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Sustainability Matters in National Development Visions—Evidence from Saudi Arabia’s Vision for 2030

Sustainability advocates for a universally shared common vision of progress towards a society that is just, safe and sustainable for humanity. Beyond environmental protection, the concept recognizes the urgent need to improve life quality through strategies that build socio-economic growth and address a wide range of cross cutting issues. While consensus abound that a more sustainable society serves everyone, opinions on what sustainability means and how it can be achieved are diverse. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), through the 2030 Vision and the 2020 National Transformation Program (NTP) outlines an agenda for a more balanced growth and socio-economic development. The extent to which the vision systematically aligns with sustainability principles, however, remains unexplored. This research is a maiden attempt to investigate how much sustainability substance is in the 2030 Vision and the NTP of Saudi Arabia. The Sustainable Society Index (SSI) has been employed to examine the 2030 Vision and the NTP to understand the Kingdom’s commitment to building resilient, inclusive and sustainable societies. The vision and NTP texts were matched against five broad measures and 22 sub-measures of the SSI to identity the points of convergence. While both the 2030 Vision and the NTP align with the SSI measures in some respect, the goals and objectives are, at best, a reflection of the needs, aspirations and context of Saudi Arabia. The paper concludes that the success of the 2030 Vision rests on the active involvement and empowerment of relevant stakeholders at all levels as well as the development of comprehensive assessment mechanisms based on which to measure progress towards sustainability.
Input By: 
Eman Lasheen
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