Nevertheless, SDGs and their targets are meagre
[...] Read more.
The establishment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) bolstered momentum to achieve a sustainable future. Undeniably, the welfare of future generations is a fundamental value of sustainable development since the publication of the Brundtland report. Nevertheless, SDGs and their targets are meagre on intergenerational justice concerns. The 15-year target horizon of the SDGs might be beneficial for implementation reasons. However, such a short-term perspective is far from innocuous in justice terms. It jeopardises the establishment of long-term goals, which protect both present and future people. This article advocates for clearer stances on intergenerational justice. What type of distributive principles could and should dictate the present socio-economic development? Looking at intragenerational justice principles contained in SDGs does not provide a full answer since they express conflicting visions of what constitutes a fair development. Furthermore, a fair distribution of the development benefits and burdens among present and near future people does not necessarily guarantee the wellbeing of more distant generations. I propose an intergenerational sufficientarian perspective as a way of extending the beneficial impacts of SDGs to both close and distant future generations. Hopefully, it facilitates the translation of the SDGs into policies that promote fairer implementation strategies. Full article

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