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What are the UN SDGs?

In 2015 the United Nations Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The purpose of this agenda was to reach overall peace and prosperity for the world by 2030 by focusing on ending poverty. This is through strengthening human rights on the basis of sustainable development. The core of sustainable development involves environmental, social, and governance. There are 17 goals in which the United Nations have adopted which will help reach the agenda by 2030. These are aptly titled the Sustainable Development Goals. Here is a quick rundown of each goal and its importance to the cause:

Goal 1: No poverty

The first goal focuses on the main reason for sustainable development which is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. 10% of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty when the goals were first adopted. These 700 million people did not have basic needs such as health, education, and access to water and sanitation. It is important for these individuals to have enough and end their poverty as their fortune is linked with the rest of the population. By lifting them up, it would also help prevent others from ending up in poverty too.

Goal 2: Zero hunger

The second goal of zero hunger is to help those who are food insecure, to improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. Over 30% of the world’s population did not have regular access to adequate food in 2020. World hunger entraps those in its clutches as those without food are less productive and have a higher difficulty improving their livelihood. Providing access to food would give people the strength to let them prosper from their situation.

Goal 3: Good health and well being

The third goal ensures healthy lives and promotes well-being for all ages. Many poor communities lack sufficient health facilities, medical supplies, and healthcare workers, therefore, keeping them in poverty as it would be difficult to earn money when sick. Healthy individuals create prosperous societies as they would have the health to resist diseases and be able to be productive.

Goal 4: Quality education

The fourth goal of quality education gives people the knowledge to stay out of poverty. This is because education helps develop skills for individuals to stay healthy, get jobs, and foster tolerance. It enables upward socioeconomic mobility and reduces inequalities. However, ⅕ of children in 2018 are out of school, which hinders their chances of a prosperous life.

Goal 5: Gender equality

The fifth goal is to achieve gender quality and empower all women and girls. Many societies are patriarchal and often neglect women and girls to achieve in life compared to men and boys even though they are half of the population. This inequality stagnates social progress as society is not tapping into the potential of women and girls.

Goal 6: Clean water and sanitation

The sixth goal of clean water and sanitation ensures that there is access to water and sanitation for all. Water is necessary for survival however billions of people lack this access as the demand outpaces the growth of the population. There are many countries that face challenges with water scarcity, water pollution, degraded water-related ecosystems, and cooperation over transboundary water basins. Progress must quadruple in order to reach the 2030 goal.

Goal 7: Affordable and clean energy

The seventh goal is to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy. This is key to developing agriculture, business, communications, education, healthcare, and transportation. The current issue lies in the disparities of energy access as poorer communities don’t have access to technologies such as safe cooking fuels.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth

The eighth goal of decent work and economic growth promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and work for all. This growth drives progress and in turn, creates jobs for people to work and lowers unemployment rates. These new jobs, which provide a fair income, can improve living standards and thus create prosperity.

Goal 9: Industry, innovation, and infrastructure

The ninth goal focuses on building infrastructure, promoting sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation. This builds resilience in society as a strong infrastructure and sustainable industry can lead to faster recovery in the face of adversaries and change.

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

While the fifth goal focuses on gender inequality, the tenth goal aims to reduce inequality within and among countries. Inequalities come in many forms such as economic, sex, age, disability, etc, and are growing for 70% of the population. By reducing inequalities, society can reduce poverty and increase self-fulfillment as there would be less crime, disease, and environmental degradation.

Goal 11: Sustainable cities and communities

The eleventh goal focuses on making cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. This means focusing on urban areas as majority of the population lives in those places. Four billion people oftentimes are affected by air pollution, inadequate infrastructure and services, and unplanned urban sprawl. If left unattended, the quality of life of these individuals would continue to decrease due to issues such as tangled traffic and greenhouse gas emissions.

Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production

The twelfth goal ensures sustainable consumption and production patterns. Unsustainable consumption is the main cause of negative planetary effects of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution. By promoting responsible consumption and production would we see improvements in resource efficiency and other considerations involving the environment.

Goal 13: Climate action

The thirteenth goal is to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. With the rising global temperature, impacts such as floods and droughts are affecting the population, especially those living in poverty. With 2010-2019 being the warmest decade recorded, climate disasters followed suit. The Paris Agreement is a global initiative used to combat this issue. However, more needs to be done in order to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target.

Goal 14: Life below water

The fourteenth goal of life below water aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources. 70% of the world is covered in water and it is our responsibility to maintain its health due to our reliance on it. The world’s water helps combat climate change through its absorption of carbon dioxide and provides us and those living in its ecosystem resources. However, human activity has caused the degradation of these waters so we must reverse these effects in order to reach prosperity.

Goal 15: Life on land

The fifteenth goal aims to sustainably manage forests, combat deforestation, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss. While most of the planet is covered in water, the rest is covered in land. Similar to the planet’s waters, we rely on the land for resources such as food, water, shelter, etc. However, human activity has negatively affected these ecosystems. Biodiversity loss affects 80% of organisms living on these lands, which can lead to grave issues such as climate change and natural disasters.

Goal 16: Peace, justice, and strong institutions

The sixteenth goal aims to promote just, peaceful, and inclusive societies. By lessening violence can society prosper as crime and exploitation negatively affects individuals living there. Governments, civil society, and communities have this responsibility to come together to put up institutes that bring about justice. To feel peace and safety regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, or faith is necessary to reach this target.

Goal 17: Partnerships

The seventeenth and final goal aims to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. The agenda can only be fulfilled if each country does its part to reach each goal. They must help each other so none falls behind. These partnerships are important for solving the world’s problems and the Sustainable Development Goals are simply a framework to help achieve them.


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