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What are the Sustainable Development Goals?

In 2015, The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by world leaders.(2) This agenda included the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) created to improve peace and prosperity worldwide for all people. This blueprint, to be achieved by 2030, works to improve social, economic, and environmental factors, ensuring the current needs of the world are met, while safeguarding global resources and creating a better world for future generations.

The Goals

Goal 1: No Poverty

Over seven hundred million people (10 per cent of the world’s population) still live in extreme poverty.(3) This goal aims to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.”(4)

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Approximately 690 million people (8.9 per cent of the world’s population) are hungry.(3) This goal aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.”(4)

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being

In over 40 per cent of all countries, there are fewer than ten doctors for every ten thousand people,(3) and in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, approximately three million premature deaths were due to avoidable health causes in 2017.(5) This goal aims to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”(4)

Goal 4: Quality Education

Approximately 260 million children (20 per cent of the world’s population for this age group) were not in school in 2018.(3) This goal aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”(4)

Did You Know?

The world’s population is increasing. There will be an estimated two billion extra people living on Earth by 2050.(10)

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Women only held 28 per cent of managerial roles worldwide in 2019.(3) This goal aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”(4)

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

One in three people do not have access to safe drinking water and two in five do not have a hand washing/sanitization station.(3) This goal aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”(4)

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Globally, 24 per cent of electricity generation was renewable in 2016,(6) but currently 789 million people still do not have access to any forms of electricity.(3) This goal aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”(4)

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

In 2019, 174 million people were unemployed worldwide,(7) and with the recent COVID-19 global pandemic, this number is expected to rise by around 25 million in 2020.(8) Goal 8 aims to “promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.”(4)

Did You Know?

The idea for the SDGs came from the Millennium Development Goals. These goals were created in the year 2000 to cut poverty by half.(9)

Goal 9: Industries, Innovation and Infrastructure

Globally, 46 per cent of the world still doesn’t use the Internet.(3) Goal 9 aims to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.”(4) By strengthening economies and adopting new innovations, we can create job opportunities, improve income, and gain a better standard of living.

Goal 10: Reduce Inequalities

Approximately two in ten people have personally experienced discrimination.(3) Goal 10 aims to “reduce inequalities within and among countries.”(4) These inequalities can be based on income, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, class, ethnicity, or religion. By empowering social growth we can create a more inclusive world and a better life for all.

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Half of the world’s population (3.5 billion people) live in cities, and 828 million of those people live in slums.(3) Goal 11 aims to “make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”(4)

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

If the world’s population reaches the estimated 9.7 billion by 2050, it could take three earths to supply the natural resources needed to maintain current demand.(3) Goal 12 aims to “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.”(4) By conserving natural resources and responsibly and evenly distributing those resources, we can ensure a future of development and survival for all people.

Did You Know?

The SDGs are the result of a three-year process involving eighty-three national surveys that engaged over seven million people. This makes it the biggest consultation in UN history.(9)

Goal 13: Climate Action

Globally, 2019 was the second warmest year on record. Natural disasters are also on the rise, affecting approximately thirty-nine million people in 2018.(3) Goal 13 aims to take “urgent action to tackle climate change and its impacts.”(4)

Goal 14: Life Below Water

Over three billion people depend on marine life for their livelihood. Their workplace, the ocean, is degraded by an estimated five to twelve million metric tonnes of plastic every year.(3) Goal 14 aims to “conserve and sustainably use the world’s ocean, seas and marine resources.”(4)

Goal 15: Life on Land

Every year, ten million hectares of forest is destroyed, and over thirty-one thousand plant and animal species are threatened with extinction.(3)Goal 15 aims to “sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.”(4)

Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

More than seventy million people fled war, persecution, and conflict in 2018, and everyday a hundred civilians are killed in armed conflicts.(3) Goal 16 aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.”(4)

Goal 17: Partnerships

Achieving the SDGs is no easy task, and it will take more than one country or organization to see this agenda become a success. By forming a united front, we can accomplish more innovation and change at a faster rate. Global funding for data and statistics around the SDGs was 690 million dollars in 2018, however this was still only 50 per cent of what was needed.(3) Goal 17 aims to “revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.”(4)

For more information on The Sustainable Development Goals explore our Nourishing Minds publications here.


4 UN—The 17 Goals

6 Center for Climate and Energy Solutions—Renewable Energy

10 Farming First—Sustainable Development Goals


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