What are the SDGs? | The Sustainable Development Goals
So leaders from these countries created a plan called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 Global Goals imagine a future just 15 years off that would be rid of poverty and hunger, and safe from the worst effects of climate change. It’s an ambitious plan. But there’s ample evidence that we can succeed. In the past 15 years, the international community cut extreme poverty in half.
NOW WE CAN FINISH THE JOB
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is one of the leading organizations working to fulfill the SDGs by the year 2030. Present in 170 countries and territories, we fund projects that will help make the Goals a reality. We champion the Goals so that people everywhere know how to do their part. And we act as “scorekeeper,” helping countries track their progress.
UNDP is proud to continue as a leader this global movement.
What’s your Goal?
1. NO POVERTY
End extreme poverty in all forms by 2030. Yes, it’s an ambitious goal—but we believe it can be done. In 2000, the world committed to halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by the year 2015 and we met this goal. However, more than 800 million people around the world still live on less than $1.25 a day—that’s about the equivalent of the entire population of Europe living in extreme poverty. Now it’s time to build on what we learned and end poverty altogether.
2. ZERO HUNGER
In the past 20 years, hunger has dropped by almost half. Many countries that used to suffer from famine and hunger can now meet the nutritional needs of their most vulnerable people. It’s an incredible accomplishment. Now we can go further and end hunger and malnutrition once and for all. That means doing things such as promoting sustainable agriculture and supporting small farmers. It’s a tall order. But for the sake of the nearly 1 out of every 9 people on earth who go to bed hungry every night, we’ve got to try. Imagine a world where everyone has access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. Together, we can make that a reality by 2030.
3. GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
We all know how important it is to be in good health. Our health affects everything from how much we enjoy life to what work we can perform. That’s why there’s a Goal to make sure everyone has health coverage and access to safe and effective medicines and vaccines. In the 25 years before the SDGs, we made big strides—preventable child deaths dropped by more than half, and maternal mortality went down by almost as much. And yet some other numbers remain tragically high, like the fact that 6 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, or that AIDS is the leading cause of death for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. We have the means to turn that around and make good health more than just a wish.
4. QUALITY EDUCATION
First, the bad news on education. Poverty, armed conflict and other emergencies keep many, many kids around the world out of school. In fact, kids from the poorest households are four times more likely to be out of school than those of the richest households. Now for some good news. Since 2000, there has been enormous progress on the goal to provide primary education to all children worldwide: the total enrolment rate in developing regions has reached 91%. By measures in any school, that’s a good grade. Now, let’s get an even better grade for all kids, and achieve the goal of universal primary and secondary education, affordable vocational training, access to higher education and more.
5. Gender Equality
We can celebrate the great progress the world has made in becoming more prosperous and fair. But there’s a shadow to the celebration. In just about every way, women and girls lag behind. There are still gross inequalities in work and wages, lots of unpaid “women’s work” such as child care and domestic work, and discrimination in public decision-making. But there are grounds for hope. More girls are in school now compared to in 2000. Most regions have reached gender parity in primary education. The percentage of women getting paid for their work is on the rise. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to build on these achievements to ensure that there is an end to discrimination against women and girls everywhere.
6. Clean Water and Sanitation
Everyone on earth should have access to safe and affordable drinking water. That’s the goal for 2030. While many people take clean drinking water and sanitation for granted, many others don’t. Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, and that number is projected to go even higher as a result of climate change. If we continue the path we’re on, by 2050 at least one in four people are likely to be affected by recurring water shortages. But we can take a new path—more international cooperation, protecting wetlands and rivers, sharing water-treatment technologies—that leads to accomplishing this Goal.
7. Affordable and Clean Energy
Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people with access to electricity increased by 1.7 billion. That’s progress to be proud of. And yet as the world’s population continues to rise, still more people will need cheap energy to light their homes and streets, use phones and computers, and do their everyday business. How we get that energy is at issue; fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions are making drastic changes in the climate, leading to big problems on every continent. Instead, we can become more energy-effcient and invest in clean energy sources such as solar and wind. That way we’ll meet electricity needs and protect the environment. How’s that for a balancing act?
8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
An important part of economic growth is that people have jobs that pay enough to support themselves and their families. The good news is that the middle class is growing worldwide—almost tripling in size in developing countries in the last 25 years, to more than a third of the population. But today, job growth is not keeping pace with the growing labour force. Things don’t have to be that way. We can promote policies that encourage entrepreneurship and job creation. We can eradicate forced labour, slavery and human trafficking. And in the end we can achieve the goal of decent work for all women and men by 2030.
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Technological progress helps us address big global challenges such as creating jobs and becoming more energy effcient. For example, the world is becoming ever more interconnected and prosperous thanks to the internet. The more connected we are, the more we can all benefit from the wisdom and contributions of people everywhere on earth. And yet four billion people have no way of getting online, the vast majority of them in developing countries. The more we invest in innovation and infrastructure, the better off we’ll all be. Bridging the digital divide, promoting sustainable industries, and investing in scientific research and innovation are all important ways to facilitate sustainable development.
10. Reduced Inequalities
It’s an old story: the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. The divide has never been starker. We can and must adopt policies that create opportunity for everyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from. Income inequality is a global problem that requires global solutions. That means improving the regulation of financial markets and institutions, sending development aid where it is most needed and helping people migrate safely so they can pursue opportunities. Together, we can now change the direction of the old story of inequality.
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
If you’re like most people, you live in a city. More than half the world’s population now lives in cities, and that figure will go to about two-thirds of humanity by the year 2050. Cities are getting bigger. In 1990 there were ten “mega-cities” with 10 million inhabitants or more. In 2014, there were 28 mega-cities, home to 453 million people. Incredible, huh? A lot of people love cities; they’re centers of culture and business and life. The thing is, they’re also often centers of extreme poverty. To make cities sustainable for all, we can create good, affordable public housing. We can upgrade slum settlements. We can invest in public transport, create green spaces, and get a broader range of people involved in urban planning decisions. That way, we can keep the things we love about cities, and change the things we don’t.
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
Some people use a lot of stuff, and some people use very little—in fact, a big share of the world population is consuming too little to meet even their basic needs. Instead, we can have a world where everybody gets what they need to survive and thrive. And we can consume in a way that preserves our natural resources so that our children can enjoy them, and their children and their children after that. The hard part is how to achieve that goal. We can manage our natural resources more effciently and dispose of toxic waste better. Cut per capita food waste in half globally. Get businesses and consumers to reduce and recycle waste. And help countries that have typically not consumed a lot to move towards more responsible consumption patterns.
13. Climate Action
Every country in the world is seeing the drastic effects of climate change, some more than others. On average, the annual losses just from earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones and flooding count in the hundreds of billions of dollars. We can reduce the loss of life and property by helping more vulnerable regions—such as land-locked countries and island states—become more resilient. It is still possible, with the political will and technological measures, to limit the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels—and thus avoid the worst effects of climate change. The Sustainable Development Goals lay out a way for countries to work together to meet this urgent challenge.
14. Life Below Water
The oceans make human life possible. Their temperature, their chemistry, their currents, their life forms. For one thing, more than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal diversity for their livelihoods. But today we are seeing nearly a third of the world’s fish stocks overexploited. That’s not a sustainable way of life. Even people who live nowhere near the ocean can’t live without it. Oceans absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide that humans produce; but we’re producing more carbon dioxide than ever before and that makes the oceans more acidic—26% more, since the start of the industrial revolution. Our trash doesn’t help either—13,000 pieces of plastic litter on every square kilometer of ocean. Sounds bad, right? Don’t despair! The Sustainable Development Goals indicate targets for managing and protecting life below water.
15. Life on Land
Humans and other animals rely on other forms of life on land for food, clean air, clean water, and as a means of combatting climate change. Plant life makes up 80% of the human diet. Forests, which cover 30% of the Earth’s surface, help keep the air and water clean and the Earth’s climate in balance. That’s not to mention they’re home to millions of animal species. But the land and life on it are in trouble. Arable land is disappearing 30 to 35 times faster than it has historically. Deserts are spreading. Animal breeds are going extinct. We can turn these trends around. Fortunately, the Sustainable Development Goals aim to conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2030.
16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
How can a country develop—how can people eat and teach and learn and work and raise families—without peace? And how can a country have peace without justice, without human rights, without government based on the rule of law? Some parts of the world enjoy relative peace and justice, and may come to take it for granted. Other parts seem to be plagued by armed conflict, crime, torture and exploitation, all of which hinders their development. The goal of peace and justice is one for all countries to strive towards. The Sustainable Development Goals aim to reduce all forms of violence and propose that governments and communities find lasting solutions to conflict and insecurity. That means strengthening the rule of law, reducing the flow of illicit arms, and bringing developing countries more into the center of institutions of global governance.
17. Partnerships for the Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals are a pretty big to-do list, don’t you think? In fact, it’s so big, you may just want to throw your hands up in the air. “Forget it! Can’t be done! Why even try!” But we’ve got a lot going for us. The world is more interconnected today than ever before, thanks to the internet, travel and global institutions. There’s a growing consensus about the need to work together to stop climate change. And the Sustainable Development Goals are no small matter either. 193 countries agreed on these goals. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? 193 countries agreeing on anything? The final goal lays out a way for nations to work together to achieve all the other Goals.