Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals are a UN Initiative.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is a set of 17 "Global Goals" with 169 targets among them. Spearheaded by the United Nations through a deliberative process involving its 193 Member States, as well as global civil society, the goals are contained in paragraph 54 United Nations Resolution A/RES/70/1 of 25 September 2015.[1] The Resolution is a broader intergovernmental agreement that acts as the Post 2015 Development Agenda (successor to the Millennium Development Goals). The SDGs build on the Principles agreed upon under Resolution A/RES/66/288, popularly known as The Future We Want.[2] It is a non-binding document released as a result of Rio+20 Conference held in 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.[2]

The SDGs were in large measure informed by the perspective reflected in the often quoted assertion by Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secretary-General from 2007 to 2016, that "we don't have plan B because there is no planet B".[3]

On 19 July 2014, the UN General Assembly's Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) forwarded a proposal for the SDGs to the Assembly. The proposal contained 17 goals with 169 targets covering a broad range of sustainable development issues. These included ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, making cities more sustainable, combating climate change, and protecting oceans and forests.[4] 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.[5]

The Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post 2015 Development Agenda (IGN) began in January 2015 and ended in August 2015. Following the negotiations, a final document was adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit September 25-27, 2015 in New York, USA.[6] The title of the agenda is Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.[7][8]


Young people holding the SDGs banners in Lima, Peru

The history of the SDGs can be traced to 1972 when governments met in Stockholm, Sweden, for the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, to consider the rights of the human family to a healthy and productive environment.[9] It was not until 1983 that the United Nations decided to create the World Commission on Environment and Development 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 was held in Rio. The first agenda for Environment and Development, also known as Agenda 21, was developed and adopted in Rio.

Official logos for each of the Millennium Development Goals - the predecessors for the SDGs which were valid until 2015

In preparation for the Rio+20 Conference, Indonesia held a July 2011 government retreat in Solo, Indonesia. At this event, Colombia proposed the idea of the SDGs. This was picked up by the United nations Department of Public Information 64th NGO Conference in September 2011 in Bonn, Germany where 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 SDGs. At the Rio+20 Conference, a resolution, known as The Future We Want[10] was reached by member states. Among the key themes agreed on were poverty eradication, energy, water and sanitation, health, and human settlement.

Paragraph 246 of the Future We Want outcome document forms the link between the Rio+20 agreement and the Millennium Development Goals: "We recognize that the development of goals could also be useful for pursuing focused and coherent action on sustainable development. The goals should address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development (environment, economics, and society) and their interlinkages. The development of these goals should not divert focus or effort from the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals". Paragraph 249 states that "the process needs to be coordinated and coherent with the processes to consider the post-2015 development agenda".

Taken together, paragraph 246 and 249 paved the way for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).[11] The MDGs were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 and the agreement in the Future We Want outcome document. The Rio+20 summit also agreed that the process of designing sustainable development goals, should be "action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities".[12]

Because the MDGs were to be achieved by 2015, a further process was needed. Discussion of the post-2015 framework for international development began well in advance, with the United Nations System Task Team on Post 2015 Development Agenda[13] releasing the first report known as Realizing The Future We Want.[14] The Report was the first attempt to achieve the requirements under paragraph 246 and 249 of the Future We Want document. It identified four dimensions as part of a global vision for sustainable development: Inclusive Social Development, Environmental Sustainability, Inclusive Economic Development, and Peace and Security. Other processes included the UN Secretary General's High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development Agenda,[15] whose report[16] was submitted to the Secretary General in 2013.

17 goals

A diagram listing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

On 25 September 2015, the 194 countries of the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Development Agenda titled Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Following the adoption, UN agencies under the umbrella of the United Nations Development Group, decided to support an independent campaign to help communicate the agreed Sustainable Development Goals to a wider constituency. Known as Project Everyone,[17] the independent campaign introduced the term Global Goals and was supported by corporate institutions and other International Organizations. Because this decision was made without the approval of the member states, it met resistance.[18] In addition, several sections of civil society and governments felt[19] the UNDG ignored "sustainability," even though it was the most important aspect of the agreement. That the term "Global Goals" also refers to several other processes not related to the United Nations was another concern.

The Official Agenda for Sustainable adopted on 25 September 2015 has 92 paragraphs. Paragraph 51 outlines the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the associated 169 targets.

The 17 SDGs are listed below, together with some of their key facts and figures:[20]

Goal 1: No Poverty

There is no poverty - End Poverty in All its Forms - Everywhere [21]

  • Extreme poverty has been cut by more than half since 1990 - however, more than 1 in 5 people live on less than $1.25 a day
  • Poverty is more than lack of income or resources - it includes lack of basic services, such as education, hunger, social discrimination and exclusion, and lack of participation in decision making.
  • Gender inequality plays a large role in the perpetuation of poverty and its risks; They then face potentially life-threatening risks from early pregnancy, and often lost hopes for an education and a better income.
  • Age groups are affected differently when struck with poverty; its most devastating effects are on children, to whom it poses a great threat. It affects their education, health, nutrition, and security. It also negatively affects the emotional and spiritual development of children through the environment it creates.

Goal 2: Zero Hunger

Zero Hunger - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture[22]

  • Globally, 1 in 9 people are undernourished, the vast majority of these people live in developing countries
  • Agriculture is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40 per cent of today's global population. It is the largest source of income and jobs for poor rural households. Women comprise on average 43 per cent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries, and over 50 per cent in parts of Asia and Africa, yet they only own 20% of the land.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45 per cent) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.

Goal 2 targets :

  • By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round
  • By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under 5 years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women and older persons
  • By 2030, double the agricultural productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, in particular women, indigenous peoples, family farmers, pastoralists and fishers, including through secure and equal access to land, other productive resources and inputs, knowledge, financial services, markets and opportunities for value addition and non-farm employment
  • By 2030, ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production, that help maintain ecosystems, that strengthen capacity for adaptation to climate change, extreme weather, drought, flooding and other disasters and that progressively improve land and soil quality
  • By 2020, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species, including through soundly managed and diversified seed and plant banks at the national, regional and international levels, and promote access to and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge, as internationally agreed
  • Increase investment, including through enhanced international cooperation, in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension services, technology development and plant and livestock gene banks in order to enhance agricultural productive capacity in developing countries, in particular least developed countries
  • Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets, including through the parallel elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies and all export measures with equivalent effect, in accordance with the mandate of the Doha Development Round

Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information, including on food reserves, in order to help limit extreme food price volatility

Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being

Good Health and Well-being - Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages[23]

  • Significant strides have been made in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common killers associated with child and maternal mortality, and major 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, while the need met is growing slowly - more than 225 million women have an unmet need for contraception.
  • An important target is to substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from pollution-related diseases.
  • 3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births[24]
  • 3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births[24]
  • 3.3 By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases[24]
  • 3.4 By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being[24]
  • 3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol[24]
  • 3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents[24]
  • 3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes[24]
  • 3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all[24]
  • 3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination[24]

Goal 4: Quality Education

Quality Education - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all[25]

  • Major progress has been made for education access, 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 per cent of them are women
  • Target 1 "By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes" - shows the commitment to nondiscriminatory education outcomes

Goal 5: Gender Equality

Gender Equality - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls[26]

  • 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
  • While a record 143 countries guaranteed equality between men and women in their Constitutions by 2014, another 52 had not taken this step. In many nations, gender discrimination is still woven through legal and social norms
  • Though goal 5 is the gender equality stand-alone goal, the SDG's can only be successful if women are completely integrated into each and every goal
  • Eliminating violence such as trafficking and sexual exploitation and abolishing harmful traditional practices against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.
  • Adopting and strengthening sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels.[27]
  • putting a stop to all forms of discrimination against all women and girls globally.
  • Compulsory completion of secondary education for the girl child
  • Implementation and accessibility of the Sexual and Reproductive health Rights to women and girls globally
  • Aiding women and girls empowerment through technology[28]
  • Listen to girls: SDGs can deliver transformative change for girls only if they have been consulted and their priorities and needs have been taken into account. Girls should be viewed as agents of change and not as beneficiaries - therefore their engagement in the implementation of the SDGs is crucial. For this we need to recognise the leadership potential of girls. We have witnessed firsthand the massive contributions that girls and young women as volunteers delivered for MDGs [29]

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation

Clean Water and Sanitation - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all[30]

The first three out of eight targets include:[30]

  • "By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all."
  • "By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations."
  • "By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally."

WASH experts have stated that without progress on Goal 6, the other goals and targets cannot be achieved.[31][32] Safe drinking water and hygienic toilets protect people from disease and enable societies to be productive. Attending school and work without disruption is a precursor to education and employment, both of which are the foundation of alleviating poverty. A study from 2016 showed how sanitation, when done with a resource recovery and reuse focus can contribute towards achieving at least fourteen of the SDGs, especially in an urban context.[33] Recovering the resources embedded in excreta and wastewater like nutrients, water and energy contributes towards achieving Goal 12 (sustainable consumption and production) and Goal 2 (zero hunger) while ensuring adequate sanitation and wastewater management along the entire value chain in cities contributes to Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities), Goal 1 (no poverty) and Goal 8 (decent work and economic growth).

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Affordable and Clean Energy - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all[34]

Goal 7 targets :

  • By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services
  • By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency
  • By 2030, enhance international cooperation to facilitate access to clean energy research and technology, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and advanced and cleaner fossil-fuel technology, and promote investment in energy infrastructure and clean energy technology
  • By 2030, expand infrastructure and upgrade technology for supplying modern and sustainable energy services for all in developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States, and land-locked developing countries, in accordance with their respective programmes of support

Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Decent Work and Economic Growth - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all[35]

World Pensions Council (WPC) development economists have argued that the twin considerations of long-term economic growth and infrastructure investment weren't prioritized enough: "More worryingly, 'Work and Economic Growth' and 'Technological Innovation and Infrastructure Investment' joined the [SDGs] priority list at number 8 and number 9 respectively, a rather mediocre ranking which defies economic common sense"[36]

Goal 8 targets :

  • Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries
  • Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors
  • Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services
  • Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead
  • By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training
  • Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms
  • Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
  • By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products
  • Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all
  • Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries
  • By 2020, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation[37]

Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

Reduced Inequalities - Reduce income inequality within and among countries[38]

Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Sustainable Cities and Communities - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable[39]

Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

Responsible Consumption and Production - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns[40]

Goal 13: Climate Action

Climate Action - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy[41]

Nations and other parties negotiating at the UN have highlighted the links between the post-2015 SDG process, the Financing for Development process to be concluded in Addis Ababa in July 2015, and the COP 21 Climate Change conference in Paris in December 2015.[42]

In May 2015, a report concluded that only a very ambitious climate deal in Paris in 2015 will enable countries to reach the sustainable development goals and targets.[43] The report also states that tackling climate change will only be possible if the SDGs are met. Further, 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.[44]

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).[36]

Goal 14: Life Below Water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Sustainable Development Goal number 14; Life Beyond Water is to conserve and sustainably use the worlds oceans, seas and marine resources.[45]

The oceans cover 71% of the earth surface. The worlds ocean is essential for all life on earth making earth livable such as rainwater, drinking water and climate are all regulated by the oceans. The ocean temperature, life and currents are all affected by humankind as over 3 billion people depend on marine life as their livelihood and oceans absorb 30% of all carbon dioxide produced by humans,.[46]

The oceans contains more than 200 000 identified species, but there might be thousands of species that are yet to be discovered. The ocean serves as the worlds largest source of protein. However the world population is not taking care of this important source of life as there has been an 26% increase in acidification since the industrial revolution, 30% of marine habits have been destroyed and 30% of the worlds fish stocks are overexploited.[46] Marine pollution has reached horrifying levels as each minute 15 tons of plastic ends up in the ocean.[47] The sad part is that some things are irreversible, 20% of the worlds coral reefs are destroyed another 24% are at a immediate risk of collapse,.[45] Approximately 1 million sea birds, 100 000 marine mammals and an unknown number of fish and other animals is harmed or dies unnecessary annually due to human pollution and reports from WWF shows that 95% of fulmars in Norway have plastic parts in their guts .[47]

There is a need for international cooperation to protect the oceans. Individually we can choose ocean friendly food, reduce energy use and reduces plastic usage. In Norway for instance you get paid for picking up plastic on the beach side by a web page called,.[48] Several countries have forbidden plastic bags to save the environment,Kenya is the latest country on this list. [49]

Beyond this facts, the worlds oceans contributes to poverty reduction as it gives poor people a source of income and healthy food. Further more in poor tropical parts of the world clean beaches and clean waters around the beach might attract tourist which again will lead to increased income which can reduce poverty,.[45]

Short sum up of some of the targets:

  • By 2025 Prevent and reduce marine pollution of all kinds.
  • By 2020 Sustainable manage and protect marine and costal ecosystem.
  • Minimize acidification of the oceans.
  • By 2020 Regulate overfishing.
  • Increase scientific knowledge on the area.[50][51][52][53][54]

Life Below Water - Conserve and sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.[55]

The United Nations Ocean Conference of 2017 sought to find ways and call for the implemention of Sustainable Development Goal 14.[56]

Goal 15: Life on Land

Life on Land - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss[57]

Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels[58]

Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

Partnerships for the Goals - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development[59]

Targets and indicators

As of August 2015, there were 169 proposed targets for these goals and 304 proposed indicators to show compliance.[60]

The process (for arriving at the Post-2015 development agenda)

Since Rio+20 - the Earth Summit of 2012 - did not elaborate specific goals, a 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) was established on 22 January 2013 by the decision of the UN General Assembly. The OWG was tasked with preparing a proposal on the SDGs for consideration during the 68th session of the General Assembly, September 2013 - September 2014.[61]

The OWG used a constituency-based system of representation: most of the seats in the working group are shared by several countries. After 13 sessions, the OWG submitted their proposal of 17 SDGs and 169 targets to the 68th session of the UN General Assembly in September, 2014.[62]

The Rio+20 outcome document mentioned, "at the outset, the OWG 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".[63]


A report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) of 2013 criticized the SDGs for not being ambitious enough. IFPRI cited evidence from the report "An Ambitious Development Goal: Ending Hunger and Undernutrition by 2025" to suggest the emphasis should not be on an end to 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.[64]

The SDGs have been criticized for being contradictory, because in seeking high levels of global GDP growth, they will undermine their own ecological objectives. It has also been noted that, in relation to the headline goal of eliminating extreme poverty, "a growing number of scholars are pointing out that $1.25 is actually not adequate for human subsistence", and the poverty line should be revised to as high as $5.[65]

A commentary in The Economist in 2015 argued that 169 targets for the SDGs is too many. The article used descriptors like "sprawling", "misconceived", and "a mess" compared to the Millennium Development Goals. Another criticsm is that the goals ignore local context and promote "cookie-cutter development policies". That all other sustainable development goals are contingent on achieving SDG 1, ending poverty. The Economist estimated that alleviating poverty and achieving the other sustainable development goals will require about $2-$3 trillion USD per annum for the next 15 years. Critics do not see this as being feasible. The reduction in the number of people living in abject poverty can be attributed to the growth of China, while the MDGs have been mistakenly credited for this drop.[66] The SDGs have also been criticized due to the inherent shortcomings in the very concept of sustainable development and the inability of the latter to either stabilize rising carbon dioxide concentration or ensure environmental harmony.[67]

Other views are more positive. The SDGs were the first outcome from a UN conference that was not criticized by any major Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), but broad support from many NGOs. This is in stark contrast to the MDGs which were heavily criticized by NGOs: The MDGs dealt with the problems, 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 problem, while the SDGs take into account the inter-linkages.[]

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.


Implementation of the SDGs has started worldwide. It is no easy task however, fortunately many people, universities, governments, organisations but also citizens[68] work on several topics at the same time everywhere. In each country, governments must translate the goals into national legislation, develop a plan of action, allocate a budget, be open and search for partners. Poor countries need the support of rich countries, and coordination at the international level is crucial.[69]

The Agenda is very ambitious; here are some of the obstacles and how they are being addressed:

  • Communicating the Goals. A team of communication specialists did a wonderful job in transforming the pages the diplomats drafted at UN level in which the Sustainable Development Goals and the whole endeavour are described - quite boring - into a way these goals could be marketed. Following a process, lead by Jakob Trollbäck,[70][71] icons were developed for every goal, the title was shortened to its essence from "The 17 Sustainable Development Goals" to "Global Goals", dedicated workshops and conferences developed on the topic of communicating the #GlobalGoals[72] - s.a. the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development at the UNO headquarters in Bonn in march 2017; the endeavour was opened up so everybody could participate,[68] etc.
  • Goal 1 to eradicate poverty is hampered by growing inequality, increasingly fragile statehood and the impacts of climate change.[73]
  • For dealing with the complexity and often interlinking of the goals with each other, several techniques and methodologies are used, e.g. at the Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development at the UNO headquarters in Bonn in march 2017, the 2030 Hive Mind game[74] was used: "The SDGs are highly interdependent - objectives overlap; policies compete and complement; countries have to set priorities, sequence their efforts and manage trade-offs. The game simulates some of these complexities to spark inventive solutions and build alliances. This was not a modelling exercise, although the game was built on empirical evidence. Nor was it prescriptive. The game was designed to help people, regardless of their backgrounds, engage in a complex decision-making process."[74]

Cross-cutting issues

Women and gender equality

Despite a stand-alone goal on gender equality, there is widespread consensus that progress on any and all of the SDGs will be stalled if women's empowerment and gender equality is not prioritized. Arguments and evidence from sources as diverse and as economically-oriented as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to expected sources such as UN Women, bolster the case that investments in women and girls impact national and global development in ways that exceed their initial scope.[75]

Role of women board members

European scholars have insisted that the economic empowerment of women should be construed as an issue of global significance in both Northern Hemisphere nations and the Global South: "the empowerment of [...] women board members" being viewed as a central, cross-cutting issue allowing female experts and thought leaders to exercise direct oversight over corporations, governments and institutional asset owners in both developed and developing nations [76]

SDG-driven investment

Capital stewardship is expected to play a crucial part in the progressive advancement of the SDG agenda across all asset classes:

"No longer 'absentee landlords', [ pension fund ] trustees have started to exercise more forcefully their governance prerogatives across the boardroom of Britain, Benelux and America: coming together through the establishment of engaged pressure groups [...] to 'shift the [whole economic] system towards sustainable investment'."[77]

The boards of directors of large Dutch and Scandinavian public and sectorial pension funds[76] were early adopters of this SDG-driven approach: in March 2017, Holland's Pensionfund Metalektro (PME), the main retirement scheme for the metal and electrical engineering sector, announced it would bring rapidly 10% of its EUR45 ($49) billion investment portfolio in line with the UN SDGs [78]

North-South economic cooperation

At the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Norwegian pension funds to invest in his country's National Infrastructure Investment platform as he met Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg, who, in a gesture symbolising renewed cooperation towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, offered him a round leather football embroidered with the initials 'SDGs'[79]


Education for sustainable development (ESD)

See main article: Education for sustainable development

Education for sustainable development (ESD) is explicitly recognized in the SDGs as part of Target 4.7 of the SDG on education, together with Global Citizenship Education (GCED), which UNESCO promotes as a complementary approach.[80] At the same time, it is important to emphasize ESD's crucial 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, enabling individuals to contribute to sustainable development by promoting societal, economic and political change as well as by transforming their own behaviour.[81]

Massive open online course (MOOC)

MOOCs can be seen as a form of open education offered for free through online platforms. The (initial) philosophy of MOOCs is to open up quality Higher Education to a wider audience. As such, MOOCs are an important tool to achieve Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ("Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all").[82] They could also make an important contribution to SDG 5: "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls".[82]

Le Temps Presse: an international short film festival about the SDGs

Le Temps Presse festival is at the crossroads between cinema and a commitment on responsible thematics:

  • To make young talented directors known, young directors that get involved in a responsible cinema
  • To raise awareness among people about the SDGs 

It occurs every year in Paris.

The origine is the film "8", a feature film composed with 8 short films about the MDGs and directed by 8 international well-known directors: Jane Campion, Mira Nair, Gael Garcia Bernal, Jan Kounen, Gaspar Noé, Abderrahmane Sissako, Gus Van Sant et Wim Wenders.

After the films was launched on Youtube in 2010, the festival has been created ; the 8 directors handed the baton over to the public and asked them: " And you, how do you see the world today? ".

See also


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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