Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. At the heart of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” are 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 related targets that address the most important economic, social, environmental and governance challenges of our time.
A development is sustainable if it ‘meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
The Goals and targets will stimulate action over the next 15 years in areas of critical importance: people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.
  • People - to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.
  • Planet - to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations.
  • Prosperity - to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.
  • Peace - to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.
  • Partnership - to mobilize the means required to implement this agenda through a revitalized global partnership for sustainable development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focused in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people.
  • At the global level, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets of the new agenda will be monitored and reviewed using a set of global indicators. The global indicator framework, to be developed by the Inter Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEA-SDGs), will be agreed on by the UN Statistical Commission by March 2016. The Economic and Social Council and the General Assembly will then adopt these indicators.
  • Governments will also develop their own national indicators to assist in monitoring progress made on the goals and targets.
  • Chief statisticians from Member States are working on the identification of the targets with the aim to have 2 indicators for each target. There will be approximately 300 indicators for all the targets. Where the targets cover cross-cutting issues, however, the number of indicators may be reduced.
  • The follow-up and review process will be informed by an annual SDGs Progress Report to be prepared by the Secretary-General.
  • The annual meetings of the High-level Political Forum on sustainable development will play a central role in reviewing progress towards the SDGs at the global level. The means of implementation of the SDGs will be monitored and reviewed as outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, to ensure that financial resources are effectively mobilized to support the new sustainable development agenda.
Achieving the SDGs will require adequate resources for implementation. The estimates range from 2 billion to 5 billion dollars per year. This amount equates to 4 percent of global GNP. On the one hand, these goals will be funded by the public sector (including through bilateral development aid). But everyone agrees that the private sector will need to do its bit too.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in principle voluntary and so are not binding. This means there will be no consequences should certain countries not achieve certain goals. The political and moral pressure to achieve the Agenda, however, is significant. Moreover, many SDGs refer to existing international agreements, which are legally binding, such as ILO conventions around decent work or Human Rights.

The SDGs form a kind of common dream with the noble targets for a better world. The SDGs are certainly meant to be ambitious. Something to reach for.
There are a number of ways individuals can help achieve the global goals: Raise awareness by talking to your friends and family; get involved in an issue you care about; and make sure your leaders know that the Goals matter to you. And check out MYWorld 2030. The pledge to leave no one behind is embedded at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals. It means that the international community has agreed to make a concerted effort to identify and lift up those who are furthest behind first. This means targeting the most vulnerable people who societies so often miss: from youth, and especially girls; to refugees and migrants; to rural farmers and indigenous populations – and so many others living on the margins of society. It’s about giving voice to those who are furthest behind, but who stand to gain the most as we embark on implementing this ambitious agenda.
It’s significant because it means we have learned a key lesson from the Millennium Development Goals. While they were successful in many ways, it turned out that most countries measured progress in averages – which means that we were leaving out core segments of society. For example, while the world made important progress in reducing poverty overall, often the poorest and most disadvantaged populations, such as adolescent girls in rural communities who face gender discrimination and geographic barriers, did not share in that progress. This time around, governments have pledged to leave no one behind, which means working toward shared progress – so that progress does not only benefit those near the top of society, but also those who are so often on the margins. It’s taking a bottom up approach to development, which has not been the norm.
Yes, the SDGs are identical for all countries. Of course the context differs from one country to another. India will approach poverty and hunger in a different way than Kenya. So every country will have to decide for itself on the way to achieve the SDGs.
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