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What is global development in the 21st century?

It used to be that people talked about “global development,” and what they really meant was the tragic shortfall in living standards in the so-called developing world — famine in Ethiopia, dreadful sanitation in India, the spread of infectious disease in the Amazon rainforest.

Since then, we’ve come to understand that the Earth is an interconnected place, and challenges to its future are universal. There is dire poverty in the American Southeast, HIV-AIDS is present in virtually every country, a growing income gap threatens people from Lagos to London.

Ending gender disparity and guaranteeing a decent education are goals shared by communities everywhere. And unless the world as a community can slow the pace of climate change, all other plans for global development fall by the wayside.

The United Nations recognized that new reality in its 17 “Sustainable Development Goals” adopted in 2015 — goals that will take an international effort and trillions of dollars to implement. Starting today, the Los Angeles Times, in partnership with the U.N. Foundation, will highlight some of the issues and challenges involved in building a sustainable future.

Please stop by our Global Development Watch page periodically. We welcome guest op-ed submissions for our “World View” collection (no payment provided). Please send them — and any other comments or suggestions — to globalnews@latimes.com.

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