The United Nations sustainability goals: How can sustainable chemistry contribute?

Elsevier, Current Opinion in Green and Sustainable Chemistry, Volume 13, October 2018, Pages 150-153.
Paul T. Anastas and Julie B. Zimmerman


The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's) have exceptional value in identifying key areas of challenge that need urgent improvement if we are to move away from the unsustainable trajectory that we are on. The place that is a major shortcoming of these goals is that they take a highly integrated and inextricably linked system, and express them as individual areas such as food, water, poverty, materials, empowerment, etc. In the absence of systems thinking, there is an excellent chance of noble intentions bringing about unintended and perhaps counter-productive consequences. As we employ sustainable chemistry and the tools of its scientific basis, green chemistry, to address so many of these challenges, it is important to integrate these tools not as isolated individual principles or methods, but rather as an integrated interconnected system as well.