What are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations?

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Sustainable development is defined as the method of development that meets the needs and desires of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and desires. Sustainable Development is one of the most discussed topics in the present world, as it is the most suitable alternative to development methods that involve rigorous deforestation, elimination of resources etc. The method of sustainable development ensures proper maintenance of the environment, the wise use of available resources, care of all organisms, enhances the quality of human life and community relations and so-on, thereby developing each nation in multiple aspects.


History and Evolution of SDGs

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) took birth at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in 2012. The SDGs replaced the MDGs, or the Millennium Development Goals, which was initiated in 2000, aiming at tackling global poverty, eradicating hunger, preventing deadly diseases and expanding primary education to all children and more. The major objectives of the MDGs were:

  • Eradication of hunger and poverty
  • Achievement of universal primary education
  • Promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women
  • Reduction of child mortality
  • Improvement of maternal health
  • Controlling diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria etc.
  • Ensuring environmental sustainability
  • Development of a global partnership of development

The MDGs were successful to a large extent. The key achievements of the Millennium Development Goals include:

  • Eradication of extreme poverty from the lives of over 1 billion people
  • Significant reduction of child mortality rate
  • Reduction in the percentage of HIV/AIDS infections

“The MDGs helped to lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty, to make inroads against hunger, to enable more girls to attend school than ever before and to protect our planet,” according to Ban Ki-moon.

The SDGs are aimed at continuing the path of work of MDGs towards the betterment of the world, with stronger decisions and plans in relation to facing the challenges that the world faces today.

Sustainable Development Goals

The ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) are to be implemented globally for the betterment of the planet, as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. There are 17 SDGs that aim at ending poverty, eradicating hunger and inequality, tackling climate change and more.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted under the United Nations are:

  1. No Poverty –. It is estimated that over 800 million people still live in extreme poverty. This goal aims at ending poverty in all its forms worldwide, by 2030 and making sure that the ones who have escaped from poverty never fall back into it, by devising measures to improve social security systems. While analyzing the progress of this goal, it is observed that the decline of global extreme poverty continues but has slowed down, and this poses a question as to if the working towards the fulfilling of this goal has been successful so far or not.
  2. Zero Hunger – SDG 2 aims at ending global hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. Nearly 800 million people around the world are undernourished. The goal also looks into the economic aspects of achieving better agricultural productivity and at increasing the income of farmers, increasing the quality of food and implementing sustainable agricultural methods.
  3. Good Health and Well-Being – SDG 3 talks about ensuring healthy lives and promoting well – being for all at all ages. It aims at increasing life expectancy, reducing maternal mortality, decreasing child mortality, improving the fight against communicable diseases, controlling disease outbreaks, making health services accessible to everyone, and addressing issues such as bad mental health.
  4. Quality Education – Discusses ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. This goal is to ensure that all children, adolescents and adults, especially those hailing from the marginalized communities have access to education.
  5. Gender Equality – This goal is devised to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls. As we know, disparities in gender equality and discrimination against women and girls are challenging hurdles to any country. The SDG 5 is aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women in public and domestic places, getting devoid of harmful practices, ensuring equal representation of genders, eliminating child marriage, bringing women to the forefront etc.
  6. Clean Water and Sanitation – Each and every person on this world has the right to access to clean drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities. However, this is still not a reality. A huge part of the population lack basic water and sanitation services. SDG 6, if implemented properly, will assure universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. It also aims at making hygienic sanitation facilities a reality for all, improving water quality, reducing water pollution, managing wastewater efficiently etc.
  7. Affordable and Clean Energy – This goal is to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable. Sustainable and modern energy for all. Energy is one of the most important necessities in life. However, statistics show that almost 1.6 billion people have no electricity and that 2.5 billion people globally rely on traditional biomass as a source of energy. SDG 7 aims at providing access to an affordable, reliable, sustainable modern energy services while promoting wider use of renewable sources and increasing energy efficiency.
  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth – Goal 8 talks about promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. Latest statistics show that about 200 million people worldwide are unemployed. True sense of development will only be achieved when everybody is economically stable. The economic growth and activities of a country largely influence its overall development. This goal also looks into creating decent jobs and demolishing forced labour, slavery and human trafficking.
  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure – Goal 9 aims at building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation. It is all about promoting sustainable industrialization which will increase employment opportunities and GDP by 2030, supporting small scale industries, upgrading infrastructure, improving the research field, upgrading technological capabilities and so-on.
  10. Reduced Inequalities – The prevalence of inequalities within and among countries is a challenge that the world nations have been facing for a long time now. SDG 10 aims at reducing these inequalities that limit the opportunities and participation of certain groups, and constraint their social inclusion, by empowering every social group irrespective of their race, ethnicity, number of members, or other factors.
  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities – As a result of urbanization, the world has seen a huge increase in the number of people living in urban spaces. But, often we find that not all cities are totally safe and inclusive for all. Goal 11 aims at making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. It looks into reducing the level of pollution in cities, employing efficient methods of waste management in cities and in making the city spaces inclusive and safe for all of its inhabitants.
  12. Responsible Consumption and Production – The world population is drastically increasing with time. This also results in a huge increase in the demand for resources. The unscientific patterns of over usage and overexploitation of resources can affect our planet quite adversely. The goal aims at achieving targets of sustainable of waste through reuse-reduce-recycle policy, encouraging firms to adopt sustainable policies, etc.
  13. Climate Action – This goal targets at combating climate change and its impacts. We live in an era in which the nature of our planet is under severe threat due to multiple reasons. The changes in climate patterns and precipitation, increasing emissions of harmful carbon gases, increased use of chlorofluorocarbons, global increase in the temperature levels and the melting of snow in the poles are all posing challenges in front of greedy human who exploits the nature. Goal 13 targets at conserving the nature through various methods, increasing awareness on environment degradation, implementing plans to tackle climate change etc.
  14. Life Below Water – This goal aims at the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. A huge increase in water pollution has posed a serious threat to marine and freshwater organisms. Large scale dumping of plastic and other liquid, as well as solid wastes, has affected the quality of life of aquatic animals. Goal 14 aims at preventing marine pollution of all kinds, minimizing the impacts of ocean acidification, regulating fishing, and enhancing the sustainable use of oceans.
  15. Life on Land – Goal 15 is about conserving the terrestrial biodiversity of our planet, by protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. The goal aims at conservation of ecosystems, fighting desertification and at reducing poaching and hunting.
  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions – A peaceful environment in any place enhances possibilities of development. This goal aims at promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, and nurturing community harmony. It also looks into ending all kind of violence and abuse.
  17. Partnership for the Goals – Goal 17 calls for the strengthening of the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. It reiterates the need for countries to join hands in terms of finance, business, trade, technology and more, thus paving the way to the betterment of themselves and that of each other. A strong global partnership would help the world achieve the goals of sustainable development, together.

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Student of Economics in Miranda House, University of Delhi. Interested in writing, reading, music, painting, public speaking, and debating.Aspiring Economist. A dreamer who loves the smiles and colours of the world.