U.S.–China Collaboration is Vital to Global Plans for a Healthy Environment and Sustainable Development

WashU affiliated authors: Pratim Biswas (Dept. of Energy, Environmental, and Chemical Engineering)


The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a framework for national and international efforts to further economic development, end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure peace and prosperity for all people by 2030. In the first four years since the SDGs came into force (2016–2019), little to no progress has been made on 107 of the 169 SDG targets, and the world is even moving away from 39 of the targets. In 2020, COVID-19 has created additional setbacks for SDGs. With the year 2030 less than a decade away, an urgent and more ambitious response is crucial to enable SDGs to be realized globally. We need strong leadership to create secure and cooperative partnerships between governments, the private sector, and civil societies around the globe to move these goals forward at pace.

As leading economic powers, the U.S. and China are well positioned to take a leadership role in this action. By building closer collaborations at both governmental and nongovernmental levels and sustained collaborations on science and technology, the U.S. and China can act together to help achieve the SDGs by utilizing complementary expertise and resources. Moreover, the two countries can champion sustainable development through their global reach in trade, investment, aid, technology diffusion, and programs of talent exchange.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c08750