The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as “Transforming Our World”, are part of a U.N. initiative adopted in September 2015. The SDGs are designed to build on the Millennium Development Goals.
As former U.N. Development Program (UNDP) administrator Helen Clark explained, the goals “provide us with a common plan and agenda to tackle some of the pressing challenges facing our world such as poverty, climate change and conflict.” The 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals includes 17 global goals, which are as follows.
17 Sustainable Development Goals
- No Poverty: An end to global poverty means ensuring a sustainable livelihood for all people.
- Zero Hunger: Work to achieve food security, improved nutrition, and the promotion of sustainable agriculture.
- Good Health and Wellbeing: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing through universal health coverage, production of safe and affordable medicines and vaccines and funding for research and development.
- Quality Education: Ensure that all boys and girls get free primary and secondary education and access to affordable vocational training, without experiencing gender and wealth biases.
- Gender Equality: Gender equality and female empowerment is a human right, as well as a necessity for sustainable development.
- Clean Water and Sanitation: Universal access to safe and affordable water requires investment by the international community in infrastructure and sanitation facilities, and taking steps to protect and restore forests, mountains, wetlands, and rivers.
- Affordable and Clean Energy: Critical to the achievement of many other SDGs, investing in infrastructure and technology to provide clean energy will also cause economic growth in developing countries.
- Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth and employment for all people.
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: Industrialization creates jobs and generates income, reducing poverty and increasing living standards for all people. Technological innovation encourages development and provides new jobs.
- Reduced Inequalities: Reducing income inequality, as well as inequalities based on race, sex, age, and other statuses, requires improvement in policies and regulations, promoting economic inclusion.
- Sustainable Cities and Communities: Most of those who are living in extreme poverty reside in cities. Achieving sustainable development in cities requires providing access to affordable housing, investing in public transportation, and improving urban planning.
- Responsible Consumption and Production: Countries must change the way they produce and consume goods, minimizing the toxic materials used and waste generated in the production and consumption processes.
- Climate Action: Climate change affects every country. The international community is working together to develop sustainable low-carbon pathways to the future, and mobilizing $100 billion annually, by 2020, to meet the needs of developing countries.
- Life Below Water: Marine pollution has reached critical levels – every square kilometer of the ocean has an average of 13,000 pieces of plastic litter. Sustainable management and protection of marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution and the impact of ocean acidification is extremely important.
- Life On Land: Forests make up 30 percent of the Earth’s surface. They provide habitats for millions of animal, insect, and plant species, and are sources for clean air and water. The goal is to conserve and restore forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2020.
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.
- Partnerships for the Goals: Strengthen the means of implementation, and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
These 17 SDGs are bold and will require continued strong leadership to achieve. Many countries succeeded in achieving their Millennium Development Goals, so while there is a difficult road ahead it is not an impossible task to create a more prosperous and sustainable world for all.
– Mary Barringer