The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations. The broad goals are interrelated though each has its own targets to achieve. The total number of targets is 169. The SDGs cover a broad range of social and economic development issues. These include poverty, hunger, health, education, climate change, gender equality, water, sanitation, energy, environment and social justice. The SDGs are also known as "Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" or Agenda 2030 in short. The goals were developed to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ended in 2015. Unlike the MDGs, the SDG framework does not distinguish between "developed" and "developing" nations. Instead, the goals apply to all countries.
Paragraph 54 United Nations Resolution A/RES/70/1 of 25 September 2015 contains the goals and targets. The UN-led process involved its 193 Member States and global civil society. The resolution is a broad intergovernmental agreement that acts as the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General from 2007 to 2016, has stated that: "We don't have plan B because there is no planet B." This thought has guided the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda began in January 2015 and ended in August 2015. A final document was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015 in New York, USA.
On 25 September 2015, the 193 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development". This agenda has 92 paragraphs. Paragraph 51 outlines the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the associated 169 targets.
UN agencies which are part of the United Nations Development Group decided to support an independent campaign to communicate the new SDGs to a wider audience. This campaign, "Project Everyone," had the support of corporate institutions and other international organizations.
Using the text drafted by diplomats at the UN level, a team of communication specialists developed icons for every goal. They also shortened the title "The 17 Sustainable Development Goals" to "Global Goals," then ran workshops and conferences to communicate the Global Goals to a global audience.
There are 169 targets for the 17 goals. Each target has 1-3 indicators used to measure progress toward reaching the targets. In total, there are 304 indicators that will measure compliance. The United Nations Development Programme has been asked to provide easy to understand lists of targets and facts and figures for each of the 17 SDGs. The 17 goals listed below as sub-headings use the 2-4 word phrases that identify each goal. Directly below each goal, in quotation marks, is the exact wording of the goal in one sentence. The paragraphs that follow present some information about a few targets and indicators related to each goal.
Extreme poverty has been cut by more than half since 1990. Still, more than 1 in 5 people live on less than the target figure of $1.25 per day. That target may not be adequate for human subsistence, however. It may be necessary to raise the poverty line figure to as high as $5 per day. Poverty is more than the lack of income or resources. People live in poverty if they lack basic services such as healthcare and education. They also experience hunger, social discrimination and exclusion from decision making processes.
Gender inequality plays a large role in perpetuating poverty and its risks. Women face potentially life-threatening risks from early pregnancy and frequent pregnancies. This can result in lost hope for an education and a better income. Poverty affects age groups differently, with the most devastating effects experienced by children. It affects their education, health, nutrition, and security, impacting emotional and spiritual development.
Globally, 1 in 9 people are undernourished. The vast majority of those people live in developing countries. Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40% of the global population. It is the largest source of income for poor rural households. Women make up about 43% of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and over 50% in parts of Asia and Africa. However, women own only 20% of the land. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.
Goal 2 targets state that by 2030 we should end hunger and end all forms of malnutrition. This would be accomplished by doubling agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers and ensuring sustainable food production systems and progressively improve land and soil quality. Other targets deal with maintaining genetic diversity of seeds, preventing trade restriction and distortions in world agricultural markets to limit extreme food price volatility and eliminating waste with help from the International Food Waste Coalition.
A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) of 2013 stated that the emphasis of the SDGs should not be on ending poverty by 2030, but on eliminating hunger and under-nutrition by 2025. The assertion is based on an analysis of experiences in China, Vietnam, Brazil and Thailand. Three pathways to achieve this were identified: 1) agriculture-led; 2) social protection- and nutrition intervention-led; or 3) a combination of both of these approaches.
Significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality. Similarly, progress has been made on increasing access to clean water and sanitation, reducing malaria, tuberculosis, polio and the spread of HIV/AIDS. However, only half of women in developing countries have received the health care they need, and the need for family planning is increasing exponentially as the population grows. While needs are being addressed gradually, more than 225 million women have an unmet need for contraception.
A related need is for reducing maternal mortality to less than 70 per 100,000 live births Goal 3 aims to achieve universal health coverage to include access to essential medicines and vaccines. By 2030, Goal 3 proposes to end preventable death of newborns and children under 5 and end epidemics such as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and water-borne diseases, for example.
Attention to health and well-being also includes targets related to the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, deaths and injuries from traffic incidents and from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination
Major progress has been made in access to education, specifically at the primary school level, for both boys and girls. However, access does not always mean quality of education, or completion of primary school. Currently, 103 million youth worldwide still lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60% of those are women. Target 1 of Goal 4 is to ensure that, by 2030, all girls and boys complete free, equitable, and quality primary and secondary education.
According to the UN, "gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world." Providing women and girls with equal access to education, health care, decent work, and representation in political and economic decision-making processes will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large. A record 143 countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their Constitutions as of 2014. However, another 52 had not taken this step. In many nations, gender discrimination is still woven into the fabric of legal systems and social norms. Even though SDG5 is a stand-alone goal, other SDGs can only be achieved if the needs of women receive the same attention as the needs of men. Issues unique to women include sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, traditional practices against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, such as forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
Achieving gender equality will require enforceable legislation that promotes empowerment of all women and girls and requires secondary education for all girls. The targets call for an end to gender discrimination and empowering women and girls through technology Some have advocated for "listening to girls". The assertion is that the SDGs can deliver transformative change for girls only if girls are consulted. Their priorities and needs must be taken into account. Girls should be viewed not as beneficiaries of change, but as agents of change. Engaging women and girls in the implementation of the SDGs is crucial.
The Sustainable Development Goal Number 6 (SDG6) has eight targets and 11 indicators that will be used to monitor progress toward the targets. Most are to be achieved by the year 2030. One is targeted for 2020.
The first three targets relate to drinking water supply and sanitation. Safe drinking water and hygienic toilets protect people from disease and enable societies to be more productive economically. Attending school and work without disruption is critical to successful education and successful employment. Therefore, toilets in schools and work places are specifically mentioned as a target to measure. "Equitable sanitation" is called for and calls for addressing the specific needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations, such as the elderly or people with disabilities. Water sources are better preserved if open defecation is ended and sustainable sanitation systems are implemented.
Ending open defecation will require provision of toilets and sanitation for 2.6 billion people as well as behavior change of the users. This will require cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector.
The main indicator for the sanitation target is the "Proportion of population using safely managed sanitation services, including a hand-washing facility with soap and water". The current statistic in the 2017 baseline estimate by the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) is that 4.5 billion people currently do not have safely managed sanitation.
The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) has made it its mission to achieve SDG6. SuSanA's position is that the SDGs are highly interdependent. Therefore, the provision of clean water and sanitation for all is a precursor to achieving many of the other SDGs.
Targets for 2030 include access to affordable and reliable energy while increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix. This would involve improving energy efficiency and enhancing international cooperation to facilitate more open access to clean energy technology and investment in clean energy infrastructure. Plans call for particular attention to infrastructure support for the least developed countries, small islands and land-locked developing countries.
World Pensions Council (WPC) development economists have argued that the twin considerations of long-term economic growth and infrastructure investment weren't prioritized enough. Being prioritized as number 8 and number 9 respectively was considered a rather "mediocre ranking and defies common sense"
Attaining at least 7% gross domestic product (GDP) annually in the least developed countries is the economic target. Achieving higher productivity will require diversity and upgraded technology along with innovation, entrepreneurship and the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Some targets are for 2030; others are for 2020. By 2020 the target is to reduce youth unemployment and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment. Implementing the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization is also mentioned.
By 2030, the target is to establish policies for sustainable tourism that will create jobs. Strengthening domestic financial institutions and increasing Aid for Trade support for developing countries is considered essential to economic growth. The Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries is mentioned as a method for achieving sustainable economic growth.
Manufacturing is a major source of employment. In 2016, the least developed countries had less "manufacturing value added per capita". The figure for Europe and North America amounted to $4,621, compared to about $100 in the least developed countries. The manufacturing of high products contributes 80% to total manufacturing output in industrialized economies and barely 10% in the least developed countries.
Mobile-cellular signal coverage has improved a great deal. In previously "unconnected" areas of the globe, 85% of people live in covered areas. Planet-wide, 95% of the population is covered.
One target is to reduce the cost of exporting goods from least developed countries. "Duty-free treatment" has expanded. As of 2015, 65% of products coming from the least developed countries were duty-free, as compared to 41% in 2005.
The target of 3% was established as the cost international migrant workers would pay to send money home (known as remittances). However, post offices and money transfer companies charge 6% of the amount remitted. Worse, commercial banks charge 11%. Prepaid cards and mobile money companies charge 2-4% but those services were not widely available as of 2017 in typical "remittance corridors."
The target for 2030 is to ensure access to safe and affordable housing. The indicator named to measure progress toward this target is the proportion of urban population living in slums or informal settlements. Between 2000 and 2014, the proportion fell from 39% to 30%. However, the absolute number of people living in slums went from 792 million in 2000 to an estimated 880 million in 2014. Movement from rural to urban areas has accelerated as the population has grown and better housing alternatives are available.
Using eco-friendly production methods and reducing the amount of waste we generate are targets of Goal 12. By 2030, national recycling rates should increase, as measured in tons of material recycled. Further, companies should adopt sustainable practices and publish sustainability reports.
The UN discussions and negotiations identified the links between the post-2015 SDG process and the Financing for Development process that concluded in Addis Ababa in July 2015 and the COP 21 Climate Change conference in Paris in December 2015.
In May 2015, a report concluded that only a very ambitious climate deal in Paris in 2015 could enable countries to reach the sustainable development goals and targets. The report also states that tackling climate change will only be possible if the SDGs are met. Further, economic development and climate are inextricably linked, particularly around poverty, gender equality, and energy. The UN encourages the public sector to take initiative in this effort to minimize negative impacts on the environment.
This renewed emphasis on climate change mitigation was made possible by the partial Sino-American convergence that developed in 2015-2016, notably at the UN COP21 summit (Paris) and ensuing G20 conference (Hangzhou).
Oceans cover 71% of the earth's surface. They are essential for making the planet livable. Rainwater, drinking water and climate are all regulated by ocean temperatures and currents. Over 3 billion people depend on marine life for their livelihood. Oceans absorb 30% of all carbon dioxide produced by humans.
The oceans contain more than 200,000 identified species, and there might be thousands of species that are yet to be discovered. Oceans are the world's largest sources of protein. However, there has been a 26% increase in acidification since the industrial revolution. A full 30% of marine habitats have been destroyed and 30% of the world's fish stocks are over-exploited.Marine pollution has reached shocking levels: each minute 15 tons of plastic are released into the oceans. 20% of all coral reefs have been destroyed irreversibly and another 24% are at an immediate risk of collapse. Approximately 1 million sea birds, 100 000 marine mammals and an unknown number of fish are harmed or die annually due to marine pollution caused by humans. It has been found that 95% of fulmars in Norway have plastic parts in their guts.Microplastics are another form of marine pollution.
Reducing ones energy consumption and use of plastics can be done by individuals. Nations can also take action. In Norway, for instance, citizens can work through a web page called finn.no to be paid for picking up plastic on the beach. Several countries, including Kenya, and various communities around the world have banned the use of plastic bags for retail purchases.
Improving the oceans contributes to poverty reduction as it gives low-income families a source of income and healthy food. Keeping beaches and ocean water clean in less developed countries can attract tourism, as stated in Goal 8, and reduce poverty by providing more employment.
The targets include preventing and reducing marine pollution and acidification, protecting marine and coastal ecosystems, and regulating fishing. The targets also call for an increase in scientific knowledge of the oceans.
This goal articulates targets for preserving biodiversity of forest, desert and mountain eco-systems, as a percentage of total land mass. Achieving a "land degradation-neutral world" can be reached by restoring degraded forests and land lost to drought and flood. Goal 15 calls for more attention to preventing invasion of alien species and more protection of endangered wildlife.
The Mountain Green Cover Index monitors progress toward target 15.4, which focuses on preserving mountain ecosystems. The index is named as the indicator for target 15.4. Similarly, the Red Index (Red List Index or RLI) will fill the monitoring function for biodiversity goals by documenting the trajectory of endangered species.
Reducing violent crime, sex trafficking, forced labor and child abuse are clear global goals. The international community values peace and justice and calls for stronger judicial systems that will enforce laws and work toward a more peaceful and just society. By 2017, the UN could report progress on detecting victims of trafficking. More women and girls than men and boys were victimized, yet the share of women and girls has slowly declined. In 2004, 84% of victims were females and by 2014 that number had dropped to 71%. Sexual exploitation numbers have declined but forced labor has increased.
One target is to see the end to sex trafficking, forced labor and all forms of violence against and torture of children. However, reliance on the indicator of "crimes reported" makes monitoring and achieving this goal challenging.
Increasing international cooperation is seen as vital to achieving each of the 16 previous goals. Goal 17 is included to assure that countries and organizations cooperate instead of compete. Developing multi-stakeholder partnerships to share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial support is seen as critical to overall success of the SDGs. Public-private partnerships that involve civil societies are specifically mentioned.
The SDGs might be contradictory. For example, seeking high levels of global GDP growth might undermine ecological objectives. Similarly, increasing employment and wages can work against reducing the cost of living.
Three sectors need to come together in order to achieve sustainable development. These are the economic, social and environmental sectors in their broadest sense. This requires the promotion of multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research across different sectors, which can be difficult.
A commentary in The Economist in 2015 argued that 169 targets for the SDGs is too many, describing them as "sprawling, misconceived" and "a mess" compared to the MDGs. The goals are said to ignore local context. All other 16 goals might be contingent on achieving SDG 1, ending poverty which should have been at the top of a very short list of goals.
On the other hand, nearly all stakeholders engaged in negotiations to develop the SDGs agreed that the high number of 17 goals were justified because the agenda they address is all encompassing.
The Economist estimated that alleviating poverty and achieving the other sustainable development goals will require about $2-$3 trillion USD per year for the next 15 years which they called "pure fantasy". Estimates for providing clean water and sanitation for the whole population of all continents have been as high as 200 billion. The World Bank cautions that estimates need to be made country by country, and reevaluated frequently over time.
Other views are more positive. The SDGs were an outcome from a UN conference that was not criticized by any major non-governmental organization (NGO). Instead, the SDGs received broad support from many NGOs. This is unlike the MDGs, which were strongly criticized by many NGOs as only dealing with the problems; in contrast, the SDGs deal with the causes of the problems. The MDGs were about development while the SDGs are about sustainable development. Finally, the MDGs used a silo approach to problems, while the SDGs take into account the inter-connectedness of all the problems.
Implementation of the SDGs started worldwide in 2016. This process can also be called "Localizing the SDGs". All over the planet, individual people, universities, governments and institutions and organizations of all kinds work on several goals at the same time. In each country, governments must translate the goals into national legislation, develop a plan of action, establish budgets and at the same time be open to and actively search for partners. Poor countries need the support of rich countries and coordination at the international level is crucial.
The independent campaign "Project Everyone" has met some resistance. In addition, several sections of civil society and governments felt the SDGs ignored "sustainability" even though it was the most important aspect of the agreement.
There is widespread consensus that progress on all of the SDGs will be stalled if women's empowerment and gender equality is not prioritized. Statements from diverse sources, such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and UN Women, have noted that investments in women and girls have positive impacts on economies. National and global development investments often exceed their initial scope.
Education for sustainable development (ESD) is explicitly recognized in the SDGs as part of Target 4.7 of the SDG on education. UNESCO promotes the Global Citizenship Education (GCED) as a complementary approach. At the same time, it is important to emphasize ESD's importance for all the other 16 SDGs. With its overall aim to develop cross-cutting sustainability competencies in learners, ESD is an essential contribution to all efforts to achieve the SDGs. This would enable individuals to contribute to sustainable development by promoting societal, economic and political change as well as by transforming their own behavior.
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are free open education offered through online platforms. The (initial) philosophy of MOOCs was to open up quality Higher Education to a wider audience. As such, MOOCs are an important tool to achieve Goal 4 ("Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all"). At the same time, MOOCs also contribute to Goal 5, in that they are gender neutral and can give women and girls improved access to education.
In 1972, governments met in Stockholm, Sweden, for the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, to consider the rights of the family to a healthy and productive environment. In 1983, the United Nations created the World Commission on Environment and Development (later known as the Brundtland Commission), which defined sustainable development as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs". In 1992, the first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, where the first agenda for Environment and Development, also known as Agenda 21, was developed and adopted.
In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio+20, was held as a 20-year follow up to UNCED. Colombia proposed the idea of the SDGs at a preparation event for Rio+20 held in Indonesia in July 2011. In September 2011, this idea was picked up by the United Nations Department of Public Information 64th NGO Conference in Bonn, Germany. The outcome document proposed 17 sustainable development goals and associated targets. In the run-up to Rio+20 there was much discussion about the idea of the SDGs. At the Rio+20 Conference, a resolution known as "The Future We Want" was reached by member states. Among the key themes agreed on were poverty eradication, energy, water and sanitation, health, and human settlement.
The Rio+20 outcome document mentioned that "at the outset, the OWG [Open Working Group] will decide on its methods of work, including developing modalities to ensure the full involvement of relevant stakeholders and expertise from civil society, the scientific community and the United Nations system in its work, in order to provide a diversity of perspectives and experience".
In January 2013, the 30-member UN General Assembly Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals was established to identify specific goals for the SDGs. The Open Working Group (OWG) was tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs for consideration during the 68th session of the General Assembly, September 2013 - September 2014. On 19 July 2014, the OWG forwarded a proposal for the SDGs to the Assembly. After 13 sessions, the OWG submitted their proposal of 17 SDGs and 169 targets to the 68th session of the General Assembly in September 2014. On 5 December 2014, the UN General Assembly accepted the Secretary General's Synthesis Report, which stated that the agenda for the post-2015 SDG process would be based on the OWG proposals.
The annual "Le Temps Presse" festival in Paris utilizes cinema to sensitize the public, especially young people, to the Sustainable Development Goals. The origin of the festival was in 2010 when eight directors produced a film titled "8," which included eight short films, each featuring one of the Millennium Development Goals. After 2.5 million viewers saw "8" on YouTube, the festival was created. It now showcases young directors whose work promotes social, environmental and human commitment. The festival now focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals.
This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0 Licence statement: Making Sense of MOOCs: A Guide for Policy-Makers in Developing Countries, 17-18, Patru, Mariana; Balaji, Venkataraman, UNESCO. UNESCO.
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This article incorporates text from a free content work. Licensed under CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0 Licence statement: Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives, 7, UNESCO, UNESCO. UNESCO.
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