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The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

sustainable_development_goalsBeginning on June 20, 2015, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development convened in Rio de Janeiro to decide on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will guide the United Nation’s development mission after the Millennium Development Goals deadline.

In September 2000, world leaders came together at the Millennium Summit to commit upon a declaration to reduce extreme poverty before 2015. The goals agreed upon at this summit have come to be known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The MDGs have made significant strides toward ameliorating the conditions of many around the world who live in poverty. The Millennium Project reports increases in overall incomes by about 21%, while the number of people living in extreme poverty declined by nearly 130 million. Child mortality rates have dropped, and living expectancy has increased. The MDGs also increased the number of people with access to water and improved sanitation services.

As the MDGs’ deadline approaches, world leaders, along with a multitude of other political actors, gathered at the Rio+20 Conference to decided upon the following Sustainable Development Goals:

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

By addressing global poverty as a complex, multidimensional issue, the United Nations hopes the new SDGs will be able to overcome the MDGs’ limitations and disparities and achieve their objectives as effectively as possible.

– Jaime Longoria

Sources: Millennium Project, UNCSD, UNSD,
Photo: Oxford Research Group