Sustainability is the greatest challenge of our time. No planetary issue is as urgent as this now. Finding a balance between growth and the use of natural resources has become a major concern for many governments and organizations throughout the world. 

In 2015, the world's governments agreed on 17 objectives for achieving sustainable development by 2030. But despite considerable progress in recent years, sustainable transformation confronts new difficulties that jeopardize previous accomplishments and commitments. The pandemic's repercussions, as well as recent geopolitical events and climate shocks (droughts), have already produced significant changes in core metrics such as poverty reduction, energy prices, and staple foods.

These shifts depict a world that differs from that of 2015, foreshadow the complexity of the next decades, and call for a better and clearer understanding of the meaning and purposes of sustainability not just for scientists and professionals but for all kinds of audiences as we all have to share this value of agreeing on the meaning and purpose of “sustainability” as well as  having a common and shared awareness of the difficulties we face is critical to addressing them.

The transition to a more sustainable model requires complex reforms and huge investments, which necessitate strong cooperation across political, economic, and social players. Being “transdisciplinary” is key. Even before the pandemic, international development agencies identified significant impediments, such as a lack of awareness and knowledge of risks and options for becoming more sustainable; a lack of technical and financial capacity to implement reforms; the absence of an adequate regulatory framework; and a lack of social awareness about the importance of this agenda. Now, the current scenario increases the complexity of the transition towards a sustainable development paradigm.

We have the power and creativity to use data and technology to cultivate an understanding of the urgency of the 2030 Agenda.  International development agencies and multilateral organizations have worked hard to provide open data in order to better issue identification and resolution. However, new challenges associated with disinformation, lack of access, and digital literacy, severely limit the impact of data and technology in building the critical mass of those who will champion, share and act for “sustainability.”